The Legislature is off to a big start, with a huge number of bills being introduced and heard in the first couple of weeks. The .09% rural sales tax credit extension, a major WSAC priority, was introduced as HB 1267 and will be heard in the House Committee on Local Government on January 24. We are hoping to get a Senate companion bill introduced soon.
SB 5059 is a prejudgment interest tort liability bill like the one from last year. This bill would allow interest on judgments for tortious conduct to begin to accrue from the date on which a person suffers an injury or loss. This means the interest would begin accruing before a claim was filed and, in some cases, even before a county was made aware of the injury or loss. Current law provides that interest begins to accrue on the date a judgment is entered by a court. The date when the interest starts is significant in an era where litigation and settlement negotiations can drag on for years. Much delay can result from plaintiff choices or court schedules, neither of which is in county control. Last year, we were able to get an amendment exempting local governments.
We will try again to get such an amendment, but for now, in its present form, we oppose the bill. The bill will be heard in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice on January 24.
These bills are a substantial improvement over versions from last year: there is no preclearance in these versions. We will continue to work on some other matters relating to fee recovery and ensuring counties can take corrective (remedial) measures or implement good ideas without fear of being sued for a violation.
WSAC, Policy Consultant