Our .09% rural sales tax credit extension bills, a major WSAC priority, continue to move forward. HB 1267 is awaiting Floor action in the House Rules Committee, and, the companion bill SB 5613 is in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means waiting for a hearing before the fiscal cutoff next Friday (2/24).
SB 5059 is a prejudgment interest tort liability bill that 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 interest would start to accrue 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. HB 1025 is a police misconduct bill that would allow counties, as employers, to be sued for police misconduct. Our main objection to this bill is our inability to take preventative measures or otherwise remedy bad behavior because counties generally do not directly oversee law enforcement. Thus, we get the tort liability with little ability to fix problems.
The impact on our risk pools from both bills is expected to be substantial, and we likewise fear that we will be unable to get insurance on the secondary market because premiums will be too high or policies will no longer be offered. Both bills are awaiting hearings before next Friday’s fiscal cutoff, and we will continue to work them.
There are numerous bills each Session that we monitor and ask for technical changes on so that their provisions are workable, irrespective of the policy. This year, that includes some miscellaneous election and employment bills. Changes to the Voting Rights Act are proposed in HB 1048 and SB 5047. We have supported access to voting and the general policy aims of these bills, but have operational concerns. While we would still like some changes, the sponsors and stakeholders have addressed our biggest concerns from last year, and the bills are much better for us to implement. Both of these bills are in their respective Rules Committees awaiting full Floor action
We also worked on a union reporting bill, HB 1200, which would have employees report new hires and all-employee contact information routinely to unions (where applicable) so that unions would have the most up-to-date information on their membership. We support unions’ ability to be in contact with their membership, but we asked for and got more workable reporting timelines on this bill. We also got changes to bills dealing with when and how we provide copies of employee files (HB 1320 and SB 5061) so that these bills’ new provisions would work with other requirements we already face (such as the Public Records Act). Versions of each of these bills are expected to continue progressing beyond cutoff, although the employee files bills face strong opposition from private business employees (they do not keep the same records as government employers), and so it is unclear in what form they will pass (if any). We will continue to work on these to make sure they function as smoothly as possible for counties.
WSAC, Policy Consultant