Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Municipal Issues Moving Slowly

As we move through the third week of the 2008 legislative session, it appears that many things are going to be different. Not only have we moved back to the "big house", but it appears that municipal issues are receiving far more dileberation than they have in year's past -- AND THAT IS NOT A BAD THING.

Lets just look at some of the key priorities for the ULCT this year.

SB-72 Justice Court Reform:
This much anticipated bill, which has been covered extensively in the press and has had many local officials anxious over potential changes in governance has yet to have its first committee hearing. Now thats not to say that work has not been done on this issue, as we have been meeting on a daily basis with the interested parties and the bill sponsor to work out a solution to this problem, but it is certainly a departure from the norm to work in this fashion and avoid the committee process in an attempt to work things out prior to the big committee/floor fight. It is likely that this bill will go to committee late this week, but we are confident that many of the large concerns for municipalities will be worked out prior to that committee hearing -- Certainly a refreshing approach.

Privatization Issues:
As with Justice Courts, it has taken nearly three full weeks to get the kinks worked out of the privatization issues. Two bills SB45 and HB75 have been substantially revamped to address concerns that were raised by the ULCT and local governments. These bills just went to committee this week and were largely hammered out prior to the committee hearing process. Since these bills were subcommittee approved, it has been odd to have them delayed this long, but certainly a refreshing approach to address our concerns prior to committee to avoid the protracted battles that have occured in years past.

Taxation and Government Finance:
Again with both SB29 and SB38, which largely deal with property tax issues (SB29) and transparency in government finance (SB38), we have had significant opportunity to provide constructive feedback on both bills to avoid large committee fights. We successfully addressed the concerns we had with the original version of SB29, and are now unaffected by the current legislation (all of this was done prior to the committee hearing). In addition, we have provided significant feedback on SB38 and believe the sponsor is receptive to our concerns and proposed approach. While SB38 is now on the Senate floor for considereation, we have had a great opportunity to voice our concerns in the Senate and are hopeful that amendments will be offered to address our concerns with the legislation. -- Again a refreshing approach to the legislative process.

Hopefully the trend will continue and the writing of this entry will not "jinx" our efforts.

Thanks again for all of those that help with the municipal government effort. Lets hope the following weeks follow suit.

Until next time... Enjoy.