While many of us are just beginning to implement changes from the 2015 Session, legislators are already preparing for 2016. Interim committees are being formed, agendas are being pulled together and discussions surrounding potential legislation are already well underway.
Keep in mind, the bills passed during the 2015 session go in to effect next week (May 12, 2015), Interim committee meetings will start the following week. We are ramping up for the first round, which will be on May 20. This week both the House and the Senate finalized committee memberships and we should start seeing a trickle of agendas coming in the next few days. As they become public, we will keep you in the loop.
So, what do we anticipate in the next several months? Well, in short, A LOT. We will have a very busy agenda for counties this year on Capitol Hill. We are already working away on a few of those items, and anticipate many more to come.
Here is a quick run-down of several of the items we are working on, or anticipate in the next few months.
- Justice Reinvestment Initiative: UAC staff is working with the implementation team, meeting with county officials regularly and will be continuing to work on this topic throughout the year. Additionally, as with any reform, we anticipate tweaks to the program will be introduced as legislation for 2016.
- Funding for behavioral health: UAC has been meeting regularly with the Behavioral Health Committee and recognizes that an early start to our appropriations requests will be necessary for 2016. This group will soon begin to narrow in our preferred bill list and will also be working on the legislative request for more information on the long-term plan for funding behavioral health programs.
- Assessor and Treasurer requests: UAC will be meeting with the assessors and treasurer groups within the next few weeks to discuss their legislative agendas for 2016. After the management conference, it was determined that we will begin regular meetings with the affiliates to gain a better handle on what the requests will be early in the legislative process, allowing us to begin work on these during the Summer versus when the session starts in January.
- Rev/Tax Items: UAC staff continues to meet on a regular basis with Rep. Dan McCay regarding his centrally assessed “new growth” legislation. At Rep. McCay’s request, we will be pulling together a small working group for this item that will likely start in late May. This will be a big topic, and one that we spend a lot of time working on this summer.
- Centrally Assessed Appeals: Despite the fact that the appeals bill doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 2016, we are going to be increasing our scrutiny and assessment of centrally assessed appeals this year. Appeals must be filed with the Tax Commission by the end of May, so we are tirelessly working on revue of the valuations and will be reaching out to counties soon to determine, where/if we need to file appeals this year.
- Transportation Funding: As we mentioned at the UAC Management Conference, many counties are contemplating an election to adopt the changes in HB362 Transportation Funding Amendments Bill. We are working closely with all of the major stakeholders on what that election would look like and how it will roll out. As you continue to evaluate your decision on this important topic, please circle back with UAC staff to keep us in the loop as to whether or not you intend to put this item on the ballot in 2015 or 2016.
That is just a quick snippet of what we have been working on over the last few weeks. If you have questions or want to get brought up to speed, please let us know and we will be happy to provide more detail.
Until next time, enjoy the weekend, and make sure you honor your mothers. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!