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News > Advocacy > Public Safety and Human Services Bills

Public Safety and Human Services Bills

With just a couple of weeks of the legislative session under our belts, there are a few bills to highlight regarding public safety and human services.
19 Jan 2024



There have been numerous bills this session focused on issues related to public defense. Most of them impact only a very small portion of the greater public defense issue, such as internships for rural public defenders (SB 5781) and additional training for public defenders (SB 5780). While they are helpful to counties, they do very little to defray the cost of trial court public defense. The bills offered that propose to provide real money for the system (SB 5773 and HB 2202) have yet to be scheduled for a hearing, and with the looming lawsuit against the state on this very issue, will not likely be scheduled while that suit is pending.

There is an excellent bill related to expanding the Veterans Services Officer (VSO) program (HB 1925), which builds upon bills we’ve worked on over the last few years and which we fully support. The bill modifies “eligible counties” to those counties with a resident veteran population of 50,000 or less from counties with a population of 100,000 or less. Furthermore, it prioritizes eligible counties where the percentage of veteran population receiving federal disability is below the national average and to eligible counties without a VSO.

The cities are pushing HB 2211/ SB 6076, which does several things. It allows a county legislative authority to impose a criminal justice sales and use tax without voter approval between the time the bill goes into effect and July 1, 2024. The bill has an emergency clause, which means the bill will be effective once the Governor signs it. This authority is granted solely to counties for a three-month grace period. After this three-month grace period, cities are given this same authority. The amount taken by a county and a city within a county cannot exceed the allowable .3%. The total amount of funding allocated to criminal justice purposes must be more than was previously allocated for those purposes before the imposition of this tax (which could simply be $1 more). Keep your eye on the emergency clause. If this goes away, so does the county's three-month grace period. This new authority expires for both cities and counties on January 1, 2027.

Finally, there are also a handful of bills that would require counties to conduct resentencing hearings without providing funding for counties, such as SB 6063. Our objection to these bills is purely because the state is asking counties to provide a new, not previously required service without providing funding for this new service.

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