|2 Feb 2024
The policy committee cutoff that occurred on January 31 resulted in some bills dying and some waiting to make it past the fiscal cutoff that will occur on February 5. Unfortunately, HB 2307, a bill that would have provided some relief from vexatious litigation related to the Public Records Act (PRA), did not advance and is dead. This outcome is disappointing but not surprising, as changes to the PRA are always contentious. We did not get the bill, but we did get more legislators to recognize that something should be done to make records fully available and cut down on costly litigation.
Next, SB 5059, which would apply prejudgment interest to tort cases, still awaits action in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means. If it does not clear this committee by February 5, it will be dead. WSAC opposes this bill because it would significantly impact our risk pools and make it more expensive to get insurance. It may also result in fewer policies being offered as insurers decide the market is too volatile. Similarly, HB 1445 is a bill that puts counties at risk of further litigation by authorizing the Attorney General to investigate and sue local agencies over alleged law enforcement legal violations. We would rather work on solutions that are remedial, in partnership with the Attorney General, instead of the adversarial approach this legislation takes. This bill was recently made ready for full House Floor action, and it has until February 13 to be brought up for a vote.
Finally, there are several proposed changes to election law active this year. HB 1932 would move elections to even-numbered years only, but WSAC testified and worked with other stakeholders to get an amendment that makes this permissive only, not a mandate. This bill has cleared committee and awaits further action from the full House. SB 6156 and HB 2250 are companion bills that would implement a system for ranked-choice voting. These bills merely provide a uniform system and methodology for jurisdictions that choose to use ranked-choice voting for some races; it is not a new mandate, and costs would be apportioned to the jurisdictions that choose to use this new system. We agree that having a uniform system for those jurisdictions that choose to use this system makes sense, and we will work to ensure that these measures remain optional and do not result in additional costs to the counties. The House version of the ranked-choice voting bill has made it out of the policy committee and awaits further action from the full House.