Legislative Report—May 15, 2014

As the House feverously worked on bills this week, the Senate debated and passed the budget. It now comes back to the House to decide which Senate amendments are concurred on and which are rejected. The budget will then go to a conference committee of three House and three Senate members to work out the differences. The House and Senate will have to return (probably in third week of June) to address the vetoes. In the next three weeks committees will not meet again and members will be in session long hours to debate and vote up or down on the remaining bills.

The two texting bills that we have been discussing all this session passed the House and wait for the Senate. A Conference Committee composed of both sides will meet to hammer out something we both can live with.

Some major bills were discussed in House Ways & Means (W&M) full committee which I attended. I pulled out a few to share with you that may be of interest.

Senate Bill 503 is the “Beach Preservation Act.” It allows a municipality with a public beach that imposes a local accommodations tax of no more than 1.5% to impose an additional 1% upon approval by referendum and use the proceeds for beach re-nourishment.

House Bill 4520 is the “Uncle Preston’s Law.” It allows the special 4% assessment for property that is used to house a family member who is over the age of 65 and who does not pay rent.

Senate Bill 437 “Property Tax” addresses the use of 4% opposed to 6% assessment on property. This bill would allow the home to qualify for the 4% assessment ratio if it is not rented for more than one hundred days in a calendar year.

Senate Bill 964 “Property Tax Millage” relates to the limit on annual property tax millage increases imposed by political subdivisions, to add an exemption for millage imposed by the governing body for operating revenue necessary to retain a fire department’s ISO rating. It provides that a fire district’s governing body may increase the millage rate for general operating purposes above the annual millage rate through the adoption of an ordinance or resolution by County Council and subject to a referendum.

Senate Bill 294 “Local Accommodations Tax Revenue” allows these revenues to be used for beach re-nourishment upon a two-thirds vote by the membership of the local governing body.

Senate Bill 1085 “Transportation Infrastructure” relates to the use of local sales-and-use tax or toll revenues to finance transportation infrastructure in a county. The bill would allow a county that currently has the local sales tax in place to extend it for another 7 years if approved by referendum.

All these bills were passed out of full W&M Committee and read across the desk on the House floor on Thursday. They will be debated next week.

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