Week 8 of the legislative session concludes
Senate passes state budget plan
The Senate has passed its version of the state budget, HB1. The bill was passed out of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue committee this week with adjustments to the House version of the budget. Chairman Chris McDaniel summarized the highlights, which included similar language to the House version such as increased funding for jails, prosecutors, PVAs and more.
The budget will now go back to the House for their consideration of the Senate changes.
For an analysis of the budget and how it affects counties, click here. Stay tuned to KACo social media channels and our website for updates on the budget process as it continues.
Library board bill passes in Senate
Thanks to those who responded to our action alert, we are happy to report Senate passage of SB 167, sponsored by Sen. Philip Wheeler, which addresses issues regarding library district board appointments. Current law requires judge/executives, with fiscal court approval, to choose appointees from a list sent by the State Department for Libraries and Archives (DLA) with no input from the fiscal court.
The bill will provide county judge/executives with the option to either continue to choose an appointee from the DLA list, or to appoint members with the approval of the fiscal court when filling vacancies or creating a new district. SB 167 would require approval of both the library board and the fiscal court for expenditures for leasing or capital construction projects with a total cost of $1 million or more, providing more oversight of tax dollars by elected officials.
Jail fee modernization bill heard in committee
HB 590, sponsored by Rep. Michael Meredith, addresses funding discrepancies in relation to county jails. The legislation would amend state statute to require a prisoner in a county jail to begin paying fees from the prisoner's booking date and require a jail to reimburse and waive fees if a prisoner is not convicted of any charges.
Additionally, HB 590 would require the Department of Corrections to annually adjust the maximum room and board fee of $50 per day based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. Currently, the maximum fee is unable to be adjusted each year based on the economic climate.
After passing favorably in the House Local Government committee, HB 590 has been recommitted to the House Appropriations & Revenue committee and awaits a hearing.
County clerk modernization bill passes Senate
SB 135, sponsored by Sen. Jason Howell, seeks to accelerate the online availability of recorded instruments such as titles, deeds and mortgages. The legislation would amend state statute to designate 90 percent of funds held for the local records grant program be set aside and distributed as grants for county clerks, and that the $10 storage fee collected by county clerks shall be held for the exclusive purpose of providing funding for the permanent storage of recorded instruments.
The bill would appropriate $25 million from the state general fund to the Department of Local Government to provide grants to county clerks to establish and maintain portals for the electronic filing and searching of recorded instruments. It would also create an addition to state statute to allow for county clerks in counties with a population of less than 70,000 to receive an advancement to defray necessary official expenses.
SB 135 passed the Senate 34-0-3 and after passage in a House committee, it awaits a vote by the full House next week.