Bill helping Gifford stuck in committee

SPRINGFIELD — A bill designed to aid rebuilding efforts in Gifford and other communities hit by natural disasters remained stuck in a subcommittee of the House Revenue and Finance Committee today.

The legislation, SB 3259, cleared the Senate 53-0 in early April but remains stalled in the House. It was scheduled to be heard in committee Wednesday morning but was not called for a vote.

"I'm still very confident of moving the bill," said Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, who is sponsoring the bill in the House and whose district includes Gifford, which was struck by a tornado last November. "I've got 42 co-sponsors on the bill in the House; 21 of those are Democrats. I really can't offer a commentary why the bill wasn't called today but we have been told by the Speaker's office that they do intend to let us move the bill."

The deadline for committee action in the House is Friday, but Hays said that may not matter.

"All kinds of interesting scenarios happen in Springfield late in the spring session. I hate to prejudge what could happen with this bill but what has happened before with bills of this nature that are so very important on the home front, sometimes they end up on bills that the sponsor is less likely to vote for. So we'll see how that plays out."

Still, Hays said he was "very optimistic that this bill will pass and the governor will sign it."

The legislation would limit increases in assessed valuations on commercial property for businesses that need to rebuild after natural disasters like tornadoes.

It would moderate property tax bills for businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees to ensure that assessments would not increase more than 4 percent a year for a maximum of 15 years.

Hays said the delay in passing the bill was frustrating.

"This is really unnecessary," he said. "This is a bill that stands on its own merit. It's a commonsense bill."

The legislation is patterned after a bill that passed following the Harrisburg, Ill., tornadoes of 2012 that limited property tax increases on residential property.

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