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News & Press: Legislative

January 2016 Legislative Update

Friday, January 22, 2016   (0 Comments)
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The start of the New Year saw a frenzy of activity in the Legislature. The legislative leaders announced that they intend to wrap up the two year session by the end of February – more than a month earlier than originally planned. The announcement triggered a rush to get bills introduced and through committee to give them a chance to pass before the session ends. It has also been a busy time for WEDA as a number of new economic development initiatives have been launched and other important bills have had hearings. A brief summary of recent issues and activities includes: 

Regional Revolving Loan Fund (SB 515) – This bill would create a Regional Revolving Loan Fund program within WEDC utilizing $10 million in economic development funds that were set aside during deliberations on the State Budget. Under the program each of the nine established regional economic development organizations would receive a $1 million grant for the purposes of making loans to businesses that plan to expand within each region. WEDA testified in support of the bill, which had a public hearing on January 11, 2016. We also suggested a friendly amendment to give WEDC more flexibility in making grants under the program. 

WEDC Fraud (AB 669) – This bill would create a specific crime for intentionally defrauding WEDC while applying for WEDC economic development assistance. Violators would be subject to felony penalties and be barred from receiving any economic development benefits for seven years. WEDA testified at the hearing on January 13, 2016, raising concerns over potential unintended consequences for innocent economic development professionals who may inadvertently pass along fraudulent information. 

Refundable Tax Credit (AB 102) - This bill would make early stage seed and angel investment tax credits refundable. To the extent that an eligible company has tax credits that exceed their tax liability in a given year they would receive a refund of the excess amount. WEDA registered its support for the bill at the public hearing on January 13, 2016. 

TIF Reform (AB 134, AB 137, and AB 138) - These bills are part of the TIF reform package that was developed by the Legislative Council’s TIF Study Committee. These three bills will have a public hearing on January 21, 2016, in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. They include: relief for TIDs that have been impacted by changes in DOR policy or legislation (AB134); an extension of the deadline for declaring a TID distressed (AB 137); and modification to the process of redetermining a TID’s base value (AB 138). Most of the TIF reform package has passed the Senate, and with this public hearing most of the bills will be ready for a floor vote in the Assembly in the coming weeks.   

WEDC Reform – The WEDC engaged the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness to do a thorough review of the organization in response to recent criticisms. Their report makes a number of recommendations to improve effectiveness and transparency. WEDA is providing feedback to WEDC to assist in implementing the report’s recommendations.  

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