Gov. Doyle: Governor Doyle Signs Legislation to Preserve Affordable Housing for Elderly, Poor, and Disabled
Jessica Erickson, Governor's Office, 608-261-2156
Recent Supreme Court Decision Had Struck Property Tax Exemption that Enabled
Nonprofit Housing Providers to Offer Lower Rents to Low-Income, At-Risk Residents
MONONA - At a bill signing ceremony at Monona Hills Apartments today, Governor Jim Doyle signed into law legislation that ensures that nonprofit organizations can continue to provide affordable housing for low-income, elderly, and handicapped individuals. Senate Bill 512 reverses a recent Supreme Court decision that allows local governments to collect property taxes from nonprofits that rent to low-income tenants.
"If left unaddressed, this ruling would have made it almost impossible to convince nonprofits to maintain - much less build - critically needed housing," Governor Doyle said. "The decision also threatened to raise the cost of affordable housing, forcing some providers to leave the market. I am pleased to sign legislation today to ensure that nonprofits can continue to provide affordable housing for our neediest residents."
Last November, in a case involving Columbus Park Housing Corporation and the City of Kenosha, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that nonprofit organizations renting to low-income individuals were not exempt from real property taxes.
For many years, this property tax exemption had been vital to ensuring affordable housing, allowing nonprofit housing owners to offer lower rents, better maintenance, and special services for at-risk residents, the Governor said. Many of these residents are often elderly, handicapped, mentally or physically challenged, victims of violence, or otherwise have special needs. Others are working families, many with young children.
SB 512, which is retroactive to January 1, 2002, prevents taxing units from collecting property taxes, restoring the law prior to the court's ruling. The bill also recognizes the real fiscal concerns of municipalities, counties, school districts, and other property taxing authorities. It instructs the Legislative Council staff to study the effect of the case on property tax exemptions for property that is leased, and to report to the Legislature on it findings by December 15.
Governor Doyle thanked WHEDA Executive Director Antonio Riley and his staff, and the bill's many authors, including Senators Carol Roessler, Cathy Stepp, Julie Lassa, and Spencer Coggs, and Representatives Spencer Black and Tom Hebl.
The Governor also signed legislation that will allow prosecutors to pursue unsolved cases of second-degree intentional homicide years later as new evidence develops.
Senate Bill 66 was prompted by a Beloit case, in which police obtained a confession from a man suspected of choking his wife to death 12 years after the murder. But the man could not be prosecuted, because the statute of limitations on 2nd degree reckless homicide is only six years.
The bill removes the time limit for prosecution of 2nd degree intentional homicide and increases the time limit for prosecution of 2nd degree reckless homicide - allowing prosecutors to pursue unsolved cases. The Governor thanked the bill's lead authors - Senators Neal Kedzie and Judy Robson and Representatives Dan Schooff and Suzanne Jeskewitz.
The Governor also signed 11 other bills:
* Assembly Bill 169, authored by Representative Sheryl Albers and Senator Joe Leibham, allows a parent or guardian of a child under 16 to request the child's library records from a public library.
* * Assembly Bill 263, authored by Representative Jeff Stone and Senator Ron Brown, provides counties, cities, and villages with the same authority towns currently have to fulfill bonding requirements through blanket bonds.
* * Assembly Bill 273 increases judicial efficiency by allowing municipal courts to hear refusal hearings and issue revocation orders for operating while intoxicated proceedings. The bill's authors are Representatives Dan Vrakas and Greg Huber and Senators Scott Fitzgerald and Bob Wirch.
* * Assembly Bill 419 allows the Department of Transportation to suspend or refuse to renew vehicle registration until an individual pays outstanding towing or storage charges incurred as a result of a parking ticket. The bill's authors are Representatives Bonnie Ladwig and Shirley Krug and Senator Alberta Darling.
* * Assembly Bill 467, authored by Representatives Bonnie Ladwig and John Ainsworth, provides funding to support the requirements of DOT as outlined in AB 419.
* * Assembly Bill 471 improves the process of reimbursement to cities, towns, and villages when their fire departments respond to highway accidents. The bill's authors are Representative Dan LeMahieu and Senators Tom Reynolds, Spencer Coggs, and Roger Breske.
* Assembly Bill 488, authored by Representative Steve Foti and Senator Alberta Darling, gives full disclosure to the Wisconsin Center District by requiring the Department of Revenue to report the amount of taxes for each taxpayer.
* * Assembly Bill 591, authored by Representative Frank Lasee and Senators Robert Cowles and Bob Wirch, clarifies procedures for filing and recording documents with county register of deeds offices.
* * Senate Bill 105, authored by Senator Joe Leibham and Representative Scott Suder, allows the Department of Transportation to suspend driving privileges for convictions of making bomb threats, and carrying or discharging firearms in a school zone.
* * Senate Bill 340 helps the Department of Workforce Development address the current workforce environment, promote efficiency in the administration of unemployment insurance (UI), reduce the burden on small businesses, and clarify current UI laws.
* * Senate Bill 435 allows individuals to be exempt, based on religious reasons, from the requirement that they must first apply to other health care coverage programs before seeking treatment of hemophilia from the Chronic Disease Program. The bill's authors are Senators Mark Meyer and Dale Schultz and Representatives DuWayne Johnsrud and Barbara Gronemus.