The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

Legislation

Another Legislative Victory


For those of you following the bills that would update Statute 177, the Unclaimed Property Statute, Tuesday was a very good day. AB 419 passed the full Assembly 94-0, making it the 2nd bill to pass the full Assembly. Below is a summary of where each piece of legislation stands.

AB 417 – Scheduled for Executive Session in Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics – March 1.

AB 418 – Passed by the Assembly Committee on Homeland Security and State Affairs and the full Assembly.

AB 419 – Passed by the Assembly Committee on Homeland Security and State Affairs and the full Assembly.

The 3 companion bills (SBs 294, 295, and 296) are awaiting an Executive Committee hearing in the Senate Committee on Judicary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations.

 Background:

2/17 – Update 6, Legislative Update

2/09 – Update 5, ABs 418 and 419 Earn Unanimous Approval

2/02 – Update 4, Testimony on AB 417

1/26 – Testimony on SBs 294, 295, and 296

1/24 – Update 3

1/18 – Testimony on AB 419

1/18 – Testimony on AB 418

1/17 -Update 2

12/01 – Update 1

What would these bills do?

AB 417/SB 294 establishes a uniform review process in the event that an unclaimed property claimant disagrees with the administrator’s decision regarding the status of a claim.

AB 418/SB 295 requires heirfinders to submit a copy of their agreement with the unclaimed property owner to the Unclaimed Property Program for purposes of legal verification.

AB 419/SB 296 allows the Unclaimed Property Administrator to assess a 12% interest penalty on unclaimed property holders who willfully neglect to turn over unclaimed property to my office. The statute used to require the administrator to assess an 18% interest penalty. The added discretion this statute gives to the Unclaimed Property Administrator will allow my office to increase compliance with holder reporting laws through education, without penalizing businesses who found themselves in violation through ignorance of the law.

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State Treasurer Calls on Legislature to Vote to Eliminate His Position


AJR 26 would also eliminate the Office of Secretary of State

I am calling on state legislators to vote on the Joint Resolution that would eliminate my office and the Office of Secretary of State. I helped draft the bill as soon as I took the oath of office in January of 2011. It has passed through committee and is waiting for debate on the Assembly Floor. 

This was my promise to Wisconsin Taxpayers. I told them I would attempt to eliminate my job and the Secretary of State to save money. It has been nearly a year since the bill was introduced and if it isn’t taken up soon, we could face the possibility of having another election for these offices in 2014.

Because the Joint Resolution requires a change to Wisconsin’s Constitution, both the Assembly and Senate must pass the amendment in two concurrent sessions with no changes. After that, it will go before the voters. The earliest that could happen is 2013. If a majority of voters approves the amendment, the State Treasurer and Secretary of State will end their terms on the first Monday in January 2015.

I have already promised to not run for re-election  if AJR 26 does not pass.


Legislative Update (Full Update Next Week)


AB 418 has passed the Assembly! AB 419 will be voted on in the Assembly next week. 

Background:

2/09 – Update 5, ABs 418 and 419 Earn Unanimous Approval

2/02 – Update 4, Testimony on AB 417

1/26 – Testimony on SBs 294, 295, and 296

1/24 – Update 3

1/18 – Testimony on AB 419

1/18 – Testimony on AB 418

1/17 -Update 2

12/01 – Update 1


ABs 418 and 419 Earn Unanimous Approval in Committee!


Yesterday, ABs 418 and 419 passed the Assembly Committee on Homeland Security and State Affairs with a unanimous vote. Both bills are now able to be placed on the Assembly calendar, and they may receive a vote in the next one to two weeks.

I’d like to thank the following legislators – the members of the committee – for their bi-partisan support:

Rep. Karl Van Roy (Chair – R – 90), Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (Vice Chair – R – 84), Rep. Joan Ballweg (R-41), Rep. Tyler August (R-32), Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-14), Rep. Chris Danou (D-91), Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-8), and Rep. Janet Bewley (D-74).

More updates will follow as the bills progress.

Background:

2/02 – Update 4, Testimony on AB 417

1/26 – Testimony on SBs 294, 295, and 296

1/24 – Update 3

1/18 – Testimony on AB 419

1/18 – Testimony on AB 418

1/17 -Update 2

12/01 – Update 1


Changes to Statute 177 continue to move forward


Changes to the Unclaimed Property Statute, which I first started to write about in early December, will hopefully get even closer to becoming a reality in the next week. Below is the testimony that my Deputy, Scott Feldt, delivered earlier today before the Assembly Judicary and Ethics Committee. Once that hearing is complete, all 6 bills – the three Assembly and 3 Senate versions will have received hearings. Additionally, ABs 418 and 419 will be voted on in an executive session of the Assembly Committee on Homeland Security and State Affairs next Wednesday, February 8. Stay tuned!

Testimony of Wisconsin State Treasurer Kurt Schuller to the Wisconsin State Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics Regarding AB 417

February 02, 2012 

Delivered on Behalf of the State Treasurer by Deputy State Treasurer Scott Feldt

                  From time to time, it is important to make small alterations to existing statutes in order to improve the efficiency of government as well as the services that government provides. I am grateful to Chairman Ott and this committee for giving me the opportunity to strongly advocate for the passage of AB 417 here today.

AB 417 establishes a judicial review process for an unclaimed property claimant whose claim is denied or not acted upon in a timely manner. This process will follow the same procedure long used for other state agencies in having their decisions reviewed by a court.  Court filing fees are lower than in a regular case, and review is handled expeditiously based on a paper record prepared at the agency’s expense.

Fortunately, the Treasurer’s Office has a spotless record of not being sued by claimants.  Should such a lawsuit arise, however, it is important to have in place procedures that are consistent with other areas of Wisconsin law, and that inexpensively and efficiently handle those claims.

I believe that the time has come to institute this reform.

Background:

1/26 – Testimony on SBs 294, 295, and 296

1/24 – Update 3

1/18 – Testimony on AB 419

1/18 – Testimony on AB 418

1/17 -Update 2

12/01 – Update 1


AB 426 passes


Last evening, AB 426, which I testified in favor of, passed the Assembly. Below is a link to how the representatives voted:

http://ow.ly/8IHLu


Testimonies on SB 294, 295, and 296 from Yesterday


Testimony of Wisconsin State Treasurer Kurt Schuller to the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations Regarding SB 294

January 25, 2012 

Delivered on Behalf of the State Treasurer by Deputy State Treasurer Scott Feldt

 

            From time to time it is important to make small alterations to existing statutes in order to improve the efficiency of government as well as the services that government provides. I am grateful to Chairman Zipperer and this committee for giving me the opportunity to strongly advocate the passage of SB 294 here today.

            SB 294 establishes an administrative review process for an unclaimed property claimant whose claim is denied or not acted upon in a timely manner. Current law only provides for a claimant to bring an action in circuit court, which requires the claimant to pay for court costs even before a decision can be made. An administrative review process would establish a uniform procedure for handling complaints, would proceed in a much timelier manner, and would not result in mandatory costs or fees, thus making the process more amenable to both the Unclaimed Property Program and to the claimant.

           The Department of Justice recommended this process to the Treasurer’s Office, and I believe that the time has come to institute this reform.  

 

Testimony of Wisconsin State Treasurer Kurt Schuller to the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations Regarding SB 295

January 25, 2012 

Delivered on Behalf of the State Treasurer by Deputy State Treasurer Scott Feldt 

                 I would like to thank Chairman Zipperer and the members of the Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations for accepting my testimony on behalf of SB 295.

                The passage of SB 295 would provide an extra layer of protection for unclaimed property owners who enter into agreements with “search firms” or unclaimed property “locators”. The bill would require that the afforementioned firms provide the Unclaimed Property Program with a copy of the fee agreement that they entered into with the unclaimed property owner at the time of the claim submission. With this information in hand, the Unclaimed Property Program can proceed to process the claim with every assurance that the property owner and the search firm have entered into a legal agreement.

SB 295 will protect our state’s unclaimed property claimants without causing search firms undue difficulty, and I encourage the members of this committee to pass this bill in order to ensure full compliance with statutory requirements.

 

Testimony of Wisconsin State Treasurer Kurt Schuller to the Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations Regarding SB 296

January 25, 2012 

Delivered on Behalf of the State Treasurer by Deputy State Treasurer Scott Feldt

 

                   Once again, I am pleased to present testimony before Chairman Zipperer and the Committee on Judicary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations regarding the amendment of the Unclaimed Property Act.

                  I am here to register my complete support to SB 296, which would grant the Unclaimed Property Administrator discretion when determing whether or not to assess penalties and interest against businesses not in compliance with current statutory requirements. Our office does not want to be forced to assess penalties on businesses who fail to report due only to innocent oversight.

                As a small agency, my office has never had sufficient staff to enforce the statute as currently written. However, due to technological advances, we are now able to make a major push to increase compliance – which we have long wished to do. By allowing the Unclaimed Property Administrator the discretion prescribed by SB 296, my office can focus on bringing Wisconsin businesses into compliance with our unclaimed property laws without causing those businesses undue economic hardship. SB 296 is a win for both the Unclaimed Property Program and Wisconsin businesses, and I encourage its passage.