March 22, 2006

Tax-Lien Reform Tabled in the Senate

Carroll Andrew Morse

In addition to eminent domain reform, the Senate Judiciary Committee also considered two sets of tax-lien reform proposals last night. Senate bill 2424, introduced by Senator Leo Blais (R-Coventry/Foster/Scituate) at the request of Governor Donald Carcieri, and Senate bills 2092 and 2453 introduced by Senators Harold Metts (D-Providence), Juan Pichardo (D-Providence), and Rhoda Perry (D-Providence), would change the tax-lien sale procedure in Rhode Island to automatically involve the Rhode Island Housing and Finance Mortgage Corporation in any sale involving a residential property of four or fewer units. Both sets of bills would also strengthen the procedures for notifying delinquent owners that take place as part of a tax-lien sale.

Had this law been in place last year when Madeline Walker defaulted on her obligations, the government, through RIHFMC, would have been charged with trying to find a way to get its money without evicting Ms. Walker from her home.

The Judiciary Committee voted to hold both sets of tax-lien reform bills for further study. A quick look at the legislative record from past years shows that “further study” is basically sometimes a euphemism for killing a bill.

This doesn’t yet mean that tax-lien reform is officially done for this year; there are still 3 bills (H6704, H7364, H7740) pending in the House, though none has yet been scheduled for a committee hearing.


Upon further review of last year's record, I see that bills sometimes do come back from "further study" to be passed, though "further study" can also be the last official action taken on a bill.