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UNCLAIMED PROPERTY FOCUS is a blog written by and for UPPO members, featuring diverse perspectives and insights from unclaimed property practitioners across the U.S. and Canada. We welcome your submissions to Unclaimed Property Focus. Please contact Tim Dressen via tim@uppo.org with any questions about submitting a blog post for consideration and refer to our editorial guidelines when writing your blog post. Disclaimer: Information and/or comments to this blog is not intended as a substitute for legal advice on compliance or reporting requirements.

 

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Insights from the NAST Symposium, Part 2

Posted By Contribution by Christa DeOliveira and Michael Unger, Thursday, July 11, 2019
Updated: Thursday, July 11, 2019

The National Association of State Treasurers’ (NAST) Annual Treasury Management Training Symposium held during May 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island, was engaging and enlightening. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) is affiliated with NAST and led the well-attended unclaimed property track of educational workshops and sessions. This blog post is part two in a series about the topics discussed in the symposium sessions. Read part one here.

 

Legislation 

Discussion about RUUPA-inspired legislation characterized it as not following a one-size-fits-all approach. Some jurisdictions, including Colorado, the District of Columbia and Vermont, have repealed their unclaimed property statutes and enacted new versions of RUUPA that have been largely modeled after the Uniform Law Commission’s version. Others, including Maine, South Carolina and Washington, introduced amended versions of RUUPA.

 

Still other states, including Minnesota, maintained their existing statute with expansive modifications incorporating RUUPA-like designs. These bills keep significant portions of current law, including examination of records, release and holder indemnifications, associated periods of limitation, and owner claims. They also add many amended RUUPA provisions. 

 

Another approach is to limited the scope of changes by keeping existing law and incorporating RUUPA-inspired provisions. Nevada took this approach, as most of the current law remains intact, but it proposes several dormancy periods like RUUPA, allows for electronic owner outreach under specified conditions, and makes some adjustments to included property types.

 

Direct payments to owners were dubbed as the ultimate outreach. This is where the state issues a payment to the owner in the absence of a claim. Naturally, states conducting this type of direct payment have certain criteria, such as comparing the address on reported property to the address on tax records (or other state/government databases), and the dollar value of the payment. Colorado enacted this option as part of its RUUPA bill and Florida has pending legislation related to state and local governments on specified small-value claims. California, District of Columbia, Maine and Vermont were also cited for considering similar pending bills.

 

South Dakota enacted a reduction in aggregate reporting from $50 down to $10. There was pending legislation to eliminate aggregate reporting altogether in Connecticut, Nebraska and Nevada.

 

Time limits on claims was a hot topic again at this year’s symposium. Georgia has enacted narrow “pure” escheat legislation to terminate an owner’s right to claim property for unclaimed excess proceeds from the sale of abandoned vehicles. Hawaii had two such bills that failed. S.B. 978 would have property with a value of less than $250 escheat to the state, if not claimed within five years. H.B. 1130 would have had property less than $100 automatically escheat to the state upon being reported and remitted. In both Hawaii bills, the owners’ property rights would be fully terminated.

 

Notably, participants expressed concern about enacting time limits on claims. It was described as bad policy and in contrast to the purpose of unclaimed property laws existing to protect the property rights of owners. The shift from the state assuming title, rather than a custodial role, may cause due process violations and be constitutionally problematic, according to the discussion. It was also noted GASB accounting rules already have provisions for setting up reserves for the amount expected to be claimed and taking the rest into income. Again this year, NAUPA discussed drafting a resolution about preserving owner rights to claim unclaimed property from states in perpetuity.

 

It was reported that, at the time of the symposium, DMF matching requirements exist in 33 states, in some form. Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming added this requirement since last year’s symposium, and there was pending legislation in California, D.C. and Massachusetts.

 

Litigation

Litigation was also discussed. Several cases related to disputes in holders producing records were noted: Texas v. ClubCorp Holdings Inc.Commonwealth, Treasury Department. v. PPL Corporation.Delaware, Department of Finance v. Univar Inc., and Univar Inc. v. Geisenberger. Current active cases discussed were: Faasse v. Coinbase Inc. as a cryptocurrency case; Weinbach v. Boeing Company as a case asserting wrongful escheat; and United Insurance Company of America v. Patronis, appealing a prior insurance ruling in Florida. 

 

Cases related to the treatment of class action proceeds were cited: McLeod v. Bank of America, N.A. and Rodriguez v. Danell Custom Harvesting, LLC, and Tennille et al. v. The Western Union Co. et al. Two qui tam (whistleblower) cases were touched on: Total Asset Recovery Services, LLC v. MetLife Inc. and Delaware ex rel. French v. Overstock.com Inc.         

 

More expansively, Kolton v. Frerichs and Goldberg v. Frerichs deal with not paying interest on claims. In Goldberg v. Frerichs, loss of the time value of money on property can be compensated for by giving owners the benefit of interim earnings. In Goldberg, the court cited an example of a rare coin being reported and remitted as unclaimed property. If the coin is sold, the owner loses out on the opportunity of appreciation. As such, it is insufficient to compensate the owner simply with the sale proceeds when the owner claims his property. Instead, upon claiming, the owner would be entitled to the earnings on the invested proceeds as the best substitute for the loss of appreciation. In the Goldberg case, the court made the caveat that low value properties may be treated differently and are most unlikely to be entitled to earn interest where the administrative cost exceeds the interest. In April 2019, the plaintiffs’ in Goldbergsought to renew a class certification; therefore, this litigation is ongoing.

 

Based on this case the following questions were raised in the session: Will this lead to other litigation? Will this ruling be constrained to the 7th Circuit? Will states change their unclaimed property statutes to proactively address questions about interest? If states do decide to determine what will qualify as the threshold for accounts where the interest exceeds the administrative costs to preserve the account? If new statutes on interest are enacted what proxy will be used to determine the time value of money?

 

Time Bars

Currently there is not uniformity amongst state laws regarding the period of time after which a state cannot enforce its unclaimed property law. Such time bars can encompass periods of limitation, statutes of limitation, periods of repose or lapsed periods of enforcement. 

 

The different approaches include a set number of years; the number of years contingent on filing or notice; a hybrid of both; a limitation based on years to be examined under audit; some other form of limitation; or no time bar limitation at all. Also, states enacting RUUPA have followed different approaches, including following RUUPA language, maintaining provisions in current law or following other approaches.

 

The various versions of the Uniform Law Commission’s Uniform Unclaimed Property Acts contain different time bars, with the 2016 version listing five years from the date of a report and 10 years if no report was filed. In the presentation, it was noted this approach was not required and, instead, this was promulgated as an accommodation to holders.

 

The session equated time bars to an all-encompassing reporting exemption. It was noted that time bars regularly do not receive the deliberation they merit when drafting or considering new unclaimed property legislation. Further, the importance of weighing public and private interests when setting a time bar was raised.

 

While NAUPA succeeded on many controversial issues, it did not prevail on the matter of time bars, according to the discussion. NAUPA recommendations to the Uniform Law Commission were discussed as being 10 years, generally, but 15 years for either nonreporting or underreporting. The caveat to this was that if the holder’s books and records showed acknowledged liabilities that are presumed unclaimed, even if they were reportable prior to the time bar, it would not qualify. NAUPA communicated to the ULC it strongly opposed the ULC time bar provision.

 

Panelists discussed with certainty that shorter and more absolute time bars will result in less property being collected. The following recommendations were made related to enacting or revising legislation: do not include a time bar, but rather address look backs administratively; if a time bar is included, follow the 1995 Act provisions or what NAUPA proposed to the ULC; at minimum, follow the 1981 Act of 10 years plus the corresponding dormancy period; and consider the lessons of matured, unpaid life insurance.

 

The NAST Symposium unclaimed property track included important insights on legislation, suggestions on drafting legislation, court cases and time bars. While the topics covered may not directly or indirectly impact all property type holders, it is worthwhile to remain aware of NAUPA developments. It is also important to be informed of opportunities to work together with states, where our expertise and needs are aligned, and we can share our respective unique expertise and insights, and related unclaimed property challenges or issues.  

 

More information on this symposium will be available in future blog posts.

 

Christina DeOliveira is chief compliance officer with Linking Assets Inc. Michael Unger is a senior manager with Crowe LLP’s unclaimed property practice. 

 

Tags:  legislation  litigation  NAST  NAUPA  time bars  unclaimed property 

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2018 Unclaimed Property Legislative Roundup

Posted By Administration with contribution by Marcella Easly, senior compliance advisor at UPCR, Thursday, July 12, 2018

Unclaimed property continues to be a popular topic for state legislatures. Although a handful of state legislatures are still in session, most have completed their work. Following is a brief summary of some of the noteworthy unclaimed property bills that became law during the 2018 session. 

 

Arizona

Effective on July 1, 2018, Arizona S.B. 1412 revises provisions concerning unclaimed property credits of electric cooperatives. Among its provisions, it allows a cooperative to use all unclaimed capital credits or fees for any lawful purpose that is consistent with the cooperative’s bylaws and authorized by the cooperative’s board of directors. Additionally, the bill exempts unclaimed capital credits and fees from the state’s Unclaimed Property Act. It also prohibits an individual, corporation, business association or other organization from diverting personal property to circumvent the unclaimed property process.

 

Effective on April 17. 2018, Arizona S.B. 1264 prohibits a gift card from being subject to a fee, except as noted. It also states that the underlying monies on a gift card may not be subject to an expiration date, though a gift card, code or device associated with a gift card may contain an expiration date if certain conditions are met.

 

Hawaii

Effective on Jan. 1, 2019, Hawaii S.B. 208 adopts the National Conference of Insurance Legislators’ Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act, which requires life insurers to conduct database searches using the federal Social Security Administration’s death master file or similar database to determine whether an insured has died. It requires life insurers to use good faith efforts to locate any beneficiaries to a policy, contract or retained asset account.

 

Indiana

Effective on July 1, 2018, Indiana S.B. 376 provides, for purposes of the unclaimed property act, that a time deposit that is automatically renewable is considered matured upon the expiration of its initial period, unless: (1) the owner has consented to a renewal at the time of the account opening or at about the time of the renewal; and (2) the consent is in writing or is evidenced by the original account agreement or by any memorandum or other record on file with the holder of the account.

 

Kentucky

Effective on July 14, 2018, Kentucky H.B. 394 enacts the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act of 2016. it also requires the State Treasurer to submit a report on the status of the abandoned property fund to the Legislative Research Commission by December 15, 2018.

 

Missouri

Effective on Aug. 28, 2018, Missouri S.B. 644 creates the crime of failure to register with the state treasurer to claim property on behalf of another person for a fee, set as a class A misdemeanor. The claim form will provide notice of the requirement to register with the treasurer if one is acting as a compensated representative for another individual entitled to unclaimed property. It also allows the treasurer to review and withhold any claim until he or she is reasonably satisfied that the claim is legitimate and that the person making the claim is aware of the nature and potential value of his or her claim.

 

Effective on Aug, 28, 2018, Missouri H.B. 1879 revises notification and abandonment requirements pertaining to consumer deposit accounts with a banking or financial organization.

 

Effective on Aug. 28, 2018, Missouri S.B. 769 provides that whenever a consumer deposit account with a banking organization or financial organization has been inactive for 12 months or more and inactivity fees apply, the organization must notify the account holder of such inactivity through first class mail postage prepaid marked “Address Correction Requested” or through electronic notice if the consumer has agreed to this. Additionally, the bank must send annual statements for such account and charge a fee up to $5 per statement.

 

Pennsylvania

Effective on Dec. 25, 2018, Pennsylvania H.B. 152 requires life insurance providers to participate in the Life Policy Locator Service adopted by NAIC.

 

South Dakota

Effective on Jan. 1, 2019, South Dakota H.B. 45 revises certain provisions regarding the sale of unclaimed property. It extends the timeframe before the state treasurer can sell abandoned stocks, bonds, and other negotiable instruments from 90 to 180 days.

 

Utah

Effective on May 8, 2018, Utah S.B. 156 defines various terms, subjects stored-value cards and payroll cards to the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, provides a time period after which a stored-value card is considered unclaimed property, exempts 529 educational savings accounts from certain provisions, and addresses the State Tax Commission's responsibilities with regard to unclaimed property.

 

Virginia

Effective on July 1, 2018, Virginia S.B. 253 and H.B. 686 clarify the criteria that must be met for a bank or other financial organization to impose charges or cease to pay interest on a dormant or inactive account that differs from those imposed on active accounts. The holder may reverse or cancel dormancy charges or retroactively credit interest upon the request of the owner if it also does so for all such property that becomes subject to certain unclaimed property reporting requirements.

 

Wisconsin

Effective on April 5, 2018, Wisconsin S.B. 274 implements the Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act prepared by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators. Generally, the bill addresses the obligations of an insurer providing life insurance policies, annuities, or retained asset accounts with respect to identifying insureds who have died and their beneficiaries.

 

For the latest information about these and other noteworthy unclaimed property bills, visit UPPO’s govWATCH website

Tags:  Arizona  Hawaii  Indiana  Kentucky  legislation  Missouri  Pennsylvania  South Dakota  unclaimed property  Utah  Virginia  Wisconsin 

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California Legislature Considers Voluntary Disclosure Program

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 5, 2018

A.B. 2773, a bill under consideration by the California Assembly, would establish a voluntary disclosure program in the state. If passed, the statute would require the state controller to create a program following several requirements similar to those in other state voluntary disclosure programs. They include:

  • The program would be open to holders out of compliance with applicable unclaimed property reporting deadlines if they are not already under audit when applying to participate.
  • Participating holders would be expected to review their records and report obligations to the state for the previous 10 years. 
  • The controller would waive interest and penalty charges for holders completing the program in good faith and coming into compliance.
  • The holder would not be subject to audit for the period covered by the voluntary disclosure agreement (VDA) unless the controller reasonably determines the holder has made a fraudulent or willful misrepresentation. 
  • Payment to the state for outstanding liabilities would occur within 12 months from the VDA filing date or another date determined by the controller. 

If adopted, the program would begin on Jan. 1, 2019, and would remain in effect until Jan. 1, 2024, unless extended by statute. 

 

On March 15, 2018, UPPO notified bill author Assemblyman Dante Acosta of its support for the bill and availability to provide expert testimony or other assistance regarding the legislation and its subsequent implementation. 

 

A.B. 2773 is scheduled for an April 10 hearing by the assembly’s judiciary committee. UPPO members can track the progress of this bill and all active unclaimed property legislation nationwide via our govWATCH service

Tags:  California  legislation  VDAs  voluntary disclosure agreements 

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2017 Unclaimed Property Legislative Roundup

Posted By Administration with contribution by Marcella Easly, senior compliance advisor at UPCR, Thursday, July 13, 2017

Across the nation, unclaimed property has been a popular topic for state legislatures this year. Although a handful of state legislatures are still in session, most have completed their work. Following is a brief summary of some of the most noteworthy unclaimed property bills that became law during the 2017 session. 

 

Delaware

Effective on Feb. 2, 2017, S.B. 13 adopts in substance many provisions from the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission. In addition, it adopts certain recommendations from the Delaware Unclaimed Property Task Force formed under Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 59 of the 147th General Assembly, and makes significant changes to the state's unclaimed property reporting process and compliance initiatives. More specifically, these changes include reducing the look-back period of all voluntary disclosure agreements and audits to 10 report years, and creating a 10-year statute of limitations for the state to seek payment of unclaimed property due to the state. In addition, this legislation aligns the state’s record retention requirement for companies with the statute of limitations and look back period, which brings State law into conformity with a majority of other states. This bill also offers any company currently under audit prior to July 22, 2015, the opportunity to convert their audit into a voluntary disclosure agreement by entering into the Secretary of State Voluntary Disclosure Agreement program. All companies who received a notice of examination and are currently under audit as of the effective date of this Act will have the opportunity to engage in an expedited audit review process. Finally, the bill mandates that interest be assessed on any late-filed unclaimed property, as a means to incentivize voluntary compliance. See previous UPPO’s May 4 blog post for more information about S.B. 13. 

 

Effective on June 29, 2017, S.B. 79 makes changes and corrections to SB 13. Among these changes, the amended bill ensures holders have sufficient time to comply with SB 13’s due diligence requirements with owners. It further clarifies that the state will indemnify and defend a holder against claims made by a foreign jurisdiction for property paid or delivered to the state escheator in good faith.

 

Idaho

Effective on July 1, 2017, H.B. 152 establishes an exemption from Unclaimed Property law for nonprofit corporations providing telecommunications service and delivery of electric power.

 

Illinois

Effective on Jan. 1, 2018, S.B. 9 creates the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. It adds language concerning definitions, applicability, rulemaking, and presumptively abandoned property. The bill also includes rules for taking custody of property that is presumed abandoned, reporting requirements, and required notice to property owners, among other provisions. The bill expressly excludes gift cards, loyalty cards and game-related digital content from property subject to escheat. However, it does not exclude gift cards from the definition of “stored-value cards,” which are subject to escheat, creating a potential conflict. The bill also specifies that virtual currency is subject to escheat. The state’s business-to-business exemption is not retained under the new bill.

 

New Hampshire 

Effective on Jan. 1, 2018, H.B. 473 increases the threshold above which merchants can sell gift cards with expiration dates from $100 to $250. The bill further clarifies that gift certificates of $250 or less shall not be considered abandoned property, and it revises the definition of gift certificate by removing the requirement that a gift certificate be in writing. The bill also provides that gift certificates and store credits remitted to the state prior to Jan. 1, 2018, must remain in the custody of the state until returned to the owner.

 

South Dakota

Effective on March 10, 2017, S.B. 34 revises provisions related to securities held as unclaimed property. It requires the state treasurer to sell all stocks, bonds, and other negotiable instruments within 90 days of confirmed receipt, unless the property is on an open claim.

 

Effective on July 1, 2017, H.B. 1081 revises provisions for establishing a trust for a mineral owner who cannot be located. It provides that a person or entity holding interest in a tract of land may petition a county court to create a trust in favor of an undetermined owner of a mineral interest in that tract of land. It further provides conditions for the creation and administration of such a trust.

 

Tennessee

Effective on July 1, 2017, H.B. 420 repeals and reenacts the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. It includes dormancy periods, reporting and due diligence requirements, and abandoned life insurance provisions, among other measures. The bill requires the treasurer to sell or liquidate securities between eight months and one year after receiving the security. 

 

Texas 

Effective on Sept. 1, 2017, S.B. 561 relates to unclaimed life insurance and annuity contract proceeds. Among its provisions, the bill requires an insurer to periodically compare its applicable in-force life insurance policies, annuity contracts, and retained asset accounts against a Death Master File. In the event of a match, insurers are required to complete a good faith review of the situation, and if proceeds may be due, to conduct outreach to beneficiaries within 90 days and provide assistance in making a claim. The bill further requires an insurer to report and deliver unclaimed proceeds to the comptroller of public accounts.

 

Effective on Sept. 1, 2017, H.B. 2964 adopts a Senate amendment and provides that a holder of mutual fund shares must notify an owner at initial purchase that the owner may designate a representative to receive a notice of abandonment.

 

Utah

Effective on May 8, 2017, H.B. 175 repeals and reenacts the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. Among its provisions, the bill revises presumptions of abandonment, amends reporting procedures, and addresses the duties of a holder of abandoned or unclaimed property.

 

Effective on May 8, 2017, H.B. 42 makes comprehensive revisions to insurance law. Among other changes, the bill amends definitions under the Unclaimed Life Insurance and Annuity Benefits Act by removing the definition of "Knowledge of death."

 

For the latest information about these and other noteworthy unclaimed property bills, visit UPPO’s govWATCH website. 

 

About the contributor 

Marcella Easly, senior compliance advisor at Unclaimed Property Consulting & Reporting (UPCR), contributes to UPPO’s regular legislative update blog posts. Easly has more than 30 years of unclaimed property experience with special focus in state legislative tracking and resolving client-state advocacy issues. She was Unclaimed Property Manager for the State of Oregon for 14 years.  She was active in the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), serving as president, and regional vice president.  She was instrumental in the creation of the NAUPA property type reporting codes.  She has been with UPCR for 11 years, and has been active in UPPO for more than 13 years.   

 

 

Tags:  Delaware  Idaho  Illinois  legislation  New Hampshire  South Dakota  Tennessee  Texas  unclaimed property  Utah 

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Legislative process offers multiple opportunities for member advocacy

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 23, 2017

Just two months into 2017, the year is already shaping up to be one of the busiest in recent memory for unclaimed property bills under consideration by state legislatures across the country. Because these bills have the potential to significantly change compliance requirements, unclaimed property professionals not otherwise inclined to participate in the political process beyond voting in the elections may develop a greater interest in advocacy.

 

Many of us remember the basics of how a bill becomes a law from Schoolhouse Rocks or high school civics lessons—the legislative branch of government considers the bill and, if passed, the governor decides whether to sign it into law. However, the path a bill takes is a bit more detailed than that, and definitely worth understanding to recognize where in the process advocacy efforts are likely to be most effective.

 

“Understanding how a bill progresses is really important,” says Karen Anderson, senior manager, state and local tax, unclaimed property for KPMG LLP. “A bill usually goes through two chambers, and it goes through committees in each, so there are several components to the process where communication is not only important but also welcomed by state legislatures and governors.” 

 

Every state operates under slightly different procedures and processes, so the nuances of the legislative process will vary. However, this overview should provide a reasonable understanding of the journey an unclaimed property bill is likely to take on its way to becoming a law or not.

 

Introduction and First Reading

Other than Nebraska, state legislatures have two chambers. Any legislator in either chamber can introduce a bill. Some issues tend to skew heavily toward introduction by one political party, but unclaimed property bill authors aren’t so easily defined.

 

“Legislators introducing unclaimed property bills could be doing so for one of several reasons,” says Kendall Houghton, partner with Alston & Bird LLP. “A constituent may have approached them after experiencing an issue related to unclaimed property. A committee member works with a state administrator who encourages introduction of a bill. Or another stakeholder may push for new legislation. So, because legislation may originate in many different ways, there isn’t really a ‘typical’ profile of an unclaimed property bill.”

 

State legislative procedures usually require bill to go through three official readings before becoming law. Depending on the state, the first reading may occur either before or after being assigned to a committee. Some states have rules preventing bills from proceeding through the system too quickly, preventing adequate time for study and public comment. California, for example, specifies that bills cannot receive a vote until at least 30 days after introduction.  

 

Committee Consideration

Either before or after the first reading of the bill, depending on the state, a committee made up of members of the legislative chamber where the bill was introduced receives the bill for consideration. The process for assigning bills to specific committees varies by state, but it generally goes to a committee deemed to have the appropriate interest or expertise in the subject being considered. It may go to a banking, finance, taxation or revenue committee, however it’s not uncommon to find an unclaimed property bill assigned elsewhere, depending on the state and specific issues the bill addresses.

 

“If someone wants to get active, the committee assigned to review the bill is the first place to have a great impact advocating for or against it,” says Michelle Andre, managing member of Tre Towers Advisory Group LLC. “Getting information to the chair and members of that committee, as well as the sponsors of the bill makes a lot of sense. Most legislators don’t understand unclaimed property from an owner and holder perspective, so you need to be very clear about where you stand on an issue and why.”

 

The committee may review and vote on the bill or, in some cases, the committee chair may decline to move the bill forward. The committee may hold a public hearing to gather additional information. The committee may table the bill or vote on it. If tabled, a vote may or may not be held later. If a vote is held, the committee can either advance the bill, in which case it returns to the house of origin, or defeat the bill, killing it in committee.

 

Because committees hold the power to advance or kill a bill, this is an important stage in the process for parties interested in supporting or fighting the legislation. Contacting the committee chair and members to educate them on the bill’s potential effects can be beneficial.

 

Second and Third Reading

If the bill returns to the chamber of origin, that chamber’s leadership typically decides whether to schedule the bill for its second reading. If not, the bill dies. If the bill receives a second reading, legislators may have a chance to debate and suggest amendments, which are incorporated into the bill if approved by a majority vote. Again, each state and each legislative chamber has its own rules; some prohibit debate and/or amendments until after the third reading.

 

When the third reading occurs, legislators generally get an opportunity to discuss, debate and amend it before a final vote. If the legislature approves the bill, it transfers to the other chamber of the legislature.

 

Because unclaimed property is not a high-profile issue, many legislators responsible for voting on it will not know its intricacies or understand the potential ramifications of the bill they are considering. That’s where constituents play an important role. Contacting legislators in your district to encourage them to favor or oppose a bill and explain why they should take that position can make a significant difference.

 

“The value of grassroots contacts cannot be underestimated,” Houghton says. “If you reside in the legislator’s district or your business is headquartered in their district, those contacts mean a lot to elected officials. Education on the issues is really important to help them understand what their vote really means. That type of outreach doesn’t take a lot of time, but it can be very impactful.”

 

The Other House

If the bill moves to the other chamber, the process repeats. It is assigned to a committee in the second chamber and may move on or die. It again will go through the three-reading process and may move forward or die at any stage. Again, interested parties have a chance to educate and influence committee members and elected officials from their districts.

 

If the second chamber approves the bill with no amendments, it moves on to the governor. If it has been amended, it returns to the chamber of origin, which may vote to approve the amended bill, sending it to the governor, or vote against the new bill, sending it instead to a conference committee. If a conference committee receives the bill, members of both legislative chambers work to reach an agreement on the language of the bill. If they fail to reach an acceptable compromise, the bill dies. If they reach agreement, the bill returns to both chambers for another vote.

 

Governor

Once both chambers of the legislature agree upon and approve a bill, it moves to the executive branch of government for consideration by the governor. However, the governor’s influence on a bill may occur well before it reaches this stage. While a bill is still under consideration in the legislature, the governor may suggest to legislators or to the public whether a bill is likely to be signed into law and under what conditions. This may influence how legislators draft, amend and/or vote on a bill.

 

“Sometimes people forget that governors are such a key component to the legislative process,” Anderson says. “They aren’t merely a last step, but in many cases they’re involved as a bill moves through the legislatures.” 

 

When a bill that has been approved by the legislature reaches the governor, three things can happen. The governor may sign it, allow it to become law without signing it or veto it. Upon a veto, the legislature typically has the ability to override the veto with a two-third vote in both chambers.

 

Some bills will include an effective date as part of their language. Others may not, in which case it is effective on a specific date as mandated by the state’s laws. Some states, for example, specify that the bill is effective immediately upon receiving the governor’s signature unless otherwise specified, while others designate a timeframe (30 days after the governor’s approval, for example) or a certain date, such as Jan. 1 of the following year.

 

govWATCH

As you can see, there are a lot of stages to any bill’s path from inception to enactment. This enables you to express your support for or opposition to the bill at several points throughout the process. Fortunately, tracking a bill’s progress is easy for UPPO members. UPPO monitors all of the pertinent bills affecting members and reports on their status via the govWATCH website and email updates. Let your voice be heard and make a difference.

 

“If members are trying to get a handle on issues that are likely to be the subject of legislation this year, they should read the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act and pay close attention to govWATCH,” Houghton says. “Those are the two resources that provide great information on issues that matter to the unclaimed property community (states, holders, industries, audit firms and owners) and what is being introduced.”

 

 

Tags:  legislation  unclaimed property 

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