Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Here is a summary of the meeting between Jim Knapp, Liam Murphy, myself and the Tax Department that I mentioned in yesterday’s post. This summary was sent by Bill Johnson of the Tax Dept. I haven’t spoken with Liam but Jim Knapp agrees it is an accurate report of the meeting:

Seems to me that yesterday’s meeting was constructive. I think the following summarizes the results of the meeting.

• We would put back up the fillable pdf form (before it is made available again, we will put the disclaimer that the form is only valid until March 31, 2011). I will let Liam know when it is available again.

• Split the functions of the verify / submit button and create two buttons.

• Make it more apparent that they are able to print out a transaction before it is 100% complete and in a format that is the same as the final form (needs something like a DRAFT watermark).

• In addition, we can talk about additional changes including

• Give users an easier way to delete a second buyer (or seller, I would think) if one is accidentally enters.

• On form but not our back end system, include an option for multiple dates for acquisition of the property.

• Add school district name to the SPAN dropdown.

• In the Act 250 Disclosure section, allow users to mark multiple options for D2.

• Give users a button that allows them to go to comment field more easily.

As for these changes, the ability to print out a transaction prior to completion is a difficult one for us and while we will do this and do it in a way that makes it clear that people cannot file these as valid PTTRs, we will monitor how people use the draft form. If too many people actually decide to file the draft form with the Department as a return, we will need to change the draft form in some way that prevents this from occurring. Hopefully, this will be a non-issue. Also, I included the issue of deleting the second buyer/seller above. Because there is already a delete button for this (I believe there is anyway), I’m not sure that this really is an issue – we’ll continue to look into it.

From our perspective, most of the other issues from your memo have either already been fixed or represent educational issues. I think in the last part of our discussion we were able to explain why some of these things are technically non-issues and that when a person understands the system, the perceived problem like the closing date disappears (actually, I believe we structured the closing date logic to try to be responsive to comments that Liam made during our earlier meetings).

We also talked about scheduling the training seminars. Jim Knapp will be the principal instructor and Tom and I agree to have Grace and Michelle attend the two sessions and help Jim. Sessions will be in March. We will need to talk with VIC next week to understand how quickly they can make the two major changes from above.
I’ve just been told that the House General Affairs Committee wants to take testimony on H. 57, AN ACT RELATING TO DISCLOSURE TO POTENTIAL BUYERS OF A BUILDING’S ENERGY PERFORMANCE. This is something we need to watch. I know the property law list serve has seen a lot of discussion about it and I’ve just been asked to recruit witnesses.

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee, as expected, returned to both child support and to S. 38, the uniform collateral consequences of conviction act. On child support OCS Executive Director Jeff Cohen and Bob Greemore presented the committee a summary of their research and ideas. They were able to respond to the idea of mandating support payments while a child was in college; no state does that. OCS proposed reducing the surcharge to 6% from the present 12%. They are also working on re-wording the “802 notice” to make it very clear that motions to modify can and must be made in a timely way. One idea that intrigued the chair was the waiver of filing fees if a parent were to apply to OCS for services (i.e. making all wage withholding IV-D cases). In that case, OCS, a state agency doesn’t pay the filing fee AND, better still, the federal government reimburses the state 66% of that fee. Everybody seemed to like that outcome!

Anyway, where things were left is that Jeff, Greenie and Michelle Childs, legislative counsel, will be meeting to work up a bill draft by Friday, February 18th with a hearing date on the draft set for Wednesday, the 23rd. This would be introduced as a committee bill. The process is a bit backward from the usual. Instead of a bill being introduced and committee to a committee, a committee bill is written in committee and sent to the floor. I’ve notified the Chair of the VBA’s Family Law Section to be on tap for that date.

Then the committee transitioned to S. 38, the UCCCA. They heard from Assistant AG John Treadwell and Defender General Matt Valerio; the committee ran out of time before hearing from Bob Greemore. The AG’s office says the collection and publication of the consequences of conviction is s good idea but, until a complete “list” is compiled, requiring that they be given to a defendant on multiple occasions will only create problems. He proposed actually compiling that list; that seems close to impossible. Matt Valerio told the committee that the VBA Board has endorsed this bill and he stressed the often lifelong consequences on young people. So, the committee agreed to return to the bill next week on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Finally, the House Judiciary Committee will review H. 78 next week. That’s the uniform adult guardianship and protective proceedings jurisdiction act that’s been endorsed by the VBA Board, the Elder Law Section, and the Probate and Trust Section.

I will be away next week (after Monday) attending the ABA Mid Winter Meeting and unable to report to you. I will be monitoring emails and will respond. Thanks for reading, as always.

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