House approves Volz amendment to bill aimed at preventing foreclosure

On Tuesday, the Washington State House of Representatives accepted an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mike Volz that enhanced a bill intended to keep taxpayers out of foreclosure.

The underlying legislation, House Bill 1105, seeks to help families stay in their homes by providing additional resources to homeowners facing foreclosure. Volz offered an amendment to the bill to reduce cost burdens for individuals who are delinquent on their property taxes. The measure, Amendment 197, would strike provisions in current law that require counties to charge an 11 percent penalty on top of the interest already charged for delinquent property tax payments.

“In the late 1970s and early 1980s, interest rates went through the roof. In response, the Legislature at the time raised the underlying interest rate charged on delinquent property taxes to 12 percent, as well as added an 11 percent penalty. This amounted to a 23 percent penalty and interest after the first year. Lawmakers also exempted property tax collections from the state's usury laws, which are meant to protect consumers by regulating the amount of interest that can be collected,” said Volz, R-Spokane. “Current interest rates simply don't warrant such a hefty and punitive fee. If we're serious about protecting consumers and taxpayers from foreclosure, it's high time we remove this outdated policy from state law.”

The amendment echoes policy Volz attempted to get passed earlier this year with House Bill 1926, which would have protected consumers from exorbitant interest rates.

Spokane County Treasurer and former state Senator Michael Baumgartner recently endorsed the amendment.

“I am pleased that Rep. Volz's amendment to reduce the current near usury penalty rate on delinquent property taxes was adopted prior to final passage,” said Baumgartner. “As a county treasurer, we should be doing everything in our power to keep people in their homes rather than further penalize those experiencing tough financial times. Rep. Volz knows this both as a legislator and as Spokane County's chief deputy treasurer, and I applaud his efforts to bring this bipartisan amendment forward.”

Clark County Treasurer Alishia Topper also applauded Volz's amendment, saying she supports his efforts “to reduce the financial burden of taxpayers struggling to pay their delinquent taxes and to help keep taxpayers in their homes.”

House Bill 1105 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov