February 12, 2008

 

Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs Hears Testimony on LITE-House Act

 

MADISON – Today, the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs heard testimony on the Senate Bill 403, the Low Income Tax Exempt Housing Act, also known as the LITE-House Act.  The LITE-House Act is a narrowly-crafted, property tax exemption for low-income housing owned by non-profit groups.  The bill is authored by Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Representative Mark Gottlieb (R-Port Washington), who chairs the Committee. 

“This legislation is a giant step in ensuring that low-income housing remains available to those in need,” said Sen. Taylor. “The organizations that provide low-income housing are out there doing the entire community a great service.  This bill will help them to provide more housing in a way that doesn’t shift the tax burden onto Wisconsin’s families.  I think that’s a big reason why it’s got such bipartisan support.”

Taylor and Gottlieb authored the Act in response to Columbus Park Housing Corporation v. City of Kenosha, a 2003 Wisconsin State Supreme Court case.  The holding in that case put many low-income housing providers at risk of being wrongly assessed for property taxes.  Since the Court’s ruling in Columbus Park, the Legislature has struggled to reach an agreeable solution to exempt status of certain housing.  The LITE-House Act is the product of months of negotiations by housing groups, municipalities, and state officials to bring about a consensus to protect low-income and very low-income persons. 

“Since Columbus Park, we have labored on this issue in the Legislature,” Sen. Taylor explained. “With the LITE-House Act, we finally have an agreement that will protect our poorest citizens while also ensuring that money from the tax exemption isn’t used in a way that further burdens taxpayers.”

With its public hearing completed, the LITE-House Act will soon be scheduled for an executive hearing.  If the Act is recommended for passage by the Committee, it will be moved before the full Assembly for a final vote on passage. 

“Working with Representative Gottlieb on this has shown to me what the Legislature can do when we work together,” remarked Sen. Taylor. “I’m pleased that the LITE-House Act has been given a chance to move forward in the Assembly and, hopefully, we can get it to the Governor’s desk in the next few weeks for his signature.”