A more efficient land bureau? Not this year
Legislation that would allow online technology for land recording and information has hit a Senate roadblock.
After an investigation, a legislative committee early this year laid out a list of fixes it wanted the state's land records agency to make. By then, the department that oversees the troubled Bureau of Conveyances, with suggestions from a range of concerned parties, had begun to put together a plan to correct acknowledged problems.
Lawmakers, land department officials and bureau administrators all seemed to be on the same page. With the support of Sen. Jill Tokuda, who co-chaired the investigative committee, the department's new director, Laura Thielen, proposed to offer online filing of land
titles and other documents to speed recording and access for the public and businesses, to help clear up a backlog and to better manage fees and employee overtime, the principal complaints against the bureau.
Perhaps unused to quick action, however, key senators are now pulling on the reins, amending enabling legislation drafted by the House and calling for another study.
Meanwhile, Tokuda has backed off on appointing a special master to ensure bureau reforms, suggesting that an advisory council monitor the agency's progress. Then, next year, after another study and another comprehensive plan are completed, lawmakers can revisit the issue and possibly allow technology that 300 other conveyance bureaus across the nation already have adopted to be put into place here.
While the bureau's troubles over the years warrant careful revisions, senators should recognize the need to advance and update its systems as fast as possible and to concede that the agency's once-discordant leaders and employees are making good faith efforts to get back on track.
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