Legislation |

The 2019 Legislative Priorities were presented to the ACCA Board of Directors for approval at its meeting on Wednesday, December 5, 2018.

The Board of Directors has directed the ACCA Staff to actively pursue passage of legislation of any or all of the strategic goals listed below.

 

Road and Bridge Funding

 

Throughout the previous quadrennium, county leaders tirelessly advocated for the Legislature to enact a new revenue measure for state and local infrastructure programs. The costs associated with the construction, maintenance, and repair of county roads and bridges continues to far exceed the resources available to county governments. The Association proposes to continue its work with the coalition of business leaders, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), and other interest groups in pursuing legislation to provide adequate funding for state and local road and bridge projects by utilizing the current gas tax formula.

 

 

Simplified Sellers Use Tax (SSUT) Updates

 

With its 2018 decision on Wayfair v. South Dakota, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for states to require tax collection from any online seller that “avails itself of the substantial privilege” of doing business in that state. The Wayfair decision offers several factors for states to consider to ensure their collection methods for online sellers are nondiscriminatory and do not place an undue burden on interstate commerce. While the collection methodology endorsed by the Supreme Court models well with Alabama’s SSUT program, there are still a number of statutory issues that must be considered to guarantee compliance with the Wayfair decision. The Association, the Alabama Department of Revenue and other SSUT stakeholders will continue their partnership during the 2019 session to further expand the SSUT program’s ability to collect taxes from online sellers.

 

 

Local Retirement Benefits

 

The Association is again proposing legislation that would give local entities participating in the Employment Retirement System (ERS) the option to shift existing Tier II employees to the more attractive benefits package afforded to local employees hired prior to 2013. This change in the law would not impact state revenue and would actually reduce costs for many counties, cities and local entities. If enacted into law, this vital piece of legislation will allow local entities to remain competitive in the job market and retain and attract talented employees.

 

 

Sheriffs’ Feeding Funds

 

A long-standing ambiguity in state law has allowed county sheriffs to pocket certain surplus monies allocated to their offices for the feeding of county inmates. The issue came to a head in early 2018, leading Governor Kay Ivey to issue a memorandum requiring sheriffs to deposit all monies designated for “food services” into the county general fund or some other official account, instead of accepting those funds in a personal capacity. Even with the sweeping impact of the Governor’s memo, many state and local leaders want to explore a permanent solution to this issue. The Association supports legislation to close this statutory loophole by instituting clear requirements and accountability measures for the handling of the sheriffs’ feeding funds.

 

Right-of-Way Appraisals

 

ALDOT and county highway departments have traditionally utilized “waiver valuations” to acquire rights-of- way from private landowners. This practice has permitted state and local governments to reach a mutual agreement with private landowners about the purchase price for right-of-way acquisitions. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently advised that Alabama state law does not recognize the federal concept of waiver valuation. As a result, county road departments were directed to stop using this established practice, which has saved counties time and money over the years. The Association proposes to amend the current statutory provisions governing right-of-way appraisals to be in compliance with Federal Code in order to allow the reinstatement of “waiver valuations”.

 

 

Debt Set-Off Program Amendments

 

The Association’s County Debt Set-Off Program was created in 2014 to allow county entities to collect debts owed to the county by intercepting a portion of a debtor’s state income tax refund. Participation in the program is currently limited to entities established by a county or municipality where the locality appoints the majority of the governing board. As a result, many entities established by local governments are precluded from participating in the program because they do not meet the appointment criteria. The Association proposes to amend the current statute to allow any public entity established by a local government to participate in the debt recovery program as well as any entity whose governing board includes at least one local government appointment.