The Legislature’s top priority this week was the general fund budget, which passed the House Tuesday night. One of the bills that lawmakers are using to piece together a budget is Steve Clouse’s HB 543. This Danger Bill reduces county road and bridge revenues by increasing the Department of Agriculture and Industry’s cut of the petroleum inspection fee. ACCA believes it is wrong to prop up state agencies by raiding county funds. As discussed below, the fight against this bill moves to the Senate, and, on the plus side, 35 representatives stood with counties Tuesday and voted “no” despite pressure from the leadership.
On ACCA’s priority bills, the biggest positive development of the week came Thursday when the Senate passed Tammy Irons’ SB 216, which would require proof of property value when property changes hands. Gratitude is expressed to Sen. Irons for her tenacity to overcome obstacles and to Sens. Orr and Taylor for their critical support.
Legislators have completed 19 of their 30 legislative days. When lawmakers return to the State House on Tuesday, the House convenes at 1 p.m., and the Senate convenes at 9 a.m.
The next 2 bills are ACCA proposals that are pending with legislative committees next week. Check the committee lists to see whom to contact.
Mike Millican’s HB 89 is up for a vote when the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee meets on Tuesday. This ACCA bill, which is the result of two years of negotiation, will establish a statewide 9-1-1 service charge intended to adequately fund the state’s 9-1-1 districts and alter the makeup and duties of the statewide 9-1-1 coordinating board. (Get the FACT SHEET)
This bill – a top priority this year — is more than halfway through the legislative process, and it is critical that county leaders push on through to the finish line. Every committee member needs to hear from every one of their counties how important it is to SUPPORT HB 89.
Election expense reimbursement
Randy Wood’s HB 319 is expected to be the agenda when the Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committee meets Tuesday. (Get the FACT SHEET) The bill would clear up constitutional concerns about a 2011 law amending the list of reimbursable election expenses, and this committee previously gave a favorable report to the Senate version of this proposal.
Urge the committee to SUPPORT HB 319.
Purchase price of property
The Senate approved Tammy Irons’ SB 216, which would improve enforcement of existing deed recording taxes by requiring buyers to report the actual value of their property. (Get the FACT SHEET) The bill now advances to the House.
Pair passes committee
The bill on excess funds after tax sales (HB 177 Steve Clouse) and the subdivision regulations proposal (SB 236 Paul Sanford) cleared committees this week. This means that these bills are now in position for final passage.
Ready for the Senate floor
The following 4 ACCA bills are in position for votes on the Senate floor, so all senators should be briefed on these proposals that are important to county government:
Ask your senators to SUPPORT these bills.
Ready for the House floor
These next two bills are ready for floor votes in the House, so every House member should be asked to support these proposals.
Encourage your House members to SUPPORT these bills.
Just introduced this week, Rod Scott’s HB 599 is an extremely dangerous bill that would expand industrial recruitment incentives to apply to tourist attractions. Passage of this bill would cost precious county revenues, and it could open the door to still further expansion of incentives and abatements. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Ways and Means Education Fund Committee on Wednesday. (Read Sonny’s memo for talking points)
Encourage the committee to OPPOSE HB 599.
County payment for audits
Also introduced this week was another attempt to balance state budgets on the backs of counties. Arthur Orr’s SB 489 would require counties and other governmental entities to pay the cost of routine audits by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. These unpredictable additional costs could cripple county budgets. ACCA has alerted the bill’s sponsor to these concerns but no resolution has been reached. The bill is expected to be on the agenda when Orr’s committee, the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, meets Wednesday, and ACCA has asked for a public hearing to inform committee members of county concerns.
Ask the committee to OPPOSE SB 489.
Road and bridge funding
Also expected to be taken up in the Senate General Fund budget committee next week is the legislation (discussed above) that would reduce county road and bridge revenue by shifting proceeds of the two-cent statewide inspection fee (HB 543 Steve Clouse). While counties struggle to scrape together adequate matching funds for the new ATRIP program, any reduction in revenue will negatively impact the condition of roads and bridges. The bill would also reduce funding to the Alabama Department of Transportation. (Read Sonny’s memo for additional talking points.)
Urge the committee to OPPOSE HB 543.
30-day payment of contracts
ACCA’s issues with Bill Roberts’ HB 71 have been resolved with a substitute negotiated Wednesday afternoon, and the Association no longer opposes the bill as long as the substitute is adopted. It is anticipated that this bill will be considered early on Tuesday afternoon.
Key provisions in the substitute make the following changes:
These changes would not have been possible without substantial support from county leaders, who made it widely known in the State House that counties needed changes to this bill. Gratitude is expressed to Rep. Roberts for working with ACCA on this legislation.
Thank your legislators for supporting counties and be sure they know that counties NO LONGER OPPOSE HB 71 as long as the substitute is adopted.
Mark Tuggle’s HB 538 is scheduled for a vote on the House floor Tuesday afternoon. Successful negotiations between ACCA and the Alabama Forestry Association resulted in a substitute version of the bill (linked above). The agreed-to version preserves county authority to protect the county roads and the traveling public, and it also creates a uniform statewide notification system for the logging industry.
The House and Senate this week resolved their differences over a bill to remove storm shelters from regulation by manufactured housing officials (SB 136 Paul Bussman), and the conference committee preserved a House amendment that gave the state Emergency Management Agency oversight over storm shelters. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature. ACCA thanks the conference committee – Sens. Bussman, Coleman and Orr; Reps. Buttram, Joe Hubbard and Wood – for preserving EMA’s input.
The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee is planning to vote Tuesday morning on Micky Hammon’s HB 658, the major rewrite of the 2011 immigration law. ACCA is working with the sponsor on technical amendments and will keep you posted on progress.