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The Alabama Legislature has completed the first week of the 2012 Regular Session. The session got off to an unusually hectic start since lawmakers were in session three days this week, meaning that by Thursday both chambers were voting on bills. As expected, the Republican leadership’s economic development bills took priority. ACCA bills on the following topics were introduced: excess payments at tax sales, purchase price of property, exemptions for aged and disabled, 9-1-1 and subdivision regulations. Several of these are already scheduled for committee consideration next week.
All told, lawmakers introduced 587 bills in the first week. The ACCA staff reviews new legislation promptly and frequently adds county-relevant bills to the Alison lists and our website’s bill tracking section, located at www.alabamacounties.org/legislation/bill-tracking/. It would be a good idea to check for updates daily.
In just three days, ACCA staff has already had to sound the alarm to members twice. So keep an eye on your email, and make sure you have cell phone numbers for your legislators programmed into your phone.
The Legislature’s economic development focus is expected to continue into the second week, which could be another three-day week. Also, it is anticipated that most committees will meet next week, so check for any action needed there in Monday’s Committee Update. The House returns Tuesday at 10 a.m., and the Senate returns Tuesday at 2 p.m.
Purchase price of property
This legislation (SB 216 Irons, HB 219 McCutcheon) would require the purchaser to provide proof of the actual purchase price when recording or transferring title to property. If the actual purchase price is not provided and cannot be determined, the bill would allow the taxing official to use the assessed value of the property for calculating fees and taxes. This process will better ensure that proper mortgage and deed recording fees and taxes are paid.
The Senate version is scheduled for consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Please contact committee members and urge them to support this bill.
The House version is assigned to the House Commerce and Small Business Committee, which is listed below.
Exemptions for aged and disabled
Under current law, disabled persons and those persons over the age of 65 are entitled to special property tax exemptions if their income is below certain levels. However, the exemptions are not identical and are not applied in the same manner. This legislation (HB 120 Jack Williams) would apply the exemption in a uniform manner to eligible persons with taxable income below $12,000 who provide proper proof of income. While this legislation will increase the exemption income level from $7,500 to $12,000 in some circumstances, applying the exemption in a uniform manner will eliminate current inequities which result in some paying higher taxes and should make passage of this legislation revenue-neutral.
This bill was received well in committee, but action was delayed a week for technical changes. It is expected that the committee will vote on it at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Please contact committee members and urge them to support this legislation.
House County and Municipal Government Committee: McMillan, chair; Wood, vice chair; Demetrius Newton, ranking minority member, Bandy, Boothe, Bracy, Drake, Grimsley, Oden, Sessions, Todd, Wallace, Dan Williams.
Subdivision regulations within municipal planning jurisdiction
This legislation (HB 74 McMillan, SB 236 Sanford) amends current law on subdivision regulations within the territorial jurisdiction of a municipal planning commission. It provides that counties with subdivision regulations will be responsible for enforcing those regulations within the municipal planning commission’s jurisdiction unless there is a written agreement between the county and municipal planning commission authorizing the municipal planning commission to assume responsibility or the municipal planning commission meets certain statutorily established criteria for regulating and enforcing subdivisions in unincorporated areas. This bill is identical to last year’s version that was negotiated with representatives for municipalities.
The House version of this bill was discussed in committee this week, but it was carried over because the League of Municipalities had questions. Please tell committee members not to accept anything but technical amendments.
See House County and Municipal Government Committee listing above.
Excess payments at tax sale
SB 177 by Ward is designed to correct procedural problems with current law which have led to litigation. It would clearly defining who is entitled to any excess paid at the time of a tax sale and the circumstances under which such payments can be made by the county. Negotiations are currently taking place to address concerns of mortgage holders, but it is hoped this bill will receive committee action soon.
Statewide 9-1-1 coordinating board and statewide service charge
This legislation (HB89 Millican), which is the result of two years of negotiation with interested parties, will establish a statewide 9-1-1 service charge intended to adequately fund the state’s 9-1-1 districts pursuant to a formula designed to meet current and future funding needs. The legislation also alters the makeup and duties of the statewide 9-1-1 coordinating board, with a majority of the board’s members appointed by emergency communication districts. This legislation complies with current ACCA policy statements regarding proposed legislation changing current 9-1-1 law. ACCA is working to get this proposal placed on a committee agenda as soon as possible.
It is assigned to the House Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee: Sanderford, chair; Thomas, vice chair; Jackson, ranking minority member; Buttram, Farley, Greeson, Joe Hubbard, McCampbell, Melton, Mitchell, Roberts, Sessions, Jack Williams.
30-day payment of contractors
A public hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday on a bill (HB 71 Roberts) to require all levels of government to pay contractors within 30 days of completing work. The bill would also charge interest on late payments and make it impossible for government and contractors to agree to a later payment. Please contact members of the House Commerce and Small Business Committee and ask them to support an amendment to make sure these requirements do not apply to counties.
Local sales tax collection
Bills to study local collection of sales taxes were introduced in both chambers this week (HB 153 Jack Williams, SB 291 Reed). Both versions could be considered in committee as early as this week. County government, local education and other local programs have benefited greatly from the additional revenue inherent in the local collection and enforcement of taxes. Businesses continue to point to what they call “excessive red tape” in paying local taxes – despite several reform measures in recent years. The ACCA strongly supports the local collection of taxes. County officials are encouraged to contact their legislators in opposition to this proposal.
The House version is assigned to the House Commerce and Small Business Committee, which is listed above.
Liability protection for road builders
The bill requiring counties to assume the liability for roads constructed by private contractors (SB 139 Scofield) was carried over by a Senate committee this week. Concerns were raised by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Sen. Bill Holtzclaw after several contacts were made by county officials. The bill will likely undergo significant revisions before being considered by the committee later in the session.
Financial institutions excise tax
One of the first items on the House work agenda Tuesday will be a bill (HB 152 Bridges) that includes an amendment to abate county revenue from the financial institutions excise tax. Please contact your House members and ask that they support a revised amendment to the bill that would NOT reduce the county revenue from this tax source.
HB 274 by Greer would prohibit counties or other governmental entities from providing any commercial solid waste collection or recycling services or operating a solid waste disposal or recycling facility if there are private providers of these services in the area. Existing operations would be required to cease operation within six months of the act becoming law. This bill would negatively affect local governments and their citizens all across the state by eliminating existing and proposed programs designed to provide the best solid waste and recycling collection services possible for Alabama citizens. This bill has been assigned to the House Commerce and Small Business Committee and the ACCA has requested a public hearing. Please contact committee members and ask them to oppose the measure.
It is assigned to the House Commerce and Small Business Committee, which is listed above.
Numerous bills have been introduced to amend various aspects of the immigration law. It has been reported that legislative leaders are looking at what needs to be done and plan to introduce their proposal in a couple weeks. The leadership supports only technical changes to the law. ACCA is actively monitoring this issue and will report further when the situation becomes more clear.