The week got off to a good start Tuesday afternoon, when the House gave overwhelming approval to Jack Williams’ HB 120, relating to property tax exemptions for the aged and disabled. Then on Wednesday, House committees approved ACCA bills to stabilize 9-1-1 funding throughout the state and to ensure proper payment of deed recording taxes. In addition, negotiations wrapped up on ACCA’s severance tax bill, and consensus was reached with the road builders on their civil liability bill. The biggest negative of the week came when a House committee advanced a bill to require payment on public works contracts every 30 days without changing it to make the bill workable for counties.
The speedy pace should continue next week, with a number of ACCA bills scheduled for committee votes and others ready to go to the floor. The session is nearly a third of the way over. On Tuesday, the House returns at 1 p.m., and the Senate comes in at 2 p.m.
This week a number of ACCA bills were the subject of negotiation that should lead to positive movement of Association-sponsored legislation.
Excess bid in tax sales
Bills that overhaul the distribution of the excess bid in tax sales (SB 177 Cam Ward, HB 177 Steve Clouse) are expected to get committee votes next week after ACCA reached agreement with the organizations representing mortgage holders in the state. The agreed-upon proposal (not yet available online) makes it clear that the excess is only to be paid to a person or entity that has previously redeemed the property after a tax sale.
Encourage the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee to support the substitute version of SB 177 by Cam Ward.
Ask the House Financial Services Committee to support the substitute version of HB 177 by Steve Clouse.
Purchase price of property
The long-debated legislation on establishing the actual purchase price of property (HB 219 Mac McCutcheon) was approved in a House committee this week with several amendments after procedures were worked out with real estate agents, bankers and others that should remove significant objections to this measure. If signed into law, the bill should produce additional revenue for counties and the state as persons recording deeds throughout the state will be required to provide the actual purchase price of the property.
Urge the House Rules Committee to pick HB 219 for the chamber’s working agenda.
The Senate version of this proposal (SB 216 Tammy Irons) is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Ask the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the substitute version of SB 216.
Severance tax on sand, gravel and limestone
A proposal (HB 364 Elwyn Thomas, SB 322 Gerald Allen) on the state’s severed materials tax, which provides local funding for road and bridge activities, is also ready for committee action. ACCA has secured agreements on language (not yet available online) that should close loopholes that have allowed some materials to go untaxed while also ensuring that counties receive details from the state Department of Revenue aimed at improving enforcement of the tax.
Encourage the House County and Municipal Government Committee to approve revisions to HB 364.
House County and Municipal Government: McMillan, chair; Wood, vice chair; Demetrius Newton, ranking minority member, Bandy, Boothe, Bracy, Sessions, Oden, Todd, Dan Williams, Wallace, Grimsley, Drake.
9-1-1 floor vote expected soon
A House committee this week overwhelmingly approved the comprehensive legislation (Mike Millican’s HB 89 in substitute version with amendment) revising the state’s funding mechanism for local 9-1-1 programs, setting up a floor vote as soon as Thursday. Special appreciation is expressed to Howard Sanderford, chairman of the Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee; for his strong support of this measure and his leadership in moving the bill one step closer to passage.
Ask all House members to support the committee substitute and committee amendment to HB 89, to oppose all floor amendments and to pass the bill as quickly as possible.
Property tax exemptions for aged and disabled
The House voted 100-0 in favor of Jack Williams’ HB 120, which will curtail abuses of the existing property tax exemptions for the disabled and those over 65. FACT SHEET It is expected to go before a Senate committee soon.
Ask the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee to give HB 120 a favorable report.
30-day payment of contractors
A House committee this week approved Bill Roberts’ HB 71, which will require all public entities to pay contractors every 30 days, despite ongoing negotiations aimed at removing ACCA’s objections to the legislation. The Association remains strongly opposed because this legislation will negatively impact the ability of counties to supervise construction projects. In addition to requiring payments every 30 days, the bill also provides that public entities must have cash on hand for the full cost of any construction project and present “evidence” to the contractor that the entity has the funds on hand. The bill can reach the floor if approved by the House Rules Committee.
Please ask the House Rules Committee members to oppose HB 71 and do all they can to ensure that the measure does not reach the floor for a vote.
Liability for Road Construction
This week ACCA worked with representatives of the Alabama Road Builders to make substantial changes to Clay Scofield’s SB 139, which would have shifted liability from private road contractors to counties and their employees and officials. The compromise version of the bill, drafted substantially by the Association, provides additional protection for road builders without shifting responsibility to counties. Appreciation is expressed to those county officials and engineers who made contacts to help ensure the needed changes in this legislation.
Tax exemption for fire and rescue
Richard Laird’s HB 185 proposes to exempt several associations that represent or support volunteer fire and rescue groups from all county sales and use taxes as well as non-education county property taxes. This exemption is not for purchases made by the volunteer fire or rescue groups, but for those made by these support groups. This legislation is extremely bad public policy which negatively impacts county revenue. This bill is scheduled for a House floor vote late in the day Tuesday.
Ask all House members to oppose this legislation and make sure they understand this exemption is NOT for the volunteer fire departments or rescue squads.
Tax break for cultural districts
Also on the House’s work agenda for Tuesday is Terri Collins’ HB 142, which creates a sales tax exemption for original works of art that are created and sold within city-created cultural districts. The sponsor has agreed to an amendment (not yet available online) that gives counties consent over the exemption of county taxes.
Urge House members to support the floor amendment to HB 142 which protects precious county revenue and to oppose this legislation if the bill is not amended.