The 7th week of the legislative session was another busy one. There were two big highlights on Thursday, with favorable floor votes on a pair of ACCA bills. The House voted 96-0 for Steve Clouse’s HB 177, which clarifies the distribution of the bid excess when property is sold for unpaid taxes. In the Senate, lawmakers voted 23-0 for Paul Sanford’s SB 236, which revises the process for enforcing subdivision regulations in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of municipal planning commissions.
Wednesday was a busy day too, with 2 ACCA bills advancing out of committees. The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee approved 2 – Jack Williams’ HB 120, which revises the ad valorem exemptions for the elderly and disabled, and Cam Ward’s SB 177, which is the companion to HB 177.
The bill (Steve Clouse’s HB 543) that would divert 5 percent of county revenue from the 2-cent per gallon petroleum inspection fee was approved by the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee. The ACCA testified against the bill, which will reduce county revenue by almost $500,000 and shift the money to the Department of Agriculture and Industries. The vote came on a motion by Greg Wren, seconded by Lynn Greer, and the committee put the bill out on a voice vote. Also present were: Ken Johnson, Thomas, Charles Newton, Laird, McCutcheon, Long, Hall, Millican, Gaston and Barton.
The legislative session has reached the half-way point, and legislators should be back home in their districts until April 3. County officials should pay close attention to this report and use the recess to emphasize the bills discussed here. You can check the status of the Local Bills impacting your county by following these instructions.
What follows is a mid-session status report on ACCA Bills. Later this week you will receive updates on Danger Bills and other legislation of interest to counties.
Excess payments at tax sale – FACT SHEET
The House version of this proposal has moved farther in the legislative process, so energies will be focused on passing Steve Clouse’s HB 177 rather than the Senate version. Clouse’s bill cleared the House on Thursday, but has not yet been officially received and assigned to committee in the Senate. It is expected that it will be assigned to the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, where it could get a vote as soon as the second week of April. This committee unanimously supported the Senate version of this proposal, which is sponsored by Cam Ward.
Urge the committee to again support this proposal when Sen. Ward presents HB 177.
Purchase price of property – FACT SHEET
Both the House (HB 219 Mac McCutcheon) and Senate (SB 216 Tammy Irons) versions of this proposal have cleared committee, but there are procedural advantages to moving the Senate version, so that one is taking priority. The bill would require the buyer of property to provide proof of the actual purchase price when recording or transferring title, and it hit opposition Thursday on the Senate floor when some legislators mistakenly thought the bill would increase taxes. ACCA is working to solidify support for the bill and get it back up for a floor vote in the Senate.
Please encourage your Senators to vote “YES” on the bill when it reaches the Senate floor on April 3. The bill does not increase taxes, only ensures that those recording deeds actually report the accurate sales price of real property.
Senators voting “NO” on Thursday were Allen, Brooks, Bussman, Glover, Holley, Holtzclaw, McGill, Pittman, Reed, Sanford, Taylor and Whatley.
Statewide 9-1-1 coordinating board and fee
The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up Mike Millican’s HB 89 when the members return Tuesday, April 3, at 1 p.m. This legislation, 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.
Ask House members to support the committee substitute and amendment, and ask them to make no other changes on the floor.
Exemptions for aged and disabled – FACT SHEET
Jack Williams’ HB 120 has cleared the House and a Senate committee, putting it in position for a floor vote in the Senate, which would it send it to the governor’s desk. The bill would unify the property tax exemptions for people who are over 65 or disabled with household income less than $12,000 a year.
Urge your senator to SUPPORT HB 120, which is being handled in the Senate by Priscilla Dunn.
County protection from new abatements and exemptions
Rod Scott has introduced HB 502, which is designed to ensure that new tax abatements and exemptions passed by the Alabama Legislature would not apply to county revenue without county consent. It is expected to be considered in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee when lawmakers return to Montgomery.
Encourage the committee to approve HB 502, which has gotten a green light from the Alabama Development Office.
House Economic Development and Tourism Committee: Mask, chair; Hammon, vice chair; Scott, ranking minority member; Baker, Boman, Brown, Collins, Forte, Harper, Joe Hubbard, Ron Johnson, Merrill, Patterson, Roberts, Bracy
Subdivision regulations – FACT SHEET
Both the House version (HB 74 Steve McMillan) and Senate version (SB 236 Paul Sanford) of this proposal are still moving. The bills would clear up which subdivision regulations (city or county) apply in unincorporated areas that fall within the jurisdiction of a municipal planning commission. The next expected action on this issue will be consideration of HB 74 in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, likely on April 3.
Encourage the committee to SUPPORT HB 74.
Alabama Uniform Severance Tax Act
Negotiations continue between ACCA and industry groups on this proposal on the severance tax charged on sand and gravel. ACCA’s starting point was to improve enforcement of this existing tax by authorizing the Alabama Department of Revenue to provide counties with information on payers of this tax. Versions of the bill are moving in both the House (HB 364 Elwyn Thomas) and Senate (SB 322 Gerald Allen).
Ask members of the House Rules Committee to select the HB 364 for the chamber’s working agenda.
In the Senate, the SB 322 is pending in the Governmental Affairs Committee. Urge the committee to SUPPORT the bill.
Election Expense Reimbursement Committee – FACT SHEET
This proposal was introduced in the House and Senate, but the House version has advanced the most, so ACCA will be focusing its energies on HB 319 by Randy Wood. The bill would correct technical problems with Act 2011-147 to ensure that counties are properly reimbursed for all reasonable election expenses. The next step will be consideration in the Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committee – which could come as soon as next week.
Encourage the committee to support HB 319, handled in the Senate by Trip Pittman.
Local constitutional amendments – FACT SHEET
Linda Coleman’s SB 372 proposes a constitutional amendment that would make it harder to force a statewide vote on local constitutional amendments. After lengthy discussion, the bill was carried over last week in the Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committee. ACCA hopes it will be reconsidered soon.
Urge the committee to SUPPORT SB 372, which would strengthen the local voice on purely local issues while still providing for statewide votes on hot-button proposals.