The week ended on a high note, with the House of Representatives passing two ACCA bills – election expense reimbursement and subdivision regulations. These two proposals now advance to the Senate.
Though some meetings were cancelled so legislators could attend a political event on Wednesday, it was still a positive week in committees. Three ACCA bills won committee approval – excess payments at tax sales, purchase price of property and severance tax enforcement. In addition, another ACCA bill was introduced this week. A proposal to protect county revenue from abatement or exemption without county consent was filed in the House. But work was slowed in the Senate and a logjam looms in the upper chamber.
Many thanks to everyone who called their legislators this week! It makes a huge difference!
With five of the session’s 15 weeks complete, the session is a third of the way over. Lawmakers are expected to take spring break the last week of March. Since Tuesday is an election day, legislators are not meeting that day. When they return Wednesday, the House comes in at 1 p.m., and the Senate comes in at 3 p.m.
House passes two
Two ACCA bills won overwhelming approval in the House Thursday. HB 74 (including House changes) by Steve McMillan clarifies the application of county subdivision regulations within a municipal planning commission’s jurisdiction outside the city limits. (For details, get the revised FACT SHEET.) HB 319 (including House changes) by Randy Wood fixes technical problems with a 2011 law governing election expense reimbursement to counties. (For details, get the FACT SHEET.) Both of these bills move on the Senate for consideration.
Three advance in committees
Three ACCA bills won approval in committees this week, putting them in position for floor votes in one chamber or the other. HB 177 by Steve Clouse clearly defines who is entitled to any excess paid when a property is sold for failure to pay taxes. (For details, get the FACT SHEET.) HB 364 (committee substitute) by Elwyn Thomas is the Alabama Uniform Severance Tax Act. It would improve enforcement of the existing severance tax on sand and gravel by requiring the state Department of Revenue to share information about tax collections with counties.
In the Senate, SB 216 (committee substitute) by Tammy Irons would improve enforcement of deed recording fees by requiring the purchaser to provide proof of the actual purchase price paid. (For details, get the revised FACT SHEET.)
Though the Senate is in the midst of handling sunset bills, which review state agencies, SB 216 is expected to appear on the Senate’s working agenda soon, so ask your senators to support this important proposal.
Protection for county revenue
This week Rod Scott introduced HB 502, which is designed to ensure that future tax abatements and exemptions passed by the Alabama Legislature will not apply to county taxes or to the portion of a state tax distributed to a county unless the county commission passes a resolution consenting to the tax abatement or exemption. The bill, which has gotten the green light from the Alabama Development Office, was referred to the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
Ask the committee to give this bill a favorable report.
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.
Statewide 9-1-1 board, fee
There was no action this week on HB 89’s substitute version by Mike Millican. There are no known problems with the legislation – the House has simply been focused on other priorities. A floor vote is expected soon but no earlier than Thursday.
Tax exemption for fire and rescue support organizations
The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday afternoon on Richard Laird’s HB 185, which 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.
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.
30-day payment of contractors
ACCA is still open to working with supporters of Bill Roberts’ HB 71, which would require all public entities to pay contractors every 30 days. Thus far negotiations have not been fruitful, and ACCA cannot support the bill in its current form. 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. Steep interest would accrue daily on any payments not made within the required 30 days. The bill can reach the floor if approved by the House Rules Committee.
Ask the committee to block HB 71 from consideration on the floor.
Lawmakers and Gov. Bentley unveiled their much-anticipated plan to overhaul the state’s retirement systems this week. The changes are prospective in nature only, meaning that they would only affect new hires. ACCA will continue to monitor this legislation for its impact on county government.
Paul Bussman’s SB 136 cleared a House committee this week, putting it in position for final passage in the lower chamber. The bill would remove regulation of storm shelters by the manufactured housing board.
Online publication of legal notices
A bill to require online publication of legal notices cleared the House this week and is nearing final passage. Cam Ward’s SB 73 would require newspapers that publish legal notices to also put the notice on the newspaper’s own website as well as a statewide website. There would be no additional charge for publishing notices online. ACCA secured an amendment early on to save taxpayer dollars by making sure that counties pay the lowest advertising rate.
Protecting county roads and bridges
ACCA engaged in extensive negotiations with the Alabama Forestry Association on legislation that would require loggers to notify the county when they are going to be hauling trees out on county roads, but no agreement was reached. The forestry association’s allies did not introduce a bill this week, but it is anticipated that the proposal could be filed next week. We expect that the version introduced would restrict the county’s ability to regulate loggers’ activity on county roads.
Liability for road construction
Clay Scofield’s SB 139, the compromise between ACCA and the Alabama Road Builders Association, was approved in the Senate this week. The bill provides additional liability protection for road builders without shifting responsibility to counties.
Land purchase price limited by appraisal