The Legislature’s long, and often challenging, 3-day work week ended late on Thursday evening, but not before a total of four ACCA bills were passed and sent to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature. Legislation reforming the funding for 911, updating the statewide tax on severed materials, resolving conflicts with subdivisions near city limits and clarifying the granting of ad valorem tax exemptions was approved this week.
As county officials arrived for the important County Day @ the Legislature events, the ACCA staff also became aware of efforts to reduce county revenue from the Alabama Trust Fund. As a result of work by county officials present in Montgomery and calling from throughout the state, the bill (SB 147) is still on hold.
With only 4 work days remaining in the session, county officials are encouraged to continue to respond to Association requests and to make contacts on the many important bills that are pending in the last hours of the session. The House and Senate will return to work on Tuesday for another three-day week that will likely produce at least 2 late-night work sessions.
In the coming days, keep a watchful eye on your email and keep your cell phone handy so you can respond quickly to ACCA Action Alerts. As fast as the process is moving, ACCA may have little advance notice when help is needed. And, as County Day proved yet again, there is nothing so powerful as direct communication between county leaders and their legislators. MANY THANKS to everyone who turned out and made the event a success!
Four on the governor’s desk
Everyone’s hard work throughout the session yielded fruit this week, with four ACCA bills going to the governor for his signature:
Proper payment of deed taxes
ACCA’s bill (SB 216 Tammy Irons) (Get the FACT SHEET) to ensure proper payment of deed taxes is expected to be considered on the floor in the House next week. The bill is NOT a tax increase, but it would bring about uniform enforcement of existing taxes statewide. During brief debate on the House floor Thursday, questions about this bill’s impact arose. Be sure that your House members understand that the law ALREADY REQUIRES buyers to report the value of property when it changes hands, and this bill merely creates a process to make sure that happens.
Excess after tax sales
It is expected that this week the Senate will take up Steve Clouse’s HB 177, which clarifies the distribution of the bid excess when property is sold for unpaid taxes. (Get the FACT SHEET) Ask your senators to SUPPORT this bill that has been agreed to by ACCA and the banking industry.
Election expense reimbursement
The bill making even more changes in the items qualifying for state reimbursement following an election is still awaiting final passage in the Senate. The Association continues to work with Sen. Arthur Orr on amendments that will reduce the immediate impact on the state’s general fund budget. The staff is optimistic that the bill will be considered on the Senate floor this week.
County funding from the Alabama Trust Fund
A dangerous amendment to a positive bill affecting the Alabama Trust Fund (SB 147 Arthur Orr) has not yet been offered, and ACCA is still unsure about what legislative leaders are planning on this issue. As passed by the Senate, the bill would revise the annual payments counties and the state receive from the Alabama Trust Fund without reducing county revenue in any way, and that’s how the bill should stay. Ask your House members to pass SB 147 WITHOUT AMENDMENT.
ACCA is seeking feedback from county revenue officers on a floor substitute to the proposals to create a tax court outside the Department of Revenue and alter the Taxpayers Bill of Rights. This substitute was developed without county input, and could negatively impact county revenues. The House version could also be on the floor of the Senate for final passage as early as Tuesday. Please contact your Senators and ask that they oppose the measure unless any county concerns are addressed.
Bail bonds and court costs
A controversial bill (HB 688 Mike Hill) to raise new revenue for district attorneys, circuit clerks and sheriffs passed the House late Thursday night in a form that ACCA cannot support. The ACCA Board of Directors voted Wednesday to support this legislation only if the new revenue for the sheriff flows through the county general fund and if the other new revenue flows through the state general fund. Urge senators to OPPOSE HB 688 unless it is amended to remove county objections.
Legislation to help Jefferson County move forward out of bankruptcy (SB 567 Jabo Waggoner) cleared the Senate Thursday and is now pending in a House committee. Jefferson County’s financial problems make it harder and more expensive for any county in Alabama to borrow money, so all counties would benefit if this one struggling county could get back on its feet. Ask your House members to SUPPORT SB 567 because Jefferson County leaders need this home rule authority to address their problems.