Legislation |

Alabama Counties Support…

Updating the state’s online sales tax collection process to legally align with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision

With its 2018 decision on Wayfair v. South Dakota, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for states to require tax collection from any online seller that “avails itself of the substantial privilege” of doing business in that state. The Wayfair decision offers several factors for states to consider to ensure their collection methods for online sellers are nondiscriminatory and do not place an undue burden on interstate commerce. While the collection methodology endorsed by the Supreme Court models well with Alabama’s Simplified Sellers Use Tax (SSUT) program, there are still a number of statutory issues that must be considered to guarantee compliance with the Wayfair decision.

Alabama Counties, the Alabama Department of Revenue and other SSUT stakeholders will continue their partnership during the 2019 session to further expand the SSUT program’s ability to collect taxes from online sellers.

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Making county government more attractive to quality employees by offering better retirement benefits | Signed into law as Act 2019-132

Alabama Counties are again proposing legislation giving local entities participating in the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) the option to shift existing Tier II employees to the more attractive benefits package afforded to local employees hired prior to 2013. This change in the law would not impact state revenue and would actually reduce costs for many counties, cities and local entities. If enacted into law, this vital piece of legislation would allow local entities to remain competitive in the job market and retain and attract talented employees.

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Closing a statutory loophole in sheriffs’ feeding of county inmates | Signed into law as Act 2019-133

A long-standing ambiguity in state law has allowed county sheriffs to pocket certain surplus monies allocated to their offices for the feeding of county inmates. The issue came to a head in early 2018, leading Governor Kay Ivey to issue a memorandum requiring sheriffs to deposit all monies designated for “food services” into the county general fund or some other official account instead of accepting those funds in a personal capacity. Even with the sweeping impact of the Governor’s memo, many state and local leaders want to explore a permanent solution to this issue. Alabama Counties support legislation to close this statutory loophole by instituting clear requirements and accountability measures for the handling of the sheriffs’ feeding funds.

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Reinstating “waiver valuations” to save counties time & money on right-of-way appraisals

ALDOT and county highway departments have traditionally utilized “waiver valuations” to acquire rights-of-way from private landowners. This practice has permitted state and local governments to reach a mutual agreement with private landowners about the purchase price for right-of-way acquisitions. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently advised that Alabama state law does not recognize the federal concept of waiver valuation. As a result, county road departments were directed to stop using this established practice, which has saved counties time and money over the years. Alabama Counties propose to amend the current statutory provisions governing right-of- way appraisals to be in compliance with Federal Code in order to allow the reinstatement of waiver valuations.

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Expanding the County Debt Set-Off Program | Signed into law as Act 2019-184

The County Debt Set-Off Program was created in 2014 to allow county entities to collect debts owed to the county by intercepting a portion of a debtor’s state income tax refund. Alabama Counties propose to amend the current statute to ensure that entities, including county health care authorities, be allowed to participate even if the entity contracts with an outside entity to provide financial or administrative management.

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Utilizing the next generation of 9-1-1 technology to better protect residents | Signed into law as Act 2019-70

The Alabama Next Generation Emergency Network (ANGEN) is a new communication technology system designed to streamline the routing process for 9-1-1 calls, reduce costs for 9-1-1 districts, and improve accuracy and redundancy issues in the current system. The administration of ANGEN has been handled by the Alabama State 9-1-1 Board since 2013, but there is currently no statutory authority for the Board to administer the program. Alabama Counties propose legislation that would provide the Board with clear statutory authority to administer ANGEN and make a number of technical amendments to the general powers of the Board.