COVID-19 Liability // Enacted: Act 2021-4

The worldwide health crisis resulting from the coronavirus has presented a host of obstacles to county governments in their responsibilities in service to the public. Due to the necessity of everyday county services, county governments have continued to operate throughout the pandemic while prioritizing the adaptation and innovation of operating procedures to comply with state and federal safety orders and guidelines and best protect citizens.

Considering the obligations on county governments during this unprecedented time, the Association supports legislation to provide civil immunity for counties from damages claimed by individuals alleging contraction of or exposure to the coronavirus through government services.

Tax Sale Requirements // Enacted: Act 2021-175

This year, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of a plaintiff who argued that a previous tax sale of his property should be voided due to the location in which the tax sale occurred. Current Alabama law requires that a tax sale take place “in front of the door of the courthouse” and provides no allowances for alternative locations in light of concerns related to access, weather, safety, etc.

The Association supports legislation that will update the existing and antiquated requirements on the tax sales process and protect the validity of sales performed at the county level moving forward.

Retirement Systems of Alabama Governance // Enacted: Act 2021-390

The current guidelines for making appointments to the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) Board of Control do not adequately reflect the employing agencies of the RSA’s participating members. In addition to four ex-officio trustees, the current appointment process also calls for the following:

  • Three members of the system to be appointed by the Governor;
  • Six members of the Employees’ Retirement System to be elected by its membership:
    • One Retired State Position
    • One Retired Local Position
    • Two Active State Positions
    • Two Active Local Positions

The Association proposes to amend the statute governing the appointment process to add one county elected board position and one additional at-large local position to the RSA Board of Control. This change to the current composition of the board would more closely reflect the employing agencies of the participating members of the system.

Inmate Reform // Enacted: 2021-249

The 2015 Alabama Prison Reform Act, Act No. 2015-185, implemented sweeping changes to the Alabama Criminal Justice System, including the creation of the Class D felony, and created new sanctions for parole and probation violations. Since the implementation of the Prison Reform Act, Alabama counties have experienced an increase of more than 250 percent of Alabama Department of Corrections inmates diverted into county jails and have experienced an increase in spending on jail operations and law enforcement of more than $60 million.

The Association proposes the enactment of a number of workable solutions between counties and the Alabama Department of Corrections, which include altering the incarceration periods for probation and parole violators and altering the Department’s responsibilities related to costs of housing and providing medical care for these violators.

Public Shelters and Safer Places // Enacted: Act 2021-165

Alabama has experienced a high volume of natural disasters over the past decade. It is imperative that state and local leaders take an active role to ensure the safety of the citizens of Alabama. It is vital that citizens have access to buildings and shelters in times of impending disasters and that public and private entities willing to provide access to these facilities be able to do so.

The Association proposes to amend current law to provide specific liability protection for those entities opening buildings or shelters to the public in times of impending disaster events.

County Boards of Equalization // Enacted: Act 2021-173

For several years, local entities have struggled to make recommendations to the Alabama Department of Revenue for the appointment of individuals to serve on the County Boards of Equalization.

The Association supports legislation to update the process for appointing and compensating members of the County Boards of Equalization to ensure the efficient operation of the tax appeal process by attracting qualified persons to serve in this important role.

Road and Bridge Project Advertising // Enacted: Act 2021-146

The Alabama Legislature recently established a streamlined process for advertising bids related to certain local road and bridge projects. The new process prioritizes efficiency, transparency and public access but conflicts with the decades-old advertising requirements for other projects that fall under the Public Works Law.

The Association supports legislation to resolve advertising conflicts in the Public Works Law and allow advertising requirements for any local road or bridge project to be met through the Legislature’s more efficient and transparent process.