This Week in the Alabama Legislature…March 18, 2011

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Though lawmakers have been on Spring Break this week, we expect next week to be hectic. The leadership’s priority appears to be immigration reform, which we expect to be the first item up in the House on Tuesday. HB 56 by Rep. Hammon has serious problems that need to be corrected. Call your House members and tell them this bill as written is unworkable. A few of the concerns for counties are:

• The bill would allow citizens to sue officials or agencies, including law enforcement, if a
citizen felt that the official or agency was not enforcing the law aggressively enough.

• The bill appears to require holding persons in county jails while their legal status is
determined and keeping those unlawfully in the country in jail until they can be turned
over to federal authorities.

• While the Legislative Fiscal Office has been unable to determine the cost of this bill, it
is clear that passage of this bill will create significant financial and administrative burdens for counties.

In other business, the Association is working to get the Jailer Liability Protection bill (SB 90 by Sen. Taylor) up for a vote in the Senate as early as this week. Counties should contact members of the Senate Rules Committee to ask that they support giving this bill priority treatment on the Senate’s working agenda. The members of the Rules Committee are:

Beason, Chairperson; Holley, Vice Chairperson; Bedford, Brooks, Dial, Dunn, Figures, Glover, Irons, Orr; Pittman, Sanford, Waggoner.

ACCA BILLS
Subdivision Regulations
The House County and Municipal Government Committee is scheduled to take up the
Association bill on subdivision regulations at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. The bill (HB 162 by Rep. McMillan) would provide that if the county has adopted subdivision regulations for the unincorporated areas of the county, the county will be responsible for enforcing those regulations within the municipal planning commission’s jurisdiction unless there is a written agreement between the county and the municipal planning commission authorizing the municipal planning commission to assume responsibility. Passage of this bill would ensure that subdivision development is properly regulated so that roads and other infrastructure are properly constructed.

The Alabama League of Municipalities has expressed concerns with this legislation, and the Association staff is meeting with staff from the League on Monday to try to address their concerns. It is important that counties contact committee members this weekend to ask for their support of this bill in committee on Tuesday. And it would be very beneficial if some county engineers could plan to attend this meeting to show county support. The committee members and the counties they represent are:

Steve McMillan, Chair – Baldwin
Randy Wood, Vice Chair – Calhoun and St. Clair
Demetrius Newton, Ranking Minority Member – Jefferson
George Bandy – Lee and Russell
Alan Boothe – Dale and Pike
Napoleon Bracy – Mobile
Owen Drake – St. Clair and Jefferson
Allen Farley – Jefferson
Jeremy Oden – Blount, Cullman & Morgan
Patricia Todd – Jefferson
Dan Williams – Limestone

School tax elections
The bill to establish procedures and deadlines for petitioning the county commission to call an election on ad valorem school taxes and to require school boards to pay for special elections (SB 177 by Sen. Dial) is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Finance & Taxation Education Committee at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Opponents to this bill have called for a public hearing. Therefore, it is very important that committee members be contacted and asked to support this bill, and it would be great if some county officials could be there for the hearing to demonstrate county support. Members of the committee are:

Pittman, Chairperson; Dial, Vice Chairperson; Allen, Beason, Bedford, Blackwell, Figures, Orr, Sanders, Smitherman, Waggoner, Whatley, Taylor

Election Expenses
Both the House and Senate versions of the bill to address problems with the reimbursement of elections expenses (HB54 by Rep. Wood and SB139 by Sen. Pittman) are out of committee and ready for action by the full House and Senate. Association staff is working with the
sponsors to get these bills placed on a special order calendar for consideration on the floor. County officials should contact their House and Senate members to ask for their support of this important legislation that will ensure counties are properly reimbursed for election expenses.

OTHER LEGISLATION

Photo ID for Voting
As reported last week, HB 19 by Rep. Rich would require all voters to produce a photo ID at the polling place. As the bill came out of committee, it would allow someone who did not have a photo ID to obtain one from the judge of probate’s office at no cost to the voter. The cost of providing photo IDs for voters could be enormous and should not be the responsibility of local governments. It is very likely that this bill will be considered on the House floor either Tuesday or Thursday of next week.
Therefore, every member of the House should be contacted and asked to oppose this legislation unless amended to provide that the state will pay all costs associated with this new requirement.

Construction property
Currently homes which are under construction are treated as business property unless they are being constructed by the property owner. This legislation (HB 179 by Rep. Jack Williams) would treat such homes – which are built by construction or homebuilding corporations – as though they are an individual’s residence. This change would reduce county revenue at
least $890,000 a year and establish a dangerous precedent for future exemptions for all construction property. The Association and others opposing this legislation have called for
a public hearing, which is on the agenda in the
House Commerce & Small Business Committee for 3 p.m. Wednesday. We urge you to contact committee members and ask them to OPPOSE this dangerous bill.

Greg Canfield, Chair; Jack Williams, Vice Chair; Craig Ford, Ranking Minority Member; Richard Baughn, David Colston, Blaine Galliher, Barry Moore, Kurt Wallace, Pebblin Warren

Financial institutions excise tax
The week before spring break, the
Senate Finance & Taxation – General Fund Committee carried over a bill (SB126 by Sen. Whatley) that would grant banks an exemption from the financial institutions excise tax based on expenditures on research and business expansion. Counties receive 25 percent of the proceeds of this tax and the Association strongly opposes
the abatement of county revenue without the approval of the impacted county commission.
Please contact committee members and ask them to OPPOSE this bill that would reduce already scarce county funding.

Orr, Chairperson; Beasley, Bedford, Brewbaker, Dunn, Holtzclaw, Pittman, Sanford, Singleton, Ward, Waggoner, Williams

Agricultural tourist attractions
The House Agriculture & Forestry Committee gathers at 3 p.m. Wednesday to consider Rep. Elwyn Thomas’ HB 188 dealing with agricultural tourist attractions. The bill would require the Department of Agriculture and Industries to define and approve agricultural tourist attractions,
and it would allow for the placement of directional signs to direct traffic to these attractions. The Association wants to amend the bill so that county engineers would approve placement of
any signs to be placed on county roads.
Engineers, please contact committee members and ask them to support the bill only if the Association amendment is adopted.

Chad Fincher, Chair; Steve Hurst, Vice Chair; Richard Lindsey, Ranking Minority Member;
Donnie Chesteen, Randy Davis, Joe Faust, Dexter Grimsley, Paul Lee, A.J. McCampbell


The real-time status of all ACCA, Danger and local bills can be found by going to www.acca-online.org and following the steps under Legislative News. Please make copies of this report for all county officials and employees. And remember, ACCA staff frequently update the Association’s web site — www.acca-online.org — with the latest information on the activities in Montgomery.


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