Last Week Summary Of Alabama LegislatureRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Mar 04 2014 12:28 AM
Vacation of Roads
HB 148 by Rep. Ron Johnson/Sen. Gerald Dial (with proposed substitute)
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee is set to vote tomorrow afternoon on this bill to change the process for vacating county roads in certain situations. Intense negotiations have yielded a compromise version of the bill, which will be offered tomorrow. Key provisions of the substitute (See this Fact Sheet for details):
- A county’s failure to vacate a road could only be appealed if all adjoining landowners to an unpaved road have petitioned for vacation and have joined the lawsuit.
- On appeal, the court could only order the road vacated under specific and limited conditions.
- Under current law, the motion to vacate a county road must be made by the commissioner representing the district where the road at issue is located. This would create limited circumstances where a majority of the commission could bring the vacation petition up for a vote without the support of that district’s commissioner.
Ask committee members to only support this bill if the substitute (linked above) is adopted to address county concerns. (This committee is also expected to vote on an ACCA bill about County Administrative Powers, discussed below.) Committee members: Holley, chairperson; Bedford, vice chairperson; Beason, Brewbaker, Coleman, Dunn, Figures,Orr, Pittman, Sanford, Taylor, Marsh
HB 474 by Rep. Steve McMillan
This is the House version of a proposal to allow developers to obtain pre-sale agreements from prospective buyers prior to the county’s approval of a subdivision development plan. Additionally, this bill would remove a provision requiring approval of subdivision plats prior to the lease of lots within the development. ACCA is working to amend this bill to require notice and approval of the county before reaching pre-sale agreements, but no agreement has been reached and the bill is set for a vote in the House County and Municipal Government Committee Wednesday afternoon. Urge committee members to oppose this bill until county objections are removed. Chair Steve McMillan,Vice Chair Randy Wood, Ranking Minority Member George Bandy, Alan Boothe, Napoleon Bracy, Adline Clarke, Dickie Drake, Dexter Grimsley, Dimitri Polizos, David Sessions, Randall Shedd, Patricia Todd, Dan Williams.
County Administrative Powers
SB 367 by Sen. Del Marsh
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee is likely to vote tomorrow afternoon on this proposed constitutional amendment to grant counties certain administrative powers to develop programs and policy related to the operation of county government. A substitute version, described in this Fact Sheet, would make a few changes in response to opposition:
- Make it clear that these powers would not supersede general or local laws;
- Clarify that the county commission could not use these powers to change the salary or duties of other elected officials;
- Set up a process for citizen input into any proposed programs, policies, or procedures by providing notice of and opportunity to be heard at a county commission meeting where such matters are to be considered.
In no way would the bill grant counties the power to tax or affect citizens’ rights related to private property. Encourage committee members to support this measure which, if ratified by the people, would allow the county commission to implement administrative programs and policies related to operation of county government without the need for local legislation. Committee members should also be advised that this proposed amendment does not grant counties the authority to sidestep existing or future state or local law. (This committee is also likely to vote on a negotiated compromise to a Danger Bill regarding vacation of roads.) Committee members: Holley, chairperson; Bedford, vice chairperson; Beason, Brewbaker, Coleman, Dunn, Figures, Orr, Pittman, Sanford, Taylor, Marsh
Changes in Local Law Process
SB 258 by Sen. Cam Ward
SB 258, part of the package of Alabama Constitutional Revision Commission recommendations affecting county government, will once again be considered by the Senate, Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics, and Elections Committee on Wednesday. This bill would change the legislative process including the procedures for local legislation. The proposal provides for a shorter advertising period and allows local legislation to be amended during the legislative process, thus allowing counties and legislators a meaningful opportunity to debate and negotiate local bills after introduction. If approved in a statewide vote, these changes would significantly improve the local legislation process, and counties should urge their legislators to support this important measure. However, the language supported by counties is included in a comprehensive bill which may meet with some opposition from other groups. Ask committee members to support SB 258 because of the provisions aimed at significantly improving the procedure for passing local bills.Committee members: Taylor, chairperson; Beasley, Brewbaker, Bussman, Irons, McGill, Pittman, Orr
SB 354 by Sen. Scott Beason
The Senate Judiciary Committee will likely vote Wednesday on a bill revising Alabama’s recently rewritten gun laws. The Association has opposed this bill, because of concern about the eliminating the need for pistol permits and language that could allow county employees to bring guns to work. Contact committee members to explain the safety risks that would exist if people were authorized to carry loaded handguns in their vehicles without pistol permits and ask them to oppose any language that would make it easier for an employee to bring a gun to work. Committee members should be asked to oppose this legislation unless amended to address concerns of counties and sheriffs. Committee members: Ward, Chairperson; Fielding, Vice Chairperson; Coleman, Figures, Keahey, Orr, Smitherman, Taylor, Whatley, Williams, Reed
Prompt Payment of Contracts
HB 24 by Rep. Bill Roberts /Sen. Del Marsh
As it passed the House, this bill would not require counties to pay invoices on grant-funded construction projects until 10 days after grant dollars had been received. This avoids the problem of being legally required to pay before outside dollars come in, but still puts counties – especially those that meet only once a month – on a tight schedule. The bill is scheduled for a vote Wednesday morning in the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Utilities Committee, and it is critical that the ACCA-backed provisions added on the House floor remain part of the bill. Make sure committee members understand the importance of these changes, which will allow local governments to continue participation in grant-funded construction projects while also improving notice to contractors about funding sources for particular projects.Committee members: Allen, Chairperson; Reed, Hightower, Holtzclaw, McGill, Ross, Scofield, Smith, Marsh
On the House floor
Valuation of Subsidized Housing Property
HB 458 by Rep. Oliver Robinson
ACCA staff participated in a productive meeting on Thursday with supporters of the bill to alter the way certain subsidized housing properties are assessed for ad valorem tax purposes. The supporters have agreed to consider several issues raised during the meeting and report back whether any concessions can be made. The ACCA staff will keep counties advised of any progress made in the coming days. However, this bill could be considered on the House floor at any time, so it remains important that all House members are contacted about the negative financial ramifications to counties and other local entities if the bill is passed in its current form. Counties should also continue efforts to energize other entities to also contact legislators about this very dangerous piece of legislation.
Taxpayer Bill of Rights and Tax Tribunal
HB 105 by Rep. Paul DeMarco
A scaled-down version of the bill to create a separate entity to hear administrative appeals of tax issues is once again pending in the House, where members must vote to either agree with Senate changes or send the bill .to conference committee to resolve differences. The current version of the bill eliminates many of the earlier-proposed changes to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, focusing instead on the creation of a separate administrative tax tribunal and procedures to follow for appeals to this entity. The bill retains language allowing self-administered counties to elect not to utilize this entity, and instead provides for review of tax decisions under local procedures that closely mirror the appeal process for cases heard by the tax tribunal. And this version retains other ACCA language the supporters have previously accepted. Ask your House members to “concur with Senate changes” to HB 105 or, if the bill should go to a conference committee, to oppose a conference committee report unless county issues are properly addressed.
On the Senate floor
Annual Tax Levy
SB 400 by Sen. Paul Bussman
The bill to clarify the county commission’s requirement to “set” the annual tax levy is in position for consideration by the full Senate. This bill provides that, beginning in 2015, the county commission would only be required to set the annual tax levy when the rate changes. The bill also ratifies all previous tax levies to protect against possible legal challenges to past levies or collection. Because of pending and threatened litigation in several counties, it is very important that this bill be given priority treatment in the Senate and House during the remaining days of this legislative session.Therefore, county officials should contact all senators to explain the importance of this legislation’s passage. And in particular, all members of the Senate Rules Committee should be contacted and asked to have SB 400 placed on the next available special order calendar to allow for floor action by the Senate. (This committee is also important to progress on several other ACCA bills, discussed below.) Committee members: Waggoner, chairperson; Holley, vice chairperson;Beason, Bedford, Dial, Dunn, Figures, Glover, Irons, Orr; Pittman, Sanford, Scofield, Bussman
Public Safety Communication
HB 54 by Rep. Randy Wood | Fact Sheet
SB 215 by Sen. Greg Reed | Fact Sheet
Both the House and Senate versions of the bill to create the crime of interfering with public safety communications are awaiting floor votes in the Senate. The bill would provide important protections for 9-1-1 personnel and equipment. Ask your members of the Senate Rules Committee for help getting a floor vote on this legislation that has received broad support. (This committee is also important to progress on several other ACCA bills, discussed above and below.) Committee members: Waggoner, chairperson; Holley, vice chairperson; Beason, Bedford, Dial, Dunn, Figures, Glover,Irons, Orr; Pittman, Sanford, Scofield, Bussman
State Tax Refund Offset
HB 82 by Rep. Steve Clouse
SB 169 by Sen. Jerry Fielding
The bill to allow counties to request an offset of state income tax refunds for payment of debts due to the county is ready for a Senate floor vote. With only 11 days left in the session, the list of bills to be considered grows more and more crowded, so it is important to push for this noncontroversial bill to be quickly placed on a special order for priority consideration on the Senate floor. County officials are encouraged to contact members of the Senate Rules Committee to ask that this bill be included on a special order calendar during the week of March 3. Additionally, all members of the Senate should be asked to support this legislation when the bill does come to the Senate floor. (This committee is also important to progress on other ACCA Bills, discussed above and below.) Committee members: Waggoner, chairperson;Holley, vice chairperson; Beason, Bedford, Dial, Dunn, Figures, Glover, Irons, Orr; Pittman, Sanford, Scofield, Bussman
Counting Write-in Votes
SB 241 by Sen. Tom Whatley (with committee amendment) | Fact Sheet
HB 198 by Rep. Charles Newton | Fact Sheet
Under current law, write-in votes are counted on election night. Under this proposal, write-in votes would be counted at the same time as provisional ballots when the number of write-ins for a specific office is greater than or equal to the difference in votes between the top two candidates. The bill also provides for counting write-ins on written request accompanied by a bond to cover the cost. Once again, help is needed on the Senate Rules Committee to get a Senate floor vote on this proposal. This is a joint effort of ACCA and probate judges, so please encourage your probate judges to help as well. (This committee is also important to progress on other ACCA Bills, discussed above.) Committee members:Waggoner, chairperson; Holley, vice chairperson; Beason, Bedford, Dial, Dunn, Figures, Glover, Irons, Orr; Pittman,Sanford, Scofield, Bussman