Update From the Association of County Commissioner's of Alabama
Posted by: Matt Boster
Date: Mar 28 2014 2:57 PM
With only three days remaining, the ACCA is in good position to pass six more bills from its 2014 priority list when the Legislature returns from spring break on Tuesday, April 1. Unfortunately, many other groups will be working to get their issues included on the work agendas for both houses during the final three days of this session. That means counties need to be working diligently during this week to ensure ACCA bills are given priority when the Legislature reconvenes next Tuesday.
The following is a list of ACCA bills still needing action by the House or Senate with details on actions to take at the county level to ensure these bills reach the governor’s desk. A report on the status of other bills counties have been tracking throughout the session will be sent later in the week – with instructions on how county officials can help ensure bills are not considered for final passage until county concerns are addressed.
In the House
Annual Tax Levy SB 400 by Sen. Paul Bussman and Rep. Bill Roberts The bill that will require the county commission to set the annual tax levy only when there is a change in the ad valorem tax rate is out of committee in the House and ready for floor action. This bill is extremely important for counties that have been or may be sued for failure to set this levy during the first meeting in February, since in addition to changing the requirements for setting the annual levy, the bill ratifies all past ad valorem tax collections. Members of the House Rules Committee should be contacted to ask if they will “pick” SB 400 on April 1 to be on the calendar for Thursday. An overview of the bill is linked here. And all House members should be contacted to request their support of this very important bill when it is considered on the House floor. Committee members: Chair Mac McCutcheon, Vice Chair Ron Johnson, Ranking Minority Member James Buskey, Barbara Boyd, Craig Ford, Alan Harper, Victor Gaston, Lynn Greer,Mike Jones, Richard Laird, John Merrill, Mary Sue McClurkin, Kerry Rich, Oliver Robinson, Randy Wood
Local Constitutional Amendment Votes SB 274 by Sen. Linda Coleman and Rep. Rod Scott A revised version of the bill to alter the process for forcing local constitutional amendments onto a statewide ballot is also ready for final passage in the House when the Legislature returns to work next week. The bill as passed the Senate provides for a two-step voting process that would allow some legislators to oppose a proposed amendment without forcing a statewide vote. The changes made in the Senate should remove much of the opposition to this bill so it is imperative that House members hear from county officials about the changes. An overview of the bill in its current form is linked here to help explain the bill to legislators. And it is requested that counties contact ACCA staff if legislators have questions about how this process will work.
County Administrative Powers SB 367 by Sen. Del Marsh and Rep. Randy Davis The proposed constitutional amendment to grant counties certain administrative powers will be considered by the House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Counties should contact members of the committee to ask that they approve this bill so that it can be considered by the full House on the last day of the session. The bill met with unexpected opposition from probate judges when it was debated on the Senate floor last Thursday. Therefore, counties are asked to also contact their probate judge to let them know that there is specific language in this bill to prohibit the county commission from limiting, altering, or impacting the constitutional, statutory, or administrative duties, powers, or responsibilities of any other elected officials – and that passage of this amendment will actually allow the county commission and probate judge or other elected officials to work together on programs for the benefit of the county without the need for local legislation. A copy of the bill in its current form is linked above, and an overview of its provisions is available here. Committee members: Chair Randy Davis, Vice ChairRandy Wood, Ranking Minority Member Richard Lindsey, Paul Beckman, Adline Clarke, Paul DeMarco, Juandalynn Givan,John Merrill, Barry Moore.
In the Senate
Local Government Health Insurance Board HB 136 by Rep. Mac McCutcheon and Sen. Arthur Orr It is anticipated that the bill to create a separate health insurance board to make decisions affecting the health insurance policies in place for local government employees will be on the Senate special order calendar on Tuesday, April 1. However, members of the Senate Rules Committee should be contacted to ask that they make sure this bill is included on the final list of bills recommended for consideration, and all members of the Senate should be asked to vote for passage of this bill when it reaches the Senate floor. An overview of the bill, with a list of counties and municipalities participating in the Local Government Health Insurance Program, is linked here. Committee members: Waggoner, chairperson; Holley, vice chairperson; Beason, Bedford, Dial, Dunn, Figures, Glover, Irons, Orr; Pittman, Sanford, Scofield, Bussman
Counting Write-in Votes HB 198 by Rep. Charles Newton and Sen. Tom Whatley The bill to adjust the process for counting write-in votes is also ready for final passage and could be considered by the Senate as early as next Tuesday. The bill provides that write-in votes will 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. It is anticipated there will be technical amendments to the bill that will remove remaining concerns about this legislation. County officials should contact their senators to ask for their support of this bill, which is a joint effort of ACCA and probate judges.
Business Personal Property Taxes HB 108 by Rep. Greg Wren and Sen. Slade Blackwell The bill to streamline the business personal property taxation process by establishing an online system and/or short form for filing personal property tax returns is also awaiting final passage in the Senate. This bill is designed to significantly reduce existing problems in filing business personal property tax forms and thereby increase compliance and revenues generated from the tax. The bill has broad support from business, counties, and the Alabama Department of Revenue and should pass quickly once it reaches the Senate floor for consideration. County officials should contact their senators to ask for their help in getting this bill on an upcoming special order calendar – and to ask that they vote for the measure when it comes to the floor for debate.