2018 Legislative Preview
by Stacey Sanders, 2018 Public Policy Chair
January 8, 2018
The Alabama Legislature convened on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, and will adjourn no later than April 23, 2018 at midnight. Since 2018 is an election year, there will be discussions in both chambers about adjourning early to allow legislators time to campaign before the primaries on June 5th. All state constitutional offices and legislative seats will be up for election in 2018. During the Session, the Legislature will focus on passing two budgets- the Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget and the General Fund budget. The House of Representatives leadership has announced their agenda called “Flag, Family, and Country” - a list of items and issues, aside from the budgets, that will be considered this session. Other caucus agendas are expected to be announced later this week. Your Alabama Association of REALTORS® public policy team will be front and center to monitor all developments for anything that would harm our members or their businesses and to advance legislation to promote the interests of our members.
The legislature has a constitutional duty to pass balanced budgets each year. While the ETF will be strong again this year, the General Fund continues to be financially strained, as the legislature deals with prison issues and Medicaid shortfalls and considers other costly measures such as infrastructure expansion for economic development.
Legislative Caucus Agendas
The House GOP’s “Flag, Family, and Country” agenda will consist of bills centered on the prevention of domestic violence, veteran’s employment incentives, rural development projects, and a bill to provide Alabamians with more transparency regarding taxpayer dollars. Agenda bills are high priority bills, so expect these to pass this session. Other caucus agendas are expected to be announced later this week.
AAR’s Public Policy Agenda
As always, the Alabama REALTORS® public policy team will be on the ground advocating for REALTORS®, the real estate industry, and private property rights.
REALTORS®, first and foremost, will monitor all developments for any legislative initiatives that would harm our members or their businesses. As an industry, this is one of the most important roles we play. As former President Calvin Coolidge said, “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”
REALTORS® will also advance several initiatives:
Alabama First-Time Home Buyers Savings Accounts (FHSA). REALTORS® will advance a program to help promote homeownership with potential first time homebuyers in Alabama. The legislation would establish First-Time Home Buyers Savings Accounts to help first time homebuyers save money toward the purchase of their first home. The FHSA Bill creates tax-free savings accounts that a first-time buyer can use on the down payment and closing costs of a residence. These savings accounts will allow more people to experience the American dream of home ownership.
Alabama Assistance and Service Animal Integrity in Housing Act. REALTORS® will advance an initiative to help combat the misrepresentation and undocumented presentation of pets as service and/or assistance animals. This issue has spread widely across the state with the ability to go online and access fraudulent service and companion animal documentation with no medical evaluation and/or verification. Service animals are highly trained, disciplined, and skilled working animals that assist people with disabilities with many important and critical tasks of day-to-day life. The aim of the REALTOR® bill is to deter fraudulent activity, while protecting those with a medically documented need of a service or assistance animal, and provide clear guidance for real estate professionals in working with consumers in this important area of real estate.
Right of Redemption. REALTORS® are advancing an initiative to provide a technical amendment to the statutory redemption law to clarify certain timelines during and following the foreclosure process. The aim of the proposal is to make clear certain notice requirements required by law and does not propose changes to any existing timelines in the current law.
With the 2018 Regular Legislative Session convening today, the Alabama REALTORS® public policy team will be looking forward to providing updates from the halls of the legislature. Stay up-to-date on the 2018 Alabama Legislative Session at Capital News & Notes under the Public Policy tab on our website, www.alabamarealtors.com, and be on the lookout for Calls for Action this session.