REALTOR® Bill, HB 198, Passes Another Hurdle
February 27, 2018
The Alabama Assistance and Service Animal Integrity in Housing Act (HB 198), a REALTOR® bill, was given a favorable report by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, February 21st. As has been reported previously, HB 198 is meant to deter the misrepresentation of pets as service or assistance animals in housing by creating a penalty for such misrepresentation. Senate Judiciary Chair Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), presided over a packed committee agenda and presented the bill to the committee. Several friendly amendments were added to the bill – one that gives judges the discretion to levy a civil penalty for the first violation and a second amendment that clarified language to ensure the bill is consistent with federal law. Members of the Alabama REALTORS® public policy team spoke in favor of the bill and Representative Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo), the bill’s sponsor, was present at the committee meeting to answer any questions on the bill. Senator Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) made the motion pass the amended bill out of committee, and Senate Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) made the second.
HB 198 now travels to the Senate floor for final passage. Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) will handle the bill on the floor of the Senate.
Sen. Cam Ward
Sen. Tom Whatley
Alabama Assistance and Service Animal Integrity in Housing Act REALTORS® are advancing 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.