Huge Success as REALTOR® Assistance and Service Animal Bill Receives Final Passage
March 12, 2018
Rules Chairman Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) placed HB 198, the Alabama Assistance and Service Animal Integrity in Housing Act, on the Senate Special Order Calendar last Tuesday, March 6th.
Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) explained the bill, as well as several amendments, to his colleagues. As Senator Whatley described, HB 198 does two things: 1) it codifies federal law, allowing landlords to request documentation of a disability or the need for an assistance animal in certain situations, and 2) it creates a penalty for misrepresenting the need for a service or assistance animal and a penalty for misrepresenting an animal as a service or assistance animal.
As amended, the penalty for a first-time offense is either a civil fine or a class C misdemeanor, at the discretion of a judge, and, for second or subsequent offenses, a violator will be charged with a class B misdemeanor.
Senator Whatley addressed several questions that arose from the floor, and, after being briefly tabled to discuss concerns with Senator Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) and Senator Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham), the bill passed the Senate with a vote of 22 to 2.
Sen. Whatley addressing the Senate.
Rep. Matt Fridy viewing the House concurrence vote.
Since the bill was amended in the Senate, it had to go back to the House of Representatives for a vote on the bill as amended. Only a short time after passing the Senate, Representative Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo), HB 198’s sponsor, brought the bill up on the House floor. Representative Fridy quickly explained the amendment to his fellow House members, who concurred with the amendment, passing HB 198 with a vote of 97 to 0, and 1 abstention. You can view the vote here.
HB 198 now goes to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature. Alabama REALTORS® extends its sincere appreciation to Representative Matt Fridy, Representative Joe Lovvorn, Senator Jabo Waggoner, Senator Tom Whatley, and the 53 House co-sponsors for championing this REALTOR® bill, HB 198, through the Legislature.