Capitol News and Notes: Week 3
March 26, 2019
The Legislature completed three legislative days last week and will be out this week for Spring Break. The Legislature used last week to file an additional 153 bills in the House and 92 bills in the Senate. Key topics from last week include the General Fund and Education Fund budgets, medical marijuana and common core repeal.
As required by law, Governor Kay Ivey filed both budgets with the legislature on the second legislative day. As foretold by Gov. Ivey, the bills contain raises for state employees and teachers, as well as increased funding for Alabama’s pre-k program, the Department of Corrections and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Revenues for the General Fund and Education Fund are higher this year, so legislative changes to the two budget bills are expected to be less intrusive.
Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) filed House Bill 243 (HB 243), a bill to allow medical marijuana to treat certain professionally-diagnosed conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, terminal illnesses and end-of-life care. In a departure from prior years, HB 243 has bi-partisan support with 20 Democrats and Republicans co-sponsoring the bill. HB 243 is pending committee action in the House.
Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston), the Senate President Pro Tem., filed Senate Bill 119 (SB 119), a bill that will replace Alabama’s current education standards - commonly known as Common Core. SB 119 passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 23-7, with an amendment that allows the state to participate in certain national programs and standards, such as Advanced Placement (AP) coursework. As amended, the repeal of Common Core Standards is effective May 2021. SB 119 now heads to the House of Representatives.
Bill Exempting Rentals of Hotel Spaces Not Used for Overnight Accommodations from Lodging Tax Passes House Committee
Of interest to the real estate industry, HB 54, sponsored by Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Birmingham), received a favorable report in the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee last week. The bill revises Ala. Code § 40-26-1 to exclude rentals of ballrooms, conference rooms and similar spaces in hotels from the lodging tax assessed by the statute if those spaces are not rented for overnight sleeping purposes.
In the committee meeting, Rep. Mooney explained that this bill simply codifies an existing Department of Revenue regulation, Sales and Use Tax Rule 810-6-5-.13, which was made effective on September 28, 2017. He further noted that the bill was introduced last year, passed the Senate and was reported favorably out of a House committee, but was not considered by the whole House due to time constraints. As introduced, this year’s bill is the same as last year’s version.
Since the bill codifies an existing rule, no impact to the real estate industry is expected. HB 54 now moves to a second reading and placement on the House calendar for further consideration.
The Legislature plans to reconvene on Tuesday, April 2, and the Alabama REALTORS® Public Policy team will continue to monitor legislation for impacts to the real estate industry.