Capitol News and Notes: Week 6
April 16, 2019
The Legislature has 21 legislative days remaining as it begins its sixth week of the 2019 Regular Session today. Whether this week will include two or three legislative days is currently unknown. Probable topics this week are the education fund budget, two ethics bills, and a ban on local bans of plastic bags, to name a few.
Last week, the General Fund Budget passed the first hurdle in its road to enactment. As reported previously, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 General Fund Budget is $60 million more than the FY 2019 General Fund Budget. Much of the increase - $40 million - goes to the Department of Corrections for increased staffing. The increase comes after a report from the U.S. Department of Justice was released several weeks ago, in which prison conditions were described as unconstitutional.
Of interest to hunters, HB 197 passed the House of Representatives last week. HB 197 would allow baiting of whitetail deer and feral pigs on private and leased lands, after payment of a license fee. The Senate passed a similar, albeit different bill several weeks ago. At least the last four regular legislative sessions have seen a deer/hog baiting bill filed. So, it remains to be seen whether the two houses can work out the differences in conference committee this week.
Several bills of REALTOR® interest took steps in the legislative process last week, including the REALTOR® License Plate bill, a Mortgage Satisfaction bill, and a bill affecting applicants to the Strengthen Alabama Homes Program.
REALTOR® License Plate Bill Passes Committee
SB 208, sponsored by Senator Jimmy Holley (R-Enterprise), passed the Governmental Affairs Committee in the Senate on Tuesday, April 9. The bill allocates the proceeds from sales of REALTOR® car tags to the Alabama REALTORS® Foundation. Through the Foundation, the Alabama REALTORS® will support disaster relief efforts throughout the state, provide for other benevolent efforts for REALTOR® members, and offer educational scholarships for children of REALTORS®.
Senator Holley made the motion to give SB 208 a favorable report. Senator Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) spoke briefly in favor of the bill before the bill passed unanimously with 11 ayes. SB 208 now awaits passage of the full Senate before going to the House.
Residential and Agricultural Mortgage Satisfaction Bill Passes Committee
Last Wednesday, HB 218, sponsored by Representative Chris Pringle (R-Mobile), received a unanimous favorable report as substituted from the House Financial Services Committee.
Under existing law, secured creditors are only required to record the satisfaction of residential mortgages. Other mortgages, including mortgages securing commercial agricultural properties, are excluded from the satisfaction reporting requirements of the Alabama Residential Mortgage Satisfaction Act. HB 218 (as substituted) would expand the Act to require the satisfaction of mortgages securing commercial agricultural properties to be recorded and would rename the Act the Alabama Residential and Agricultural Mortgage Satisfaction Act.
HB 218 now moves to the House floor for consideration.
(Photo Above: Rep. Chris Pringle addresses the House Financial Services Committee.)
Committees Pass Companion Bills Ensuring Confidentiality of Strengthen Alabama Homes (SAH) Program Grant Applicant Documents
On April 10, HB 363, sponsored by Rep. Chip Brown (R-Mobile), received a favorable report from the House Insurance Committee. A companion bill, SB 239, sponsored by Sen. Jack Williams (R-Wilmer) also passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee that same day.
These pieces of legislation ensure that documents and records submitted to the Alabama Department of Insurance (“the Department”) by property owners and insurance companies in support of grant applications for the Strengthen Alabama Homes (SAH) Program are kept confidential by the Department. According to the Department’s Chief of Staff Mark Fowler, the Department supports the legislation. Identical amendments to the legislation were adopted in both committee meetings. The amendments mandate that the amounts of SAH grants awarded and the names of the recipients are available for public disclosure. As a reminder, the SAH Program provides grants to coastal Alabamians who upgrade their residences to certain wind mitigation standards.
The bills now await consideration before their respective houses.