Capitol News & Notes 2020: Week Three

Capitol News & Notes 2020: Week Three

Just like that we are six days through the 2020 Legislative Session. After the third week, we have 24 more legislative days left in the session. We saw another typical week with session on Tuesday and Thursday and committee meetings on Wednesday. As the session is moving along, the committees have become more active this week with 24 committees meeting in the House of Representatives and 16 committees meeting in the Senate. So far, 310 bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives and 225 bills have been introduced in the Senate. 

Municipal Occupational Tax Bill Nears Final Passage

The City of Montgomery’s attempts to enact a municipal occupancy rate continues to face pushback in the state legislature. HB 147, sponsored by Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville), is one step away from final passage, only lacking a vote of the full Senate. The bill requires state legislative action for municipal occupational taxes passed after February 1, 2020 to go into effect. Montgomery voted on Tuesday to approve a 1% occupational tax on all who work in the city, regardless of where they live. With many state workers living elsewhere but working in Montgomery, the state legislature is poised to prevent Montgomery’s ordinance from going into effect.

Mortgage and Deed Tax Increase Bill Stalls

One of the most important jobs of the Alabama REALTORS® is to fight legislation that negatively impacts home ownership. One such bill, SB 103, was placed on the agenda of a Senate committee on Wednesday. The bill would increase mortgage and deed taxes to twenty (20) cents per one hundred dollars ($100). The increase would be split between the Probate Judges, county commissions, the Alabama Housing Trust Fund, and the State General Fund. Prior to the meeting, AAR expressed to legislators on the committee that raising revenues on the backs of home purchasers would negatively impact homeownership. The sponsor drafted an amendment to the bill that the committee did not have a chance to review before considering the amendment.SB 103 was carried over.

Medical Marijuana Bill Clears First Hurdle

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on the medical marijuana bill, SB165, sponsored by Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence). After the hearing, the committee voted 8-1 in favor of the bill and is pending a third reading in the Senate. Senator Melson hopes to get a vote in the Senate within the next two weeks. 

Landfill Bill Passes House

HB140, sponsored by Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton), was passed by the House to change the statutory definition of temporary cover in landfills to allow material other than earth. The legislation is raising concerns due to what has been permitted as alternative cover by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) in the past. Despite concerns over what can be used as an alternative cover, this legislation doesn’t change the operating rules for landfills but rather codifies that ADEM can legally continue to use alternative cover without the added cost of using dirt for daily cover. This bill now heads to the Senate for review.

A Look Ahead 

The next legislative day is coming up on Tuesday, February 25, with the House and Senate convening at 1pm and 2pm respectively. Wednesday is expected to be a Committee day, and Thursday will likely be the 8thlegislative day.