Capitol News and Notes: Week Five
March 9, 2020
Just like that, the Legislature has used one-third of its session days. With five weeks down and 20 more legislative days to go, we are seeing a regular pattern emerge with session days on Tuesday and Thursday and committee meetings on Wednesday. So far, 695 bills have been introduced this session with 412 bills in the House of Representatives and 283 bills in the Senate.
REALTOR®-Sponsored HB218: Electronic Filing Option for Homestead Exemptions
HB218, sponsored by Rep. Faulkner (R-Birmingham) along with 18 co-sponsors, passed the House State Government Committee on Wednesday, March 4. After the passage of last year’s REALTOR®-supported homestead exemption bill, homestead exemptions currently can be claimed by a form affidavit filed at the tax assessor’s office. The bill goes a step further to amend the current law to give county tax officials the option of accepting electronic filings of homestead exemptions. If passed, the county tax officials would have the ability to decide to receive any filings for homestead exemptions by mail, in person or electronically. This will hopefully speed up the filing process to make homeownership that much easier!
Rep. Boyd (D-Anniston) made the motion to give HB218 a favorable report. Rep. Rogers (D-Birmingham) moved to second, and the bill passed unanimously. HB218 now awaits passage in the full House prior to moving on the Senate. Alabama REALTORS® greatly appreciates Rep. Faulkner’s efforts on our behalf.
5G Infrastructure Bill
SB172, sponsored by Sen. Orr (R-Decatur), would set the standards for deploying 5G cellular infrastructure across the state. After initial public opposition by the Alabama League of Municipalities due to concerns that cities would lose oversight of their right of way resources, the bill was amended to provide for more local control of access to existing utility structures and to ensure that any existing contracts with wireless providers would remain intact. On Thursday, March 5, the bill passed the Senate with a 30-0 vote and now moves to the House.
Boating Safety Bill
HB284, sponsored by Rep. Shaver (R-Leesburg) along with 25 co-sponsors, aims to increase boating safety and protect property owners on bodies of water. First, the bill enhances safety on the water by limiting boat speeds in specific situations. For instance, the bill would require boats to slow to idle speed within 100 feet of a swimmer, a shoreline adjacent to a residence, and many public-use locations, such as docks, marinas, public beaches, and restaurants. The bill would also require emergency shut-off switches for boats under 26 feet in length (current law is under 24 feet). Additionally, the bill increases the minimum age to operate a personal watercraft from 12 to 14, tightens the consequences of boating under the influence, and provides criminal penalties for those not in compliance with the idle speed restrictions. On Wednesday, March 4, the bill was given a favorable report by the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and is awaiting a vote in the House.
Safer Place Shelters
HB216, sponsored by Rep. Lovvorn (R-Auburn), would require the state Emergency Management Agency (EMA) to adopt guidelines for individuals and entities throughout Alabama who volunteer to have property designated as safer place facilities during severe weather events. The bill was given a favorable report by the House State Government Committee and will move to the full House for consideration.
A Look Ahead
The 11th legislative day began today, Tuesday, March 10, 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 12th legislative day. The Legislature is not expected to meet the following week, March 16-20.