Capitol News & Notes: Week Four
March 9, 2021
The Legislature reconvened last week on Tuesday, March 2, and used another three legislative days as expected. They have completed 12 of 30 possible session days. As of today, March 9, the House has introduced 507 bills, and the Senate has introduced 307 bills.
Below are some of the notable bills of interest to our REALTOR® members.
Broadband Expansion Bill
SB215, sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston), would create a state entity, the Alabama Digital Expansion Authority, to oversee the expansion of broadband services throughout the state and would allow the Legislature to appropriate direct funding to the state entity. This bill would be a big step in improving broadband availability in Alabama, especially in rural areas. On Wednesday, this bill was passed by the Senate with a 32-0 vote, and it now moves to the House.
Remote Ink Notary Bill
SB275, sponsored by Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville), would amend current notary law to give the option of remote ink notarization. The intent of SB275 is to codify the language from Governor Ivey’s Executive Orders during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide security to safely notarize documents remotely using identity proofing measures, which would help closings and many other transactions. On Wednesday, this bill was heard in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it received a favorable report. It will move to the full Senate for consideration next. There is also a companion bill in the House, HB470, sponsored by Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest), which is awaiting action in the House State Government Committee.
Tax Credit for Qualified Storm Shelter
HB227, sponsored by Rep. Joe Lovvorn (R-Auburn), would provide a tax credit of up to $3,000 for eligible taxpayers who incur costs in the construction or installation of a qualified storm shelter. After receiving a favorable report from the House Ways and Means Education Committee, the bill was passed by the House on Wednesday with a 94-0 vote, and it will now move to the Senate.
State Flag Display Bill
SB8, sponsored by Sen. Chris Elliot (R-Fairhope), would prohibit a homeowner’s or condominium association from preventing the display of the flag of the State of Alabama on residential property. There is an existing federal law which prohibits the same for the display of the flag of the United States. Importantly, SB8 does not prevent reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag. On Thursday, this bill was considered by the Senate and passed with a 25-3 vote. It received its first reading in the House and is awaiting action in the House committee on Urban and Rural Development.
A Look Ahead
The House reconvened today at 1 p.m., and the Senate reconvened at 2 p.m. This week, it is expected that the Legislature will only meet for two legislative days and use Wednesday as a committee day as has typically been done in years past.