Capitol News & Notes: Week Six
March 23, 2021
Last week, the Legislature continued settling into a more normal schedule using two legislative days on Tuesday and Thursday and using Wednesday as a committee day. They have completed 16 of 30 possible session days. As of today, March 23, the House has introduced 563 bills, and the Senate has introduced 351 bills.
Bills of Interest
REALTOR®-Sponsored Homestead Exemption Bill - HB344, sponsored by Rep. David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook) and eight co-sponsors, will give county tax assessing officials the option of receiving claims for homestead exemptions electronically. On Thursday, the bill came up before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, where it received a favorable report with a 7-0 vote. Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) will carry the bill in the Senate where it now moves for consideration. Thank you, Rep. Faulkner and Sen. Shelnutt!
REALTOR®-Sponsored Bill to Modernize the Code and Operations of AREC - As reported on previously here, SB331, sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville), Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Birmingham), and Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville), would modernize the code in a manner that ensures the Alabama Real Estate Commission (AREC) can fulfill its mission in the most ethical, accountable, and transparent way possible. On Thursday, SB331 was in front of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, where it received a favorable report with a unanimous 7-0 vote. Also, Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper) filed the companion bill in the House, HB553. We appreciate Sen. Shelnutt, Sen. Roberts, Sen. Givhan, and Rep. Rowe for sponsoring this legislation. An overview and explanations for some frequently asked questions can be found here.
Budget Bills Pass Houses of Origin - Both budget bills, HB309, sponsored by Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) and SB189, sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), have now passed out of their house of origin. Two weeks ago, the House passed a record $2.4 billion general fund budget and sent it to the Senate. Last Thursday, the Senate passed the largest education budget in the history of the state at $7.67 billion, and the education budget now moves to the House.
Lottery Bill - After SB214, the comprehensive gaming legislation sponsored by Sen. Del March (R-Anniston), did not pass the Senate two weeks ago, Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) filed SB319, which would legalize a lottery in Alabama. The bill would allow for games seen in other states, such as Powerball and Mega Millions, and would split the tax dollars between the general fund and the education trust fund. On Wednesday, the Senate Tourism Committee gave the bill a favorable report, and it will now move to the Senate for consideration.
A Look Ahead
This week, the Legislature will enjoy spring break. On March 30, the House will reconvene at 1 p.m., and the Senate will reconvene at 2 p.m. During this week, it is expected that the Legislature will only meet for two legislative days and use Wednesday as a committee day. The following week, they are planning on using another three legislative days.