Capitol News and Notes: Week 2 – REALTOR® Bill and Special Session
January 25, 2022
The week began with the regular session and ended during a special session. On Tuesday, the Legislature used a third legislative day, passing one bill out of the House and adjourning until February 1 after Governor Ivey called a special session.
Tuesday also saw a great crowd of REALTORS® in the capital city for REALTOR® Day. From networking and a panel discussion in the morning to the annual Legislative Reception that night, REALTORS® interacted with one another, legislators and statewide officers, advocating for private property rights and the real estate profession. Here are some highlights from week two of the Legislative Session.
Regular Session Update
Both houses of the Legislature met briefly on Tuesday before adjourning. The House passed one bill that will repeal an act passed last year allowing collegiate athletes to be paid, an act that proponents say is more restrictive than NCAA rules and thus hampers recruiting efforts. Also on Tuesday, representatives filed 25 new bills for a total of 174 bills in the House, and senators filed 20 new bills for a total of 120 bills in the Senate. While the Legislature meets in special session, new bills can only be filed in the special session and not the regular session.
REALTOR® Bill Filed
Of the bills filed, HB 171, sponsored by Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette), is a REALTOR®-supported bill that continues the First-Time and Second-Chance Homebuyer Savings Account program for five more years. The original legislation passed in 2018 has a provision prohibiting the creation of new accounts five years after the bill’s enactment, a term which ends in early 2023. The First-Time Homebuyers program incentivizes first-time and second-chance homebuyers to save towards the purchase of a home, with deposits and interest deductible from income up to specific limits. With today’s rising price of homes, the program is even more vital for those saving towards the purchase of a first home. Thank you to Rep. South for sponsoring the bill.
Special Session – Broadband and Sewer Infrastructure Priorities
The Governor called the Legislature into special session starting Wednesday, January 19. According to the Governor’s proclamation, the session’s focus is Alabama’s appropriation of over $700 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds. You can view a copy of the proclamation (call) here.
The areas of proposed spending include broadband infrastructure, water and sewer infrastructure, assisting hospitals, and others. Alabama REALTORS® has been a member of a broadband coalition for multiple years and supports efforts to increase the state’s broadband footprint, as well as efforts to provide water and sewer infrastructure to areas of the state where it is sorely lacking. Of importance to employers, lawmakers are also planning to appropriate over $79 million to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to limit or potentially nullify what was expected to be a significant increase in unemployment taxes.
The same bill was filed in the House and Senate and is traveling concurrently. Both bills have passed out of committee in their respective houses. By the time of this publication, the Legislature may have passed the bills out of the House and the Senate.
Today, the House and Senate convened at 1pm and 3:30pm respectively. It is the third legislative day in the special session. Tomorrow is likely a committee day, with Thursday seeing both houses reconvene for the fourth, and likely last, legislative day of the special session.