Capitol News & Notes: Week 5 - First-Time Homebuyer Bill Progressing
February 22, 2022
Last week was the Legislature’s fifth week of the 2022 regular session. Following the norm this session, the Legislature used three legislative days and held committee meetings on Wednesday. Lawmakers moved several bills, but opponents to two bills - a permitless gun carry bill and an anti-riot bill – delayed the process considerably. Both of those bills are out of House committee but have not been considered on the House floor. Of the bills that are moving, a bill to untax certain credits under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed both chambers and a bill to postpone the Alabama Literacy Act, which would hold back third-graders who are not proficient in reading, passed out of a Senate committee. Here are the highlights for week five.
AREC Sunset Bill Passes
The House of Representatives passed SB 98, a bill to renew the Alabama Real Estate Commission (AREC) for one year. Since the bill provides a one-year extension, a similar bill will be filed next year. SB 98 now goes to Governor Ivey for her signature. More background information can be found in Week 3 of CNN here.
First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Renewal Moving Along
REALTOR®-supported HB 171 passed out of House committee last Wednesday. Sponsored by Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette), the bill will extend the First-Time and Second Chance Homebuyer Savings Account program for five more years and expand the length of time a person can save from five to 10 years. The program encourages homeownership by providing tax incentives to Alabamians who do not own a home. Those who have never owned a home, or who have not owned a home in 10 years, can open a savings account, and deposits are deductible from the taxed income of the account owner. The bill now can be considered by the full House.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to participate in the Call for Action to encourage members of the Alabama House of Representatives to support this legislation as soon as possible. If you have not yet participated, you can reach out to your Representative here.
Home Inspector Liability Bill Update
Alabama REALTORS® worked with the Alabama Homebuilders Association to carry over a bill giving home inspectors more liability protection. HB 275 would give home inspectors the blessing of the Legislature to place liability limitations in their contracts with customers. While provisions limiting liability are already common in home inspector contracts, this bill goes too far for a group that already has limited oversight, no sunset provision and an extremely limited complaint process. More information can be found on this legislation in Week 4 of CNN here.
Tax Liens – A New Bill
Alabama REALTORS® has been working with proponents to amend a bill dealing with tax liens. After productive discussions, a new bill has been filed that scales back on the changes and is much more friendly to private property owners trying to redeem their property. HB 371, sponsored by Rep. Corley Ellis (R-Columbiana), makes several clarifications to the tax lien process while leaving in place important timelines and protections for those who have gotten behind on their property taxes. More information can be found on this legislation in Week 3 of CNN here.
Electrical Contractors Look to Expand Scope to Property Managers and Handy Men
The Electrical Contractors Board filed a bill last week that would require property managers and handymen to obtain an electrical contractors’ license or cease doing any electrical work. HB 357 makes sweeping changes to the license laws affecting electrical contractors. Alabama REALTORS® opposes the bill for several reasons, including the large authority the bill gives to the Executive Director to issue subpoenas and the expansion of required licenses to include handymen and property managers, who can easily perform routine maintenance. Alabama REALTORS® is working with other interested parties to amend the bill.
The Legislature looks to hold another three-day week with committees on Wednesday. This week, the three broadband expansion bills are in committee on Wednesday, with both sets having already passed their chamber of origin. Alabama REALTORS® continues to support efforts to expand broadband into areas that lack broadband or lack sufficient coverage. Also, the General Fund Budget is expected to come up in Senate committee on Wednesday, which is earlier than in prior years.