CNN Week 11 – Sine Die and Commissioner Barran Confirmed for New Term
April 12, 2022
The 2022 Regular Legislative Session ended last week, adjourning sine die just before midnight on Thursday, April 7. Week 11 saw three legislative days instead of the anticipated four, as legislators left one day remaining. The second budget bill – the Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget - was approved early Thursday, followed by the drawn-out discussion and/or passage of several GOP priority bills.
Commissioner Emmette Barran Confirmed
Mr. Emmette “Em” Barran, who chairs the Alabama Real Estate Commission, was confirmed by the Senate for a second term last Thursday. Terms for commissioners are set by Alabama law at five years. Commissioner Barran’s current term is set to expire on September 30, 2022, so the new term will run through September 30, 2027. Alabama REALTORS® appreciates Commissioner Barran’s willingness to serve and his efforts on behalf of Alabama’s consumers. Alabama REALTORS® would also like to thank Governor Kay Ivey for nominating Commissioner Barran, as well as Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), who chairs the Senate Confirmations committee, for handling the nomination on the Senate floor.
Lead Based Paint Bill Passes
Senate Bill 158, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), will provided greater authority to the Alabama Department of Public Health (DPH) to enforce Alabama’s Lead Reduction Act. Alabama REALTORS® engaged on this bill several years ago, with bill sponsors and other stakeholders, to ensure children are better protected from lead poisoning from pre-1978 paint while maintaining proper guidelines are followed for enforcement. The bill allows DPH to fine contractors for violations of the Act, from $250 a day with a maximum of $5,000. The bill went to Governor Ivey for her signature.
Wake Surfing Bill Dies
A bill aimed at protecting property owners and others on Alabama’s lakes from wake surfing failed to pass late Thursday night. Senator Garlan Gudger (R-Huntsville) and Representative Ginny Shaver (R-Leesburg) sponsored SB 281, which, as introduced, added statewide requirements for wake surfers to wear life vests and prohibited wake surfing within set distances of docks and other locations. Wake surfing is where a person surfs the wake of a boat, utilizing the wake to propel forward rather than being pulled by the boat via a rope like skiing or wake boarding. Wake surfing boats are designed to put off large wakes, which allows the wake to be surfed but can cause problems with increased wear on docks, erosion on shorelines and danger to swimmers and other boats.
The bill was gradually whittled down in the House, first to only apply to man-made bodies of water and then only to apply to Smith Lake. While the bill passed both chambers, the Senate did not concur with the changes made in the House, and an attempted conference committee to reach a compromise failed for lack of time.
Several other bills of interest passed the Legislature. The Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget was approved Wednesday after the House agreed to amendments added by the Senate. The $8.2 billion budget contains a pay raise of at least 4% to teachers with more experienced teachers receiving higher raises, a $200 increase in per-classroom spending for supplies, and $20 million for math coaches, which was accompanied by another passed bill, the “Numeracy Act” to increase math standards in the state.
The Legislature also made changes to requirements for Unemployment Compensation. SB 224 will require individuals applying for or who have received unemployment compensation to contact at least three prospective employers for each week of unemployment claimed.
From a tax standpoint, the Legislature passed a bill increasing the optional standard deduction by $1,000 for joint filers and $500 for individuals, the adjusted gross income range in order to claim the maximum option standard deduction by $2,000 up to $35,000, and the adjusted gross income range allowed to claim dependent exemptions by $20,000 up to $50,000.
The Legislature may return this year for a special session. While as yet undecided, the final tranche of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds is expected to come to the state this summer, and the legislature must appropriate the funds for them to be used.
Also, stay tuned to Real Estate Alabama (REA) for an upcoming article giving a full recap of the 2022 Alabama Regular Session.