CNN Week 8 – Senate Confirms New Commissioners; Squatter Removal and Budgets Advance

CNN Week 8 – Senate Confirms New Commissioners; Squatter Removal and Budgets Advance

Only nine legislative days remain this session after the legislature met last Tuesday and Thursday. As a reminder, a bill needs five legislative days to pass, so fewer and fewer new bills will pass or be filed in the coming weeks. Several highlights from week eight include the budgets moving, the Senate confirming two new commissioners, and we are one step closer on the squatter removal bill and the workforce housing tax credit. Continue reading for more information on week 8! 


AREC Appointments Confirmed 

Alabama REALTORS® appreciates Senator April Weaver's (R–Alabaster) leadership in confirming two new appointments to the Alabama Real Estate Commission. As required by Alabama law, nominees for the commission must be made by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Last week, the Senate confirmed Kim Barelare for the 4th Congressional District and Juanita Taggart-Jones for the 7th Congressional District. Congratulations to the new commissioners! 


Lake Martin Boating Bill

A house bill adding wake boating and wake boarding limitations for Lake Martin passed out of Senate committee. HB 209, sponsored by Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) would add Lake Martin to existing laws limiting wake boating and wake boarding within 200 fee of the shore or other structure. Furthermore, the bill requires all boats to travel at idle speed when within 100 feet from the shore or other structure on impounded lakes. An amendment including Weiss Lake was added in the House and will be considered by the full Senate. 


Budgets Moving through Both Chambers

The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved a $9.3 billion Education Trust Fund (ETF) Budget for Fiscal Year 2025, which includes record spending for K-12 public schools community colleges, and four-year universities. The budget includes a 2% pay raise for teachers and $1.66 billion for colleges and universities, a 7.1% increase from last year. The ETF and a separate supplemental appropriation bill passed by the committee now await full House approval. A slew of ETF bills are being considered by the House today. 

On Thursday, the Senate passed the 2025 General Fund budget for non-education state agencies, which totaled around $3.7 billion and also sets a new spending record. The General Fund now goes to the House for consideration.


Squatter Removal Bill Advances

An Alabama REALTOR®-supported bill to set a process for removing squatters has one remaining step. HB 182, sponsored by Rep. Craig Lipscomb (R-Gadsden), passed out of Senate committee last week. The bill would set an affidavit process for home owners to fill out and submit to law enforcement when a squatter moves into their home. A nation-wide concern, squatting is a massive infringement on property rights, but law enforcement often refers the issue to the courts as a civil dispute when the squatters claim some right to the property. HB 182 would allow law enforcement to remove the squatter in a much more timely manner without involving the court system. The bill makes clear that squatting is a crime and increases the penalty for squatters who cause $1000 or more in property damage. Legitimate occupants are protected under the bill by making a false affidavit a crime and allowing a civil suit against a false filer. 

The bill is now up for consideration by the full Senate. 


Workforce Housing Tax Credit Passes House Committee

The House Ways and Means Education Committee awarded a favorable report on Wednesday to House Bill 346 by State Rep. Cynthia Almond (R–Tuscaloosa), which aims to combat Alabama’s workforce shortage by granting tax credits to developers who construct affordable, multi-family housing for low-to-mid income workers.

To be administered by the Alabama Housing Finance Authority in collaboration with the Alabama Department of Commerce, the initiative focuses on affordable housing for individuals earning up to 60% of the Adjusted Median Income. With support from Alabama REALTORS®, the bill offers non-refundable tax credits that could potentially supplement federal funds to encourage the development of more affordable housing units. Developers, in exchange for these credits, would agree to limit rent to a certain percentage of the local median income.

The targeted beneficiaries include workers in construction, retail, hospitality, entry-level healthcare, and other sectors, earning between approximately $11 and $30 per hour.


Living Shoreline Permit Bill Moves Through Committee

Following its approval in the House, HB 215, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Fidler (R–Fairhope), received a favorable report from the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee.

If it advances through the Senate, HB 215 will establish a permit initiative allowing shoreline proprietors along the coast to conduct dredging and establish living shorelines. Oversight of the program would be managed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Comments in the Senate committee were positive, with several Senators questioning whether the bill could be expanded to other parts of the state.

The bill is now up for consideration by the full Senate. 


Online Auction of State-held Tax Delinquent Property

HB 196, sponsored by Rep. Reed Ingram (R-Mathews), received final passage and was transmitted to the Governor. The bill establishes an online auction for property held by the state for unpaid property taxes. These properties languish off the tax rolls for years, and the bill is a first step in putting these properties back in the hands of tax paying Alabamians. Alabama REALTORS® appreciates Rep. Ingram and the Alabama Department of Revenue for supporting and pushing the bill.


Bill Doubling Mortgage and Deed Recording Fee

One bill opposed by Alabama REALTORS® was considered by the full Senate on Tuesday. SB 233 would have doubled the mortgage and deed recording fee, from its current $0.15 per $100 to $0.30 per $100. This would have resulted in an estimated tax increase of over $56 million paid for by Alabama’s homebuyers. During a time of burgeoning housing costs, additional increases are an unnecessary burden.

The bill failed a procedural vote on the Senate floor.