CNN Week 9 – Property Tax Cap, Workforce Housing and Child Care Tax Credit and More

CNN Week 9 – Property Tax Cap, Workforce Housing and Child Care Tax Credit and More

The 2024 Legislative Session continues after concluding its 23rd day last Thursday. The ninth week followed the trend of Tuesday and Thursday legislative days and committees on Wednesday. Legislators have 7 legislative days remaining to pass bills and still have a lot to accomplish, including both budgets, a number of confirmations of board appointments, and a number of local bills, in addition to big ticket items like gambling and workforce development. Corresponding to the short time remaining, bill filings slowed dramatically with only 20 new bills in the House and 12 in the Senate. Continue reading for some brief and relevant highlights from the week!


Work Force Bills Advance

The Alabama House pushed forward five of seven bills in the “Working for Alabama” workforce development package being promoted by Gov. Kay Ivey, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, and legislative leadership.

The package is designed to reduce barriers to employment and increase Alabama’s low 57.4% labor force participation rate.

“The goal of this package of bills is really to provide incentives to help people get back into the workforce,” said Rep. Cynthia Almond (R-Tuscaloosa) who sponsored the Alabama Workforce Housing Credit Act.

The five bills cover areas that include childcare, housing, education, and others.

Work Force Housing Credit - Supported by Alabama REALTORS® and carried by Rep. Almond on the House floor, House Bill 346, received unanimous House passage. The bill grants tax credits to developers who build affordable, multi-family housing for low-to-mid income workers.

Administered by the Alabama Housing Finance Authority in collaboration with the Alabama Department of Commerce, the tax credit program would assist individuals earning up to 60% of the adjusted median income by offering non-refundable tax credits to incentivize the development of more affordable housing units. Developers receiving the tax credits agree to cap rent at a certain percentage of the local median income.

Workers in construction, retail, hospitality, entry-level healthcare, and other sectors earning between approximately $11 and $30 per hour are among those expected to benefit.

Child Care Credit- House Bill 358, sponsored by House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville), also sailed through the House with a vote of 103-0.

It proposes the creation of an employer tax credit, childcare facility tax credit, and nonprofit childcare provider grant program, all geared towards encouraging business owners to offer child care as an employment benefit. 

Both the workforce housing and child care credit bills now proceed to the Senate for consideration.


Asbestos Claims Bill

The Alabama Senate and House both approved bills regarding disclosure rules for asbestos exposure cases.

Sponsored by Sen. Josh Carnley (R-Elba) and Rep. Troy Stubbs (R-Wetumpka), the legislation requires plaintiffs to provide more thorough information up front about their claims, including past workplaces and individuals aware of the exposure. The bill is intended to weed out frivolous claims and decrease what can be very high costs of litigation discovery. 

Both bills await committee assignments in the other chamber.


Bill Removing Corporate Report Requirement

A bill aimed at eliminating a redundant reporting obligation for corporations is nearing final approval.

Sponsored by Rep. Margie Wilcox (R-Mobile) and Sen. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay), HB 230 and SB 204 respectively seek to remove the mandate for corporations to file an annual report with the Secretary of State’s office.

Supported by Alabama REALTORS® for streamlining business regulations, both bills have cleared their respective chambers and await committee assignments in the opposite chamber.


Incidental Electrical Installations by Plumbers and Gas Fitters

Several bills were filed this year related to incidental electrical installations or connections by professionals like plumbers, gas fitters, and HVAC contractors. One of those bills, SB  180, sponsored by Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman), passed favorably out of Senate committee last week. That bill would allow plumbers and gas fitters to do limited electrical work incidental to the installation of items like stoves and bathroom fixtures without obtaining an electrical contractor’s license. 

Alabama REALTORS® support the bills as a common sense, cost-saving measure for homeowners, who can utilize the trained professionals installing the fixtures or appliances to connect them to electricity. 


Outdoor Sales Tax Holiday Passes House

The Alabama House awarded unanimous approval to House Bill 257, which is sponsored by Rep. Joe Lovvorn (R-Auburn) and would create an annual Alabama Adventure Awaits sales tax holiday.

This initiative mirrors Florida’s Freedom Summer sales tax holiday and would waive sales tax on specified outdoor recreational items during the first weekend of May. Eligible products include boating supplies such as life vests, water skis, and kayaks; camping equipment like tents and sleeping bags; a variety of fishing gear; general outdoor essentials ranging from sunglasses to binoculars to bicycles, among others. An amendment in the House deleted boats from the eligible products. 


General Contractors License Requirement Change

Senate Bill 292, sponsored by Senator Chris Elliott (R-Fairhope), and its companion bill HB 418, carried by State Rep. Mike Kirkland (R-Scottsboro), focus on general contractor licenses.

They propose exempting labor brokers or temporary labor providers from obtaining a license from the State Licensing Boards for General Contractors if they provide temporary workers to a licensed contractor.

Both bills passed their chambers of origin on Thursday and await their first reading in the opposite chamber.


Budgets Move

The one item that the Legislature must accomplish every year is passage of the General Fund and Education budgets. Both budget bills and corresponding legislation continue to progress. Both budgets are pending consideration by a committee in the second house, having passed their chambers of origin in the last week or so. Once the budgets receive final passage, certain procedural hurdles related to the budgets will no longer apply, allowing the process on other bills to proceed more quickly.  


Two Sales Tax Increase Bills Carried Over

Two bills that would have increased sales taxes on certain items were carried over last week. SB 309 would have increased the sales tax collected for counties and municipalities on items sold at ABC retail stores. Currently, the local sales tax rate is set at 2%, and the bill would have set the sales tax rate at the rate charged by the county and municipality on other items, resulting in an increase in some places of 4 or 5 percent. The bill is estimated to increase sales tax receipts over $5 million but was carried over on the Senate floor. 

The second bill, HB 258, would increase the sales tax rates on items purchased online. Currently, the online sales tax rate, referred to as the Simplified Sellers Use Tax, is a specific amount set by statute. With online sales growing exponentially, proponents of the bill wanted to increase the amount to the sales tax rates normally charged by county and municipal governments. The bill would weight distribution of the funds to the more heavily populated counties and cities. HB 258 is estimated to increase sales tax receipts over $100 million but was carried over on the House floor.

Both bills could return but must be on the relevant chamber’s calendar for the day.