2020 Regular Session: Week 1 Recap

Legislators returned to Montgomery last Tuesday for the start of the 2020 Regular Session. When representatives and senators arrived in the capital last year, they were laser-focused on “Rebuild Alabama,” legislation that increased the gasoline tax and allocated new revenue to transportation projects. But this year, several issues are top-of-mind.

  • Thanks to a booming economy and low unemployment rate, legislators will have the opportunity to allocate hundreds of millions in additional dollars for FY 2021, which begins Oct. 1.
  • Both the executive and legislative branches of government are focused on the state’s prison system and the Corrections Department. Many expect the governor’s office to announce more details about prison construction plans in the very near future. And legislators are working to reduce prisoner overcrowding and increase staffing levels among corrections officers.
  • The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has, very publicly, announced its support for a gambling plan that it claims will bring $1 billion in new revenue to the state. And one key legislator, Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), has introduced a bill to establish a statewide education lottery, with the proceeds split between pre-K programs and needs-based college scholarships.
  • Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston), the Senate’s top Republican, has publicly announced that his number one priority for the session will be education-related legislation. And in the House, Minority Leader Rep. Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville), plans to focus on solutions to the shortage of teachers in the state.

Next week’s edition of Capitol Notes will provide additional details on the Alabama Bankers Association’s 2020 Legislative Agenda.

As always, Capitol Notes provides readers with a brief summary of legislation that might impact Alabama’s banking industry. Those summaries are as follows:

House Bill 62 by Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) expands the Alabama Residential Mortgage Satisfaction Act to include commercial agricultural property, meaning secured creditors would be required to record the satisfaction of a mortgage for commercial agricultural property upon a written request of a mortgagor or a creditor of the mortgagor. The bill was referred to the House Financial Services Committee.

Senate Bill 103 by Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) increases the fee paid to probate judges to record mortgages and earmarks the additional revenue to the Housing Trust Fund. Under current law, the recording tax equates to $75 for every $50,000 of indebtedness, with the revenue distributed to probate judges, counties, and the state. Under this proposal, the recording tax would equate to $100 for every $50,000 of indebtedness. The revenue would still be distributed to probate judges, counties, and the state, but one-tenth of the revenue would also be distributed to the Housing Trust Fund. This fund was created several years ago but has never been funded by the Legislature. Funds would be allocated by an Advisory Board to non-profit entities around the state that work to provide low-income housing. The bill was referred to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

As of the end of the second legislative day, legislators have introduced 358 bills – 195 in the House and 163 in the Senate – and 29 resolutions. The 2019 Regular Session can last for no more than 30 legislative days and must end on or before May 18.

The Legislature will reconvene for its third legislative day on Tuesday.