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Bill to freeze police jurisdictions gains support, advances

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

After several years of debate and negotiations, lawmakers and local governments seemed to have reached an agreement to stop the growth of police jurisdictions in Alabama.

Senate Bill 107 by Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, was approved in the House on Tuesday. This is Elliott’s third attempt to rein in the districts that he’s said are taxation without representation.

It was approved 62-28 and now goes back to the Senate to agree with House-made changes.

The bill freezes current police jurisdictions to their current lines. If cities grow and annex land into their limits, the police jurisdictions will disappear.

Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road, sponsored the bill in the House and said Alabama is one of just a few states that has police jurisdictions.

The legislation does not impact cities’ ability or processes for annexation.

Planning jurisdictions, which can currently extend five miles beyond city limits, would be restricted to1.5 miles and could be eliminated entirely if a county commission exercises subdivision regulations.

A change to the bill in the House also allows for future extensions of planning districts from 1.5 to 3 miles, if local legislation is passed. That change won the bill the support of the Alabama League of Municipalities, which had previously been opposed to the legislation. It has said planning jurisdictions allow for more seamless growth of cities, including regulations for the construction of subdivisions.

Limiting police jurisdictions has been a priority for the Association of County Commissioners of Alabama for several years. In a letter of support to lawmakers, executive director Sonny Brasfield said the newest version of the bill clears up confusion about police, planning and code enforcement boundaries.

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