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Legislative briefs for May 9

Local gas tax restriction bill advances

A bill that would limit local gas tax revenue spending to road and bridge construction and maintenance saw unanimous approval Tuesday in the Senate County and Municipal Committee.

Under existing law, the revenue collected from the state’s gas tax may only be used on motor vehicle infrastructure such as roads and bridges. However, gas taxes on the local level do not carry the same restrictions.

House Bill 254, sponsored by Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, would impose the same spending restrictions that exist on gas taxes charged by the state to cities and counties. 

In 1952, the Alabama Legislature voted to restrict the revenue from the state’s gas tax to motor vehicle infrastructure-related costs. The bill applies those restrictions at the local level.

Sen. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, asked about municipalities that currently allocate the gas tax revenue to non-infrastructure spending and rely on that money to support other operations. Under the bill, the allocation to infrastructure will only apply to municipalities that introduce or increase a gas tax after the bill’s passage. 

“Thank you for that because that’s the only thing that I was worried about; you know how they were going to replace the funds,” said Sen. Chris Elliot, R-Josephine, the chairman of the committee.

The bill now moves to the Senate for a final vote before being sent to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature.

The bill passed unceremoniously with a unanimous vote.


Doxing penalty bill passes House

A bill that would criminalize the act of publicly sharing an individual’s personal information with the intent to cause harm — an act known as doxing — passed in the Alabama House on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Rep. Shane Stringer, R-Citronelle, House Bill 287 would make doxing a Class A misdemeanor on a first offense, and a Class D felony on a second or subsequent offense.

The bill was introduced by Stringer in 2021, though the legislature “ran out of time,” Stringer said on the House floor.

An amendment was introduced by Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, R-Trinity, that would exclude political speech, which he said included individuals sharing contact information of elected officials online or in any other public forum, from the proposed law. The amendment was accepted by Stringer, and was approved unanimously.

The bill itself also went on to be passed unanimously.


Bill prohibiting disability discrimination with organ transplants passes House

A bill that would prohibit health providers from discriminating against an individual with disabilities in determining whether they will receive an organ transplant passed in the Alabama House on Tuesday.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, a nonprofit advocacy organization, organ transplant discrimination against those with disabilities can be significant, with a 2008 study finding that 43% of organ transplant centers saying that they “always” or “usually” consider whether a child has a disability when deciding whether to place them on their organ transplant list.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Debbie Wood, R-Valley, who has introduced similar bills in past sessions that have failed to pass.

“I’ve been working on this bill almost five years, so I get a little emotional,” Wood said. “Historically, individuals with mental or physical-based disabilities have been denied life saving organ transplants based on assumptions that their lives are less worthy.”

The only House member to speak on the bill was Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, who asked Wood if she could share any data on the frequency of organ transplant discrimination against those with disabilities in Alabama. Wood shared a personal anecdote about an individual in her community who had faced such discrimination, but said that she did not have broader data on the frequency of such cases.

The bill ultimately passed with a vote of 101-0, with one abstention, and later received 72 co-sponsors.


House passes bill mandating wholesalers reveal intent to homeowner

The Alabama House on Tuesday passed a bill that would make it a Class C misdemeanor for individuals to enter into a sale contract with a homeowner without notifying them of their intent to wholesale the property.

The process of real estate wholesaling is when an individual puts a seller’s home under contract with the intent to find a buyer, charge the buyer a higher amount than what the seller had requested and pocketing the difference.

While the bill is sponsored by Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook, it was presented on the House floor by Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R-Auburn.

“(This bill) addresses predatory practices that have started to exist in our real estate world,” Lovvorn said. 

The bill passed with a unanimous vote.

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