Alabama House Republicans on Thursday, December 5, released their 2014 agenda that is heavy on business-friendly legislation that would streamline and even lower or eliminate some taxes for job creators.
At a State House news conference, House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, and about eight Caucus members said the “Commonsense Conservative” agenda for 2014 represents “the conservative beliefs and principles that Republicans embrace.”“They continue the record of fundamental reforms, constitutional rights protections, and pro-business, job-growth initiatives that Republicans have passed since taking control of the Legislature almost four years ago,” Hubbard said. The Alabama House and Senate are controlled by Republicans.
Hubbard also said that the House Republican Caucus is working on a “major” workforce development initiative that will be announced as the Jan. 14 start of the 2014 legislative session nears.
The proposed bills include the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, the Small Business Tax Relief Act, the Business Tax Streamlining Act, the Tax Elimination Act, and the Alabama Taxpayer Audit Protection Act. Other proposed measures include the Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act, the Adoption Tax Credit, the Revolving Door Act, and Statutory Immunity for Teachers and State Employees.
The House previously has passed versions of a Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. Hubbard said the important bill will be sponsored by Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood. The legislation would ensure that taxpayers are protected by an independent tax appeals hearing process and more taxpayer-friendly procedures.
“Similar bills have overwhelmingly passed the Alabama House over the last three years, and given its importance, House Republicans are making it a priority in making it a part of the 2014 legislative agenda,” Hubbard said.
The Small Business Tax Relief Act to be sponsored by Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, would increase the payment threshold from $1,000 to $2,500 for businesses that are required to make monthly estimated tax payments. Hubbard said the bill would provide a one-time tax cut for about 6,000 small businesses and return $4.6 million into the economy.
The Business Tax Streamlining Act to be sponsored by Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, will create a new online tax filing system for one-stop tax filing and allow businesses that claim $10,000 or less in business personal property to file a short form that does not require property itemization.
Rep. Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville, will sponsor the Tax Elimination Act that would authorize the Alabama Department of Revenue to suspend taxes and fees when the cost of collecting them would exceed the amount of revenue gained. Hubbard said an example would be now-negligible revenue from the tax on iron ore.
The Alabama Taxpayer Audit Protection Act by Rep. Wayne Johnson, R-Ryland, would protect Alabama taxpayers against State Department of Revenue targeting certain non-profit groups based on their political or cultural agenda as the federal Internal Revenue Service has done, Hubbard said. The ADOR is not targeting groups but Johnson’s bill, if it becomes law, would make it a criminal act for a future DOR to target groups, Hubbard said.
The proposed Revolving Door Act would prohibit legislators who become lobbyists from lobbying both houses of the Legislature for two years instead of the current prohibition against lobbying their former legislative body solely.