House Speaker Mike Hubbard on Tuesday (Jan. 21) told the Business Council of Alabama’s Governmental Affairs Committee that he is proud of the House’s pro-business accomplishments and his goal is to protect the business-friendly House in the 2014 election cycle.
Hubbard, R-Auburn, the first Republican House speaker in 136 years, spoke at the BCA’s Governmental Affairs Committee’s weekly pre-legislative session briefing.
The House and Senate on Tuesday began their second work week of the 2014 Legislature, the final one of the four-year quadrennium in an election year for legislators and state constitutional officers.
Hubbard became speaker in 2010 when voters elected a supermajority of Republican to both the House and Senate. He and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, who formed and operated their own companies, listened to business and promoted private-sector friendly legislation.
“Our No. 1 objective from day one was to make Alabama business-friendly,” Hubbard said. “We have done that and are continuing.”
Hubbard said there is a plan to protect the pro-business Republican majority in both houses during the June primaries when election challenges to incumbents are expected and in the November general election.
“This Legislature obviously is a conservative, pro-business, and pro-private sector Legislature,” Hubbard said. “We will be protecting those and hopefully will put up a few more.”
Hubbard said the Legislature’s first week was “very productive” and actually resulted in the passage of more bills than anticipated.
They included HB105, the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, by Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood. The BCA actively supports this bill, known as TBOR II, which would update the 1992 Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights law and would conform to federal law and promote tax fairness and compliance.
The House passed the bill on Thursday and is on the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability Committee’s agenda scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday. Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, has the Senate version, SB74. It’s scheduled for a public hearing at Wednesday’s Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability Committee meeting.
The bill also would create a tax appeal tribunal independent of the Alabama Department of Revenue and would allow local governing bodies the option of using this tax appeals commission or their existing appeals process to settle local tax disputes. The legislation has been a BCA priority for several years and got a boost this year when it became part of the House Republican Caucus’s “Commonsense Conservative” legislative agenda.
The House also passed and sent to the Senate the Small Business Tax Relief Act by Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise. Moore’s HB 151 raises the threshold for sales taxes that a business must pay in advance from $1,000 per month to $2,500 per month. The House bill was assigned to Senate Committee on Finance and Taxation Education. The Senate passed its own version of this bill.
Also passing the House last week was the Business Tax Streamlining Act, HB 108, by Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery. It would create a new, online filing system for business personal property taxes. The bill was sent to the Senate for consideration.
The House passed and sent to the Senate another business-friendly bill, the Tax Elimination Act, by Rep. Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville. Patterson’s HB97 would give the Alabama Department of Revenue the authority to suspend taxes and fees when the cost of collecting the tax exceeds the amount of tax to be collected.