Daily Tax Report: State provides authoritative coverage of state and local tax developments across the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, tracking legislative and regulatory updates,...
By Chris Marr
Nov. 3 — Hundreds of local Alabama tax measures, alcohol sales laws, bond financings and other acts could face litigation unless voters agree to fix a quirk of legislative procedure, according to supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment.
Amendment 14, up for a vote on the Nov. 8 ballot in Alabama, is designed to protect all previously approved local legislation from being overturned in court. A circuit court judge did exactly that in December 2015, overturning a Jefferson County sales tax measure on the grounds that the Legislature didn’t follow legal procedure to pass the bill.
“There’s an awful lot of local legislation that runs through the state Legislature,” said Will Sellers, a tax attorney with Balch & Bingham in Montgomery and chairman of the state’s Fair Ballot Commission.
“It’s anybody’s guess the potential impact this has,” Sellers told Bloomberg BNA on Nov. 2.
The problem with the Jefferson County sales tax measure stems from the way the state House passes budget isolation resolutions (BIRs), which it must pass alongside any bill that comes up before the state’s annual budget has passed. The House allows BIRs to pass with a three-fifths majority of the members voting—which is often only a handful of members on local bills—as opposed to the state constitution’s requirement of three-fifths of a quorum of representatives.
“The amendment validates over 600 local acts, dealing with all sorts of subjects across the state, that were passed by the Alabama Legislature over the span of 30 or so years,” Bruce Ely, a tax attorney with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Birmingham, told Bloomberg BNA on Nov. 2.
Sen. Cam Ward (R), who sponsored the legislation putting Amendment 14 on the ballot, said on his website the bills potentially at risk cover “sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes, court costs, pistol permit fees, Sunday alcohol sales, annexations and dozens of other matters.”
Jefferson County has appealed the ruling in its sales tax case to the Alabama Supreme Court. Ely, who’s also a member of Bloomberg BNA’s State Tax Advisory Board, predicted the court “would love to dodge the bullet” of having to decide that case.
An opponent of Amendment 14, state Rep. John Rogers (D), called it a conspiracy to combat the circuit court’s ruling. The underlying tax measure the court overturned was an “unconstitutional effort to take Jefferson County’s school tax money and use it for non-school purposes,” he said in a statement of opposition attached to the state’s ballot summary online.
Rogers’ district includes Birmingham, which is the seat of Jefferson County, and he is also a party to the lawsuit seeking to overturn the Jefferson County sales tax measure.
Alabama’s statute of limitations protects most previously passed local bills, leaving only two bills at risk of being overturned, Rogers said. One is the Jefferson County tax bill, and the other is a bill that authorized a referendum on a one-cent sales tax to build a hospital in Chilton County.
The Chilton County tax measure also faces pending litigation, although the hospital, St. Vincent’s Chilton, has already been built.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Marr in Atlanta at cMarr@bna.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan C. Tuck at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 Tax Management Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)