The Alabama Legislature convenes Feb. 7 for the 2017 Regular Session, but lawmakers have been meeting for months on legislation that could impact Alabama Farmers Federation members.
“Debates over the budgets and gambling, as well as other issues, led to the formation of a variety of working groups charged with studying issues and making recommendations to the governor and Legislature,” said Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs Director Brian Hardin. “We have been monitoring their work and developing additional background for our organization’s policy positions.”
Of special interest will be findings of the Joint Legislative Task Force on Budget Reform. The group has focused on five areas: unearmarking; tax credits, deductions and exemptions; the budgeting process; agency reviews; and tax relief.
One revenue bill likely to resurface this year is a fuel tax increase aimed at providing more money for county roads. Federation policy supports “increased and equitable funding for improving farm-to-market roads and bridges,” Hardin said.
Gov. Robert Bentley also is seeking recommendations on lotteries and gambling from the Alabama Advisory Council on Gaming. A proposed statewide lottery was defeated in an August special session when lawmakers couldn’t agree on how to spend lottery proceeds.
Legislation also could be proposed by the Alabama Board of Registrars Legislation Task Force, charged with examining the process for appointing and overseeing registrars, or the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group, which is evaluating statewide water policy.
Federation priorities include preserving Alabama’s property tax structure, including current use valuation for agriculture and forestry; opposing efforts to tax seed, feed and fertilizer; maintaining premium tax credits that encourage job creation and investment in Alabama; and securing funding for agriculture-related agencies and programs, including Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation registration fees and career and technical education.
For updates throughout the legislative session, follow @alfafarmers on Twitter and subscribe to the Capitol Connection newsletter at AlfaFarmers.org/about/sign-up-form.