Martin: Finances focus for Alabama Legislature

Published 11:52 am Friday, March 24, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

More than 400 bills have been proposed in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Each one that makes it out of the initial committees will have one last hurtle before a vote by the entire House — the Rules Committee.

District 42 Rep. Jimmy Martin, who represents part of Chilton County, is on this committee.

“I tried for 14 years to get on that committee, and finally got on the committee. It’s a pretty powerful committee,” Martin said.

This committee also sets the agenda for the House session meetings.

Legislators are currently on a two-week break to coincide with school systems’ spring breaks.

This legislative session Martin is sponsoring a few legislative bills that he refers to as “corrective bills.”

Martin said he is sponsoring a bill for the Department of Revenue to remove the requirement for gas stations to have a bond for gas pumps. Instead, an inspection fee would be required. The Legislation has passed the House, and has gone to the Senate.

He is also sponsoring legislation to allow for the purchase of gap insurance on cars that are financed to pay the difference if the car is repossessed.

“We have passed the general fund budget. It has gone to the Senate. We don’t really know what the federal government is going to do as far as helping with Medicaid or anything else,” Martin said. “We are keeping a reserve for 2019 because we are going to wait and see what the federal government is going to do. A large portion of the general fund is being taken up by Medicaid and the prison system. We can’t hire anybody. We can’t give raises until we see what the federal government is going to do as far as any monies coming out of Washington.”

He said finances are tight for the state.

A gas tax increase has been discussed to increase funding for roads.

“I do plan to vote for it. I don’t like taxes. It will affect me in my business, but also I’m tired of dodging potholes,” Martin said.

The proposed increase would be 6 to 8 cents per gallon. Martin said it is estimated that $15 million of this revenue would go to counties.

In addition to the Rules Committee, Martin serves on three other committees:  commerce and small business, financial services and insurance.

Martin said the financial services committee has discussed regulations on small loans interest.

“It is proposing capping the interest rate at either 34 or 36 percent,” Marin said.

The proposed legislation would also put any loans not already under the banking department under this department’s jurisdiction.

A pro-life bill is also being discussed.

“It has passed the House and is going to the Senate. It defines the time of conception as life,” Martin said.

If the bill passes the Senate and becomes law, Martin said there is a possibility it will be challenged in federal court.

The next meeting of the legislature will be the first Tuesday in April.