MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Legislature, including a majority of Republicans, on Thursday gave final passage to a bill that will allow state agencies to increase their own fees without a vote of the legislature. The Senate concurred with House changes first thing Thursday morning, and the bill will now head to the Governor’s desk.
Alabama House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) issued a statement after the House vote Wednesday lashing out at Republicans for their tactics.
“It’s amazing that Republicans are trying to pass the buck and hide behind a bill that will raise your fees!” Ford wrote. “A fee is just another word for tax, and Senate Bill 216 would allow for unlimited fee increases. Instead of doing the job they were elected to do, the Republicans are trying to shirk their responsibilities by shifting the burden, and avoid raising taxes by making government agencies raise fees. That’s not just bad policy; it’s plain gutless and cowardly!”
The bill allows agencies to increase their own fees by as much as 2 percent a year, but can be retroactive for the last 10 years. In other words, if the consumer price index shows a 2 percent per year increase over the last decade, agencies can immediately bump up their fees by 20 percent.
Everything from driving and hunting licenses, to marriage licenses and anything else the state charges a fee to use will be eligible for these fee increases.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015