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First-time homebuyer savings account renewal bill passes

HB 171, the bill renewing the First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Program, received final passage from the legislature earlier this month. With a vote of 25-0, senators moved the bill forward, sending it to the governor for her signature. Alabama Realtors thanks the bill sponsors Representative Kyle South (R-Fayette) and Senator Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) for carrying the bill through both chambers, as well as Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, for placing the bill on the Senate calendar. Members of the association were also vocal in their support of the bill.

Morgan County Association of Realtors stated in a Facebook post why this bill matters:

“In 2018, the Legislature passed this Act, creating a Savings Program to help Alabamians save money to purchase their first home and allowing first-time homebuyers and those who have not owned or purchased a home for at least 10 years to save up to $5,000 (individuals) and $10,000 (couples) per year, tax-free, in a designated savings account at authorized banking institutions across Alabama. Under that Act, new accounts will no longer be allowed after early 2023.

House Bill 171 will renew the 2018 Act for five more years and extend the time account holders can have an account from five to ten years. This is crucial in today’s market with few houses and skyrocketing costs to give additional time for Alabamians to save.”

Other Updates

A couple other bills of note have updates. A bill to reduce the minimum business privilege tax charged by the state to LLCs and other companies passed both chambers earlier this month. HB 391, sponsored by Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), reduces the business privilege tax for relevant companies that pay the minimum owed (i.e., make $80,000 or less) to $50 for 2023 and $0 after 2023. You can read more about this bill in an earlier Capitol News and Notes, an Alabama Realtors publication, here.

A three-bill package aimed at expanding broadband accessibility and speeds to underreached and unreached areas of Alabama passed the legislature. For several years, a Rural Broadband Coalition, including the Alabama REALTORS, has advocated for the expansion of broadband within the state. The COVID-19 pandemic further emphasized the need, with many working from home and children needing access in order to participate in school. The three bills are a continuation of that effort. One of the bills is a constitutional amendment that voters will see on the ballot this year and, if passed, will allow local governments to provide grants from federal dollars to private companies to expand broadband.