Mobile Area Association of REALTORS®

January Governmental Affairs Update

Welcome to the first 2024 issue of the Governmental Affairs Update!

In this issue, we will be covering a wide range of topics, including updates on legislative developments, analysis of key policy initiatives, and insights into the workings of government at all levels. We have been monitoring the latest developments closely, and we are excited to share our insights with you.

As we continue to navigate a complex and rapidly changing political landscape, we believe that staying informed and engaged is more important than ever.

City of Mobile

In the works

The City of Mobile has 23 projects lined up for 2024, totaling $2.4 million.

They are as follows: 

  • Langan Park West Lake Spillway Repairs
  • Azalea City Golf Course – Pump House Repairs
  • Copeland-Cox Tennis Center – Security Cameras
  • Lafayette Heights Historical Park – Gate Entrance
  • Langan Park – Boathouse, Pavilion, & Visitor Center
  • Taylor Park – Pool Repairs
  • 200 Government Street – 2nd Floor West – Flooring Replacement
  • Africatown Welcome Center – Furniture
  • Animal Shelter – Entry Gate Security Systems
  • Ben May Main Library – Parking Lot Security Cameras
  • Dearboarn YMCA – Re-Roofing
  • Fire Training Facilities – 2024 Annual Inspection
  • Gulf Coast Exploreum – HVAC Upgrades
  • Harold L. Johnson Police Headquarters – Painting
  • Harold L. Johnson Police Headquarters – Window Repairs
  • History Museum of Mobile – Chiller Replacement
  • Mobile Museum of Art – Exterior Repairs
  • Mobile, Alabama Cruise Terminal -Parking Deck Repairs 2023
  • Traffic Division (Old 1st Precinct) – Re-Roofing
  • Virginia Dillard Smith (Toulminville) Library – Re-Roofing
  • Western Administrative Complex – Chiller Replacement
  • Western Administrative Complex – Re-Roofing 

Click here to see the Capital Improvement Dashboard. 

Mobile City Council

The Mobile City Council spent most of the new year rezoning parcels of newly annexed land. A good number of parcels were rezoned. You can view their newly zoned areas below: 

R-1 to R-3

  • Orchard Estates: 24 parcels 
  • Cottage Hill Corridor: 30 parcels 

R-1 to B-1

  • Kings Branch Annexed Area: 3 parcels
  • Cottage Hill Corridor Annexed Area: 22 parcels

R-1 to LB-2

  • Kings Branch Annexed Area: 4 parcels
  • Cottage Hill Corridor Annexed Area: 5 parcels

R-1 to B-2

  • Cottage Hill Corridor Annexed Area: 157 parcels

R-1 to CW

  • Orchard Estates Annexed Area: 90 parcels
  • Cottage Hill Corridor Annexed Area: 4 parcels

The council also approved to accept a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sutainability & Equity (RAISE) in the amount of $5 million to support planning and pre-construction activities in the Old Water Street area of Mobile’s western front. 

Looking forward, the City Council approved the Community Development Block Grants for a total of $3.3 million to go towards the City of Mobile’s different programs. Below you can find the breakdown of the funds: 

  • Administration – $550,000
  • Section 108 Payment – $220,000
  • Float Loan Program – $1 million
  • Housing Rehabilitation – $979,786
  • Residential Rehabilitation Loans – $100,000
  • Microenterprise Loan Program – $50,000
  • Blight Removal – $450,000

The city will also receive $993,507 to go towards their HOME Investment Partnership Programs and $209,600 towards the Emergency Solutions Grant. In total, the city will gain $4.8 million to go towards housing programs. 

This Action Plan is the second installment within the City’s overall five-year “2023-2027 Consolidated Housing and Community Development Plan,” and establishes projects for the next Program Year from May 1, 2024 through April 30, 2025, to be funded with assistance from the following three programs which are funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

To view all of the properties which may be torn down by the city, click here

To view all City Council Agendas and Minutes, click here

Mobile County Commission

Recent Action Taken: 

  • Approved an amendment to the HOME agreement with Legacy Trail, LP, ragarding the development of 56 units of senior housing in conjunction with Alabama Housing Finance Authority Tax Credits to extend the term for HOME loan repayment from 120 days after construction completion to 210 days. 
  • Approved a no cost grant amendment to extend the period of performance for the Northwest Satsuma Water and Sewer Project. 
  • Approved a contract with dakinstreet architects to perform an assessment of a county owned historic structure in Africatown. 
  • Approved an addendum to the Mobile County Commission’s Citizen Participation Plan for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funded programs to address specific requirements associated with Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding. 
  • Approved the application for Rebuild Alabama Act Annual Grant Program funds through the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) in the amount of $350,000, for safety improvements on approximately 2.0 miles of Celeste Road and approximately 3.6 miles of Schillinger Road South. 

State Updates

The Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature convened early last week. The legislature can meet up to 30 days over the next 105 calendar days and must finish by May 20.

Legislative leadership has indicated that the legislature will have two breaks in March, including a “district work week” for members the week of March 11 and spring break the week of March 25.  

Big Issues Expected to Dominate the Legislative Session:

Each legislative session, the Governor and legislative leadership identify priority issues that they expect to focus on during the session. Highlights from the Senate Republican Caucus agenda include election security; school choice; and capping annual property tax increases.

Highlights from the House Republican Caucus agenda include streamlining state government, promoting made in Alabama products, and keeping Alabama the most business-friendly state in the nation.

Highlights from the House Democratic Caucus include expanding workforce participation; eliminating obstacles to voting; and expanding Medicaid. 

Property Tax Caps – REALTOR® Priority Bill Filed:

To prevent homeowners from being taxed out of their property, a REALTOR®-supported bill was filed to place a cap on annual increases. Rep. Phillip Pettus (R-Killen), filed House Bill 73, which will cap annual increases of the property tax assessment for homes and agricultural land at 3% and for commercial and non-utility owned property at 5%. These caps will prevent massive increases and encourage accurate and up-to-date annual assessments by tax officials. 

Gaming Update – REALTOR®-Supported Language Included:

A topic of conversation for years, this year’s iteration of gambling is a two-bill package totaling about 150 pages. One bill is a constitutional amendment that would allow gambling in Alabama, and the second bill, called enabling legislation, lays out all the laws on gambling. Included in the enabling legislation is REALTOR®-supported language that prohibits political contributions from those involved in the gambling industry. This language is intended to minimize corruption and provide a perceived and actual ethical backstop for the industry. 

The proposed constitutional amendment would allow a state lottery, a total of 10 casino sites (an additional 7 from the existing 3 owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians), sports betting, and a compact with the Poarch Band. Constitutional amendments require a 3/5s vote in each chamber before it will then be on the ballot for voters to decide. The governor does not sign constitutional amendments in Alabama. 

In addition to the REALTOR®-supported language, the enabling legislation establishes a gaming commission and a lottery commission to oversee the different types of gambling. Tax revenues would be split between local governments and the state, with revenues to the state from casinos and sports betting supporting the General Fund Budget and from the lottery supporting education.

This year, the gambling bills start in the House, after prior years’ efforts have stalled in that chamber despite passage out of the Senate. 

National Updates

NAR submitted 2 letters to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) expressing concerns about the new Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act rule and how it may impact real estate professionals.

NAR is requesting that DOL delay implementation until the agency issues additional guidance. NAR has also requested industry-specific guidance that considers the Internal Revenue Code carve-out for real estate agents, and that recognizes state laws governing how real estate professionals should be classified.

NAR commented on an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (AS02) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the VA’s minimum property requirements (MPRs). The MPRs are intended to ensure that VA borrowers have safe and secure housing, but REALTORS® have observed that they can put VA buyers at a disadvantage.

NAR recommends adopting a framework of minimum standards similar to those of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to eliminate confusion and competitive disadvantages.

NAR wrote to the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on their proposed amendments to bank capital standards for large banks, also known as Basel III Endgame. The letter urges the agencies to repropose or retract the amendments, especially given the lack of statistical analysis and support for the proposed changes.

For future issues of the Governmental Affairs Update, click here.