First it was alive. Then it was dead. Then it was alive again. And now …
A bill that would allow Jefferson County to reinstate its lost occupational tax might have been poisoned again Tuesday. The House County and Municipal Government Committee moved the bill to the full House, but not before adding an amendment the bill’s supporters believe is illegal.
The amendment, proposed by Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, would exclude residents from other counties from an occupational tax. Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, told Wood that she had already explored that possibility and had been told it was illegal under the Alabama Constitution. Wood said that he would rather let the courts make that decision.
Both Todd and Senator Jabo Waggoner pleaded with the committee to pass a clean bill to the House for a vote, but the committee approved the amendment over their objections.
“I don’t like parts of this bill, but we are in a dire, dire … this is our last hope,” Todd said.
If Todd is right, it would once again hang a legal sword of Damocles over the county’s head. Twice already the state courts have killed the occupational tax because of actions by the Alabama Legislature.
“Pray to God that we do not have another natural disaster in Jefferson County,” Waggoner told the committee. “I don’t know what we would do.”
Wood said that it was unfair to tax people who didn’t live in the county. Todd said that if people did not like the tax, they could always get jobs in other counties.
Rep. Jack Williams, who sponsored the bill in the House, said he would talk to Speaker Mike Hubbard this afternoon. It is possible that the amendment could be taken off by the full House, if it has the votes. Otherwise, it would be up to a legislative conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
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