State Senate approves bill to block occupational tax

Alabama Statehouse

The Alabama Senate gave final approval Thursday to legislation that would block cities from implementing new occupational taxes, setting up a potential legal fight with the city of Montgomery.

Senators voted 27-7 for the bill that would prevent cities from implementing occupational taxes without the approval of the Alabama Legislature. The bill would not repeal occupational taxes, but would prevent city councils from implementing new ones unless it is authorized through a local bill passed in the legislature. The bill now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey.

The measure comes as the city of Montgomery plans the 2021 implementation of an 1% occupational tax, a tax paid by those who work in the city, even if they do not reside there.

Supporters said commuters who live outside a city do not have representation on city councils. They argued the tax should involve local legislation at the Alabama Statehouse to ensure those living outside the city have elected representatives involved in the decision.

“We are allowing those affected by those taxes to have a voice,” said Republican Sen. Clyde Chambliss of Prattville.

Opposed lawmakers argued it was an assault on cities’ local control.

Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton said lawmakers were trying to play “Big Brother.”

“This is not right to take this tool way from a municipal government when there are (other) cities who already have it… Some in your district and none of you opened your mouths about it,” Singleton said.

The issue is the latest clash between cities and lawmakers over local control.

The bill follows legislative action in past years that blocked Birmingham from raising the minimum wage and majority-black cities from taking down, or altering, Confederate monuments.

Republished with the Permission of the Associated Press.