Commission gives update on Alabama legislative session

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, April 10, 2024

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Chambers County Commissioner Sam Bradford gave an update on the Alabama legislative session at Monday’s Commission meeting. Bradford is the representative for the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA) which works with state representatives on behalf of the counties. 

With the 2024 legislative session over two-thirds of the way through, Bradford discussed three relevant bills.

Senate Bill 240 and its companion, House Bill 359 if passed would allow for individuals dealing with mental illness along with a substance abuse disorder to be involuntarily committed should they meet the criteria. 

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The bills aim to treat substance abuse medically rather than legally. If “individuals suffering from a substance use disorder that occurs secondarily to a primary diagnosis of one or more mental illnesses,” is arrested they will go to the probate or circuit judge to decide if they should be sent to a mental health facility, the bill states. 

Jails and prisons have long been crowded with those suffering from substance use disorders. If arrested and found to meet the criteria to be committed, the criminal charges would temporarily be suspended until the commitment order is fulfilled.

Due to the bill’s language acknowledging substance abuse as a mental health disorder, it opens up treatment funds.

“[The bill] allows local governments to partner with the State in utilizing opioid settlement dollars to fund treatment for those suffering from co-existing mental health and addiction issues,” Bradford said. 

Another bill discussed was House Bill 270 which deals with Alabama tax sales and tax lien auctions. The bill would update the state law to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court requirements. It would allow homeowners to have some options to negotiate property tax debts. This allows for the property owner to have certain rights during a foreclosure sale and clarifies the process. Any surplus from the sale would also go to the original property owner or heirs.

“​​This bill would provide that an owner who is unable to redeem his or her property or the tax lien certificate…would have an opportunity to receive the difference between the amount owed to the government and the value of their property, as reflected by the property’s sale price,” the bill states. 

HB270 was passed unanimously in the House and is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate. 

The last Bill Bradford discussed was HB307 which would allow for partnerships of emergency services. Local 911 and emergency services would be able to pool resources with one another to jointly service the areas they cover. 

Bradford said the bill could “strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of 911 services for local citizens.”