By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–During a conference call last Thursday Governor Robert Bentley informed the House and Senate sponsors of the Alabama Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights II legislation that he would pocket veto the bill.
The bill, which would have set up an Alabama Tax Appeals Commission separate from the Alabama Department of Revenue had receive broad support from the business community.
Lawmakers on the call appealed to the governor to let the bill stand and that changes would be made at the next legislative session. But Bentley would not relent.
The bill had been championed by the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and was widely recognized as a much-needed reform in the tax assessment appeals system.
Bentley’s press secretary, Jennifer Ardis, said yesterday that the governor refused to sign the Taxpayers Bill of Rights II because it had been passed with mistakes in it.
Supporters of SB 549 said that because of the lateness of the hour on the last night of the session mistakes were made by the legislative legal services. The sponsors of the bill said that the mistakes were easily fixed but the governor remained steadfast in his rejection.
The bill had overwhelming support passing 33-0 vote in the Senate and a 95-1 vote in the House of Representatives.
The only opponent of SB549 was the state’s revenue department according to the bill’s advocates.
They have also suggested that the governor is in a feud with BCA head Billy Canary.
Many have been perplexed by the governor’s office as they have seen promised support evaporate into thin air on many occasion during the legislative session.
One insider said, “I have seen the governor’s office make a deal with a legislator and then change their mind before he [the legislator] could cross the street to the State House.”
The sponsors of the bill, the President of the Alabama State Bar, and business associations across the state have pledged to work with the Governor’s staff to have the bill amended for the next legislative session.
Ardis said the governor is supportive of creating an independent tax appeals commission.
“The governor is committed to working with the business community to continue to streamline the tax administration and the appeals process, and will push for an enhanced bill of rights.”