Alabama Senate Committee passes grocery tax cut
House Ways and Means Education Committee Chair Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, listens during a session of the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (Stew Milne for Alabama Reflector)
A bill that would cut the state’s grocery tax moved closer to passage on Wednesday, but a senator said he expected it to change before a Senate vote.
HB 479, sponsored by House Ways and Means Education Chair Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, would cut the grocery tax on food eligible for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) to 3% on September 1. The rate would be reduced to 2% in 2025 if the Education Trust Fund budget, where the revenue goes, shows 2% growth.
“This is a grocery tax bill that we’ve all heard about and all but five members of the legislature co-sponsored,” said Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, who spoke for the bill in committee.
The bill passed on a roll call vote.
The House version of the bill also froze local grocery tax rates.
The grocery tax has received broad support from the lawmakers this year. All of the senators co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Jones.
Despite the support, the bill did not start moving until the end of the session. The bill needs one more day to pass, and there are two full days left in the session.
Jones told the senators that he is working on a substitute version of the bill, which he will bring to the Senate floor.
The senator said that the substitute’s impact on constituents would be the same. The bill would still cut the amount in half. Orr indicated there might be changes to the ETF growth rate in the bill, and that the revised legislation would incorporate changes requested by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA). A message seeking comment from ACCA was left on Wednesday.
He said there are conversations about cutting the entire tax in the future. A commission to study the grocery tax has been formed, and he said the commission will be a part of that discussion.
“So, our long term goal is to utilize that study commission, we’re taking it down in this legislation from 4% to 2%, we want to look and figure out how we can take it from 2% to zero,” Jones said.
The bill goes to the full Senate.
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