Simplifying process for businesses

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

By SLADE BLACKWELL / Guest Columnist

During the 2012 Alabama legislative session, I was proud to sponsor the ONE SPOT bill, which passed unanimously in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives.

The ONE SPOT bill allows businesses to file use, lease, sales and other taxes at one online portal through the Department of revenue. Before, some businesses had to submit up to 150 different tax filings each month.

While the ONE SPOT system is a great start, there is more that can be done to cut “red tape” on businesses and streamline other filings that a business is responsible for each year.

In an effort to continue to reduce the burden on business owners, I, along with the house speaker, have been looking at ways we can improve the purchasing and renewal of business licenses.

Currently, Alabama has an overly complicated and antiquated system of business licensing — there are 138 different state and county business licenses provided by statute that many businesses must purchase, including those to sell ice cream, calculators, playing cards, magic equipment, radios, glass, animal hides, and many others based on the type of product sold and occupation.

No other state in the Southeast requires the purchase of a business license for such a vast array of products and occupations.

Therefore, I plan to sponsor legislation in the 2013 Legislative Session to reduce the amount of state and county business licenses that most businesses are required to purchase. This legislation will also create an online system where all businesses can go to apply for, purchase, and renew all applicable state and local business licenses in one place — the “Business License ONE SPOT.”

This legislation will be like the first ONE SPOT bill in that it will reduce the administrative burden that most businesses must deal with.

I hope the Business License ONE SPOT will be met with the same support in the legislature as last session. I look forward to working more with other elected officials to show that Alabama is a business-friendly state so our businesses — large and small — can continue to thrive and so new industry will come here.

Slade Blackwell is serving his first term in the Alabama State Senate representing Jefferson and Shelby Counties in District 15. For more information about Slade, please or follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @sladeblackwell. To reach him by phone, please call 396-1144.