Continuing to assist small businesses

Published 11:56 am Tuesday, October 15, 2013

By SLADE BLACKWELL / Guest Columnist

Many of you may remember reading about legislation that I sponsored and passed last session called Business ONE SPOT.

The purpose of the bill was to remove red tape and make it easier for businesses to file and remit sales and use taxes at one location online. I am going to take this a step further this session with a goal of encouraging economic growth throughout Alabama.

I met with several of my legislative colleagues in Montgomery last week to discuss new legislation — the Alabama Business License Reform Act — that I am sponsoring in the upcoming session. We have created a Business License Reform subcommittee to make recommendations for improving these laws for businesses in Alabama.

Under current law, only certain businesses must obtain state and county business licenses. Many of the existing licenses are for antiquated endeavors while certain other businesses, such as IT firms, are not even required to obtain the business license. This can be very confusing and, in turn, makes doing business in Alabama more difficult.

We should be doing everything we can to support businesses in our state. The Business License Reform Act will simplify Alabama’s business license laws by eliminating more than 100 existing state and county business licenses.

Instead, this will make obtaining a business license simple and fair — every business with a location in Alabama will have to obtain a state business license.

Additionally, this legislation will also eliminate all existing county business licenses authorized by a local act, but would allow each county to impose a flat business license fee on each location a business has in that county. We feel this will be easier for both the businesses and the county.

Similar to last year’s ONE SPOT legislation, this bill calls for the Department to create an online system which businesses would be able to use to obtain their state business license, and eventually, all county and municipal business licenses, as well.

If we can continue to streamline the way businesses have to deal with government bureaucracy in Alabama, I believe we can not only improve existing businesses but also encourage others to locate here in the future.

Slade Blackwell is serving his first term in the Alabama State Senate representing Jefferson and Shelby counties in District 15.