A Decatur lawmaker said December's school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has her re-thinking a gun show bill she's previously sponsored.
Republican Terri Collins, in both the 2012 and 2011 legislative sessions, got through the House a bill that would change state law to clarify that at gun shows, it is the show organizer — not individual vendors — who must pay a business tax.
Collins has said gun shows won't come to some municipalities because local tax collectors want to tax each participant. Other cities don't do that, she said, and Decatur is missing an economic development opportunity.
Her bill has never made it out of the state Senate, and Collins had previously said she'd try again in 2013. But last week, she said she is reconsidering the bill in the wake of the school shooting that left 28 people dead.
"In this given environment, I'm probably holding back on (the bill) at this time," Collins said. "I need to better understand what background checks are done (at gun shows)."
Licensed gun dealers are required in Alabama to perform a background check, but private sales between individuals do not require a formal background check, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Meanwhile, Alabama has no law imposing a waiting period prior to the purchase of a firearm.
It is the state, and not local governments, that has authority over guns shows. According to Alabama Code: "No county or municipal corporation … shall regulate in any manner gun shows, the possession, ownership, transport, carrying, transfer, sale, purchase, licensing, registration or use of firearms, ammunition, components of firearms, firearms dealers, or dealers in firearm components."
State Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, wants people who produce methamphetamine in rented or illegally entered spaces to have to pay for damages they cause.
Greer has pre-filed for the legislative session that starts in February a bill that provides "an additional sentence of five years of imprisonment without parole, probation, or a suspended sentence for the manufacture of methamphetamine on rented property and would require an individual operating a clandestine drug laboratory to pay all reasonable costs associated with remediating the site where the laboratory was located."
Many of the ingredients that go into meth — battery acid, lye, drain cleaner, antifreeze and other chemicals — are corrosive and poisonous. The process of "cooking" meth allows chemicals to seep into a home or apartment's walls, carpets and furniture.
"Most people are too smart to make meth in their own house," Greer said.
He said there have been incidents of people using hotels or even local campgrounds to make the drug.
"They just need a place to make meth," he said. "The biggest problem is the hotels."
A document from the Environmental Protection Agency said that meth lab clean-up costs can vary widely, from $5,000 to $150,000, depending on the size of the space and the amount of contamination.
Greer said he had a rental property destroyed by someone making meth.
"It cost around $65,000 to get (the apartment) cleaned," he said. "You have to have everything destroyed, that's why it's so expensive."
Greer said he has previously introduced a similar bill, but recently worked with the Alabama District Attorneys Association to improve House Bill 20.
"We made a much better bill than we had last year," he said.