Sheriff’s offices report revenue losses as ‘constitutional porting’ bill takes effect
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (AS TO) – Sheriff’s offices in northern Alabama reported losing a major source of revenue after the state’s new “constitutional porting” law went into effect Jan. 1.
This new law means that Alabamians are no longer required to purchase a permit from the local sheriff’s office for legal concealed carry. While the law provides funding to help sheriff’s offices recoup their losses, they say it’s not enough. With inconsistent sales, they don’t know what to expect in terms of revenue this year.
News 19 spoke to several local sheriff’s offices who said there was a drop in permit sales last year before the new law took effect – some agencies lost more than 30% of their licensing fees.
“It affects what we are able to do operationally,” Morgan County Sheriff Ron Puckett said.
Of the five counties that provided numbers, all say they lost revenue from permit sales when 2022 numbers are compared to 2020 numbers.
The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said they lost about $87,000. Madison County reported more than $647,000 in lost revenue, while Morgan County lost more than a quarter million, Lauderdale County lost about $105,000, and Franklin County about $38,000. dollars.
That’s roughly over a million dollars in lost revenue.
The new law only includes a $5 million grant program to cover the entire state. However, to receive a grant, sheriffs must demonstrate a loss of revenue from permit fees with only 2022 as the baseline year.
Sheriffs told News 19 that this does not reflect their historical sales.
“It started to affect us last year and 22, because the number of gun licenses sold fell about 30% last year, so we were already feeling the slump,” Puckett continued.
The money received from this license covers major operational expenses such as equipment, vehicles and training.
“We use the money for almost all of our operations, from training and uniforms to equipment, vehicles and ORS. [school resource officers],” he continued. “Almost every aspect of the operation of the sheriff’s office was [paid for by] gun license.
The Alabama Association of County Commissions (AACC) says the loss of funding makes things much harder for smaller counties.
“Counties don’t have the capacity to generate revenue and so if we are 30% short of gun license revenue, either those functions are set aside or not performed, or you have to take money from a other function of county government for cover,” said AACC Executive Director Sonny Brasfield. “Quite honestly, we don’t think any of those options are viable.”
This is an impact that also carries over into the New Year.
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said it sold about 700 fewer permits this month than the same time last year.
Huntsville-area Rep. Rex Reynolds says the legislature failed to take into account that people would stop buying permits so quickly.
“What we didn’t think about was that apparently after the 2022 session a lot of people misinterpreted the law and it happened immediately,” Reynolds explained. “They [stopped] buy gun permits.
“In fact, the bill only came into force on January 1, 2023,” he continued. “So we have to go back and fix that, because it certainly impacted law enforcement in Alabama. We don’t want to do that.
In March, sheriff’s offices can begin applying for grant funds to compensate for lost revenue.
The Legislature also begins its session in March, and spokespersons for sheriff’s offices and county commissions have announced plans to ask the Legislature to review the year used to calculate and refund permit sales.
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