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In Case You Missed It

Week Three Legislative Report: The Legislature gets moving

Beth Lyons

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Contributed by Beth Marietta Lyons
Lyons Law Firm

The Alabama Legislature convened for day 5 of the annual Regular Session on Tuesday, January 23 with committee meetings held throughout the week. Both Houses then convened on Thursday, January 25 for Day 6.

There have been 554 bills introduced to date. Twenty-eight committees met to consider multiple bills.

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The Legislature will return to Montgomery on Tuesday, January 30 for day 7 of the Session with the House convening at 1:00 p.m. and the Senate at 2:00 p.m. Seventeen committees have scheduled meetings as of the time of this report.

Significant Introductions This Week

A bill was introduced in the House that would allow the governing body of any municipality within Mobile County, or the County Commission for unincorporated areas of the county, to authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption on Sunday commencing at 10:00 a.m. The bill is pending in the House Mobile County Legislation Committee [HB267 by Representative James Buskey].

A bill was introduced in the House that would make genital mutilation of a female under the age of 19 a Class D felony. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee [HB284 by Representative Connie Rowe].

A bill was introduced in both Houses that would require that a person must be convicted, as opposed to arrested, for violation of a criminal law subject to forfeiture before he or she can be compelled to forfeit assets [HB87 by Representative Arnold Mooney and SB 213 by Senator Arthur Orr].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would eliminate primary and general special elections to fill in-term vacancies in the Alabama Legislature by holding one election with one ballot listing all qualifying candidates, regardless of party, with the candidate who receives the most votes being declared the winner. The bill is pending in the Senate Constitution, Ethics and Elections Committee [SB208 by Senator Jim McClendon].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would increase the membership of the State Pilotage Commission from 3 to 4 with the 4th member to be a retiree from active duty in certain armed forces or active in the maritime industry. The bill is pending in the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee [SB222 by Senator Trip Pittman].

A bill was introduced in the House that would create the Alabama Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Patient Safety Act and would provide for the standardized education and demonstration of competency by medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals. The bill is pending in the House Health Committee [HB269 by Representative April Weaver].

A bill was introduced in both Houses that would revise the lodging tax to exclude certain rentals that are not for overnight accommodations from the lodging tax [HB291 by Representative Arnold Mooney and SB226 by Senator Paul Sanford].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment was introduced in the House that would provide for annual general sessions of the Legislature for non-budgetary matters and for fiscal sessions for revenue and appropriation bills for a biennial budget period. The bill is pending in the House Fiscal Responsibility Committee [HB292 by Representative Bill Poole].

A bill was introduced in the House that would provide for the implementation of biennial budgeting periods and change the statutory meeting dates of the Legislature in the event HB292 is approved in a referendum. The bill is pending in the House Fiscal Responsibility Committee [HB294 by Representative Bill Poole].

A bill was introduced in the House that would change the fiscal year of the state from October 1 through September 30 to July 1 through June 30 beginning July 1, 2019. The bill is pending in the House Fiscal Responsibility Committee [HB295 by Representative Bill Poole].

A bill was introduced in the House that would change the dates of notice of non-renewal and of non-tenure of teachers in the public schools of the state and the Alabama Community College System in the event HB292 is approved in a referendum to comply with biennial budgeting periods. The bill is pending in the House Fiscal Responsibility Committee [HB296 by Representative Bill Poole].

A bill was introduced in both Houses that would require the Department of Revenue to develop and make available a single point of filing and payment system for county and municipal motor fuel taxes, and require the standardization of county and municipal motor fuel taxes [HB298 by Representative Paul Lee and SB219 by Senator Shay Shelnutt].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require all districts responsible for the oversight of 911 emergency dispatch offices to require 911 emergency dispatch operators to be trained in the delivery of high quality telephone cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The bill is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [HB300 by Representative Connie Rowe].

A bill was introduced in the House that would provide for the regulation of tagging of oysters and require an annual oyster aquaculture license . The bill is pending in the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee [HB302 by Representative David Sessions].

A bill was introduced in the House that would further provide for the appropriation and pledge of certain tax revenues, motor vehicle license taxes and registration fees, diesel fuel tax revenues, motor carrier tax revenues. The bill is pending in the House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee [HB311 by Representative Margie Wilcox].

A bill was introduced in the House that would revise notification and confidentiality provisions governing certain economic incentives provided for by law and would clarity what incentives are subject to the notification requirements. The bill is pending in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee [HB317 by Representative Ken Johnson].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would require a member of the Legislature who enters into certain business arrangements with a client for which the member is compensated to seek preapproval from the Ethics Commission prior to receiving compensation under the arrangement; to provide a presumption that arrangements are appropriate and to provide guidance to the Ethics Commission in determining approval. The bill is pending in the Senate Constitution, Ethics and Elections Committee [SB221 by Senator Trip Pittman].

Significant Committee Action This Week

The House County and Municipal Government Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would authorize a county to use warrant funds on public facilities owned by a municipality located within the county. The bill now goes to the full House [HB148 by Representative Randy Davis].

The House Health Committee carried over a bill that would require abortion providers to provide a woman seeking an abortion with certain information prior to performing an abortion [HB52 by Representative Kerry Rich].

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would prohibit the State of Alabama, its agencies and its political subdivisions, excepting law enforcement agencies, from inquiring into an applicant’s conviction history for consideration of a job until after the applicant has received a conditional job offer. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB198 by Senator Bobby Singleton].

The House Judiciary Committee amended and assigned to a subcommittee for further consideration a bill that would make it a crime to prevent a person from making a public speech because of the content of the speech [HB94 by Representative Jack (JD) Williams].

The House Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would abolish the requirement that a marriage license be issued by the judge of probate; instead the marriage would be entered into by contract which would be recorded with the judge of probate following execution. The bill now goes to the full House [SB13 by Senator Greg Albritton].

The House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would provide that a person is not criminally liable for using physical or deadly force in self-defense or in the defense of another on the premises of a church [HB34 by Representative Lynn Greer].

The House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would give the Poarch Band of Creek Indians the power and authority to employ police officers for the protection of the reservation and the tribe [HB149 by Representative Randy Davis].

The House Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would abolish boards, commissions, committees, task forces and authorities that are inactive or inoperable. The bill now goes to the full House [HB22 by Representative Chris Pringle].

The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would add certain enumerated public officials and boards to the list of entities supported by the Alabama Workforce Council, and revise the membership of the Council. The bill now goes to the full House [HB170 by Representative Alan Baker].

The House Education Policy Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow teachers in grades K through 12 to use the Bible and other scripture to instruct students on religious history and other subjects. The bill now goes to the full House[HB114 by Representative Lynn Greer].

The House Education Policy Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would add 4 non-voting members to the State Board of Education consisting of the current and most recent past teachers of the year and one student delegate each elected by the then currently serving delegates to Alabama Boys State and Alabama Girls State; would also require the Superintendent of Education to employ an administrative director to act as a liaison between the superintendent and the State Board of Education. The bill now goes to the full House [HB70 by Representative Terri Collins].

The House State Government Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would provide that a business license is not required for a person traveling through a municipality on business if the person is not operating a branch office or doing business in the municipality. The bill now goes to the full House [HB107 by Representative Paul Lee].

The House Commerce and Small Business Committee amended, substituted and gave a favorable report to a bill that would prohibit municipalities from regulating transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft) and provide for permitting and licensing by the Public Service Commission. The bill now goes to the full House [HB190 by Representative David Faulkner].

The Senate Constitution, Ethics and Elections Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would limit State Senators and Representatives from serving more than 3 consecutive terms of office. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB127 by Senator Bill Hightower].

The Senate Constitution, Ethics and Elections Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would require that vacancies in the Alabama House and Senate be filled by appointment of the Governor if there are less than 2 years remaining on the term of office at the time the vacancy occurs. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB15 by Senator Rusty Glover].

The House Agriculture and Forestry Commission gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow the taking of whitetail deer or feral swine by means of bait with a baiting privilege license from the Department of conservation and Natural Resources. The bill now goes to the full House [HB21 by Representative Jack (JW) Williams].

Significant Floor Action This Week

The House passed a bill that would require the Governor to appoint a person to fill a vacancy in the US Senate and schedule an election at the next regularly scheduled General Election instead of calling a Special Election. The bill is now pending in the Senate Constitution, Ethics and Elections Committee [HB17 by Representative Steve Clouse].

The Senate confirmed 5 new members to the University of South Alabama Board of Trustees: William Ronald Graham, Steven H. Stokes, Margie Malone Tuckson, Steven P. Furr and Lenus M. Perkins.

The Senate substituted and passed a bill that would prohibit municipalities from regulating transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft) and provide for permitting and licensing by the Public Service Commission. The bill now goes to the House [SB143 by Senator Bobby Singleton].

The Senate passed a bill that would decrease the maximum amount of unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 14 weeks. The bill now goes to the House [SB92 by Senator Arthur Orr].

The Senate passed a bill that would allow qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry firearms in certain designated places where firearms are otherwise not allowed. The bill now goes to the House [SB27 by Senator Jimmy Holley].

The House passed a bill that would authorize the Care Assurance System for the Aging and Homebound and its affiliated local centers to participate in the Local Government Health Insurance Program. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB48 by Representative Kerry Rich].

The Senate passed a bill that would expand the adjusted gross income range allowable for a maximum standard deduction for Alabama individual income tax purposes. The bill now goes to the House [SB76 by Senator Del Marsh].

The House passed a bill that would require the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue to convene the first meeting of the Alabama Land Bank Authority Board and allow the Board to obtain the state’s interest in real property acquired as a result of its sale for delinquent state taxes and retained in the state’s inventory for a period of five or more years. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB54 by Representative Ron Johnson].

The Senate passed a bill that would provide for the voluntary transfer of a case from municipal court to the county district or circuit court when the defendant qualifies for a pretrial diversion program, mental health court, veteran court or similar program. The bill is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee [SB37 by Senator Cam Ward].

The House passed a bill that would specify that the Alabama Family Trust Corporation would take all steps necessary to comply with all rules of the Social Security Administration. The bill is now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee [HB30 by Representative Matt Fridy].

Budgets

The General Fund Budgets, HB156 sponsored by Rep. Clouse and SB178 sponsored by Sen. Pittman, are pending in the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee and the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, respectively.

The Education Trust Fund Budgets, HB175 by Rep. Poole and SB165 by Sen. Orr, are pending in the House Ways and Means Education Committee and the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee, respectively.

Summary

  • Bill Introcued: 554
  • Bills that have passed house of origin: 88
  • Bills that have passed both houses: 3
  • Bills that are pending the governor’s signature: 3

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In Case You Missed It

House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

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Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”

Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.

 

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In Case You Missed It

Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

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Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.

The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

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In Case You Missed It

Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

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Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.

Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

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Week Three Legislative Report: The Legislature gets moving

by Beth Lyons Read Time: 12 min
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