By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Another plank in the Alabama House Republicans Caucus’s ambitious “We Dare Defend Our Rights” Agenda passed the Alabama House on Tuesday when the Red Tape Reduction Act was passed by a 92 to 0 vote.
Alabama State Representative April Weaver (R) from Shelby County is the sponsor of the legislation which would allow a business owner to challenge any future administrative law implemented by any Alabama state agency. The Red Tape Reduction Act requires that each state agency must prepare an economic impact analysis prior to the adoption of any proposed regulation which might have an adverse impact on small businesses. A legislative council would hear both sides and then would decide whether or not that state regulation would be implemented or not.
Rep. Weaver said that currently new regulations are announced in the Alabama Administrative Monthly. The Red Tape Reduction Act would publish new regulations on a web site in real time. The Act would give businesses an opportunity to say that a regulation would adversely affect their business and challenge it to the state. The state agency would then have to prepare an economic analysis of how much the new regulation would cost the Alabama economy and how it would positively affect Alabama public as a whole.
Representative Merika Coleman Evans (Rep. Coleman was married last month) (D) from Birmingham said, “It sounds like it is really giving the businesses a voice in their own business.”
Weaver said that the Act applies to future regulations and does not retroactively apply to administrative law already in place. Weaver said that the bill, “Gives businesses the opportunity to say wait a minute,” to changes that could adversely impact them.
Rep. Coleman Evans had some questions about the overturning a proposed regulation process. Coleman Evans said that people with Alabama agencies are experts in their area and questioned if members of the legislature are qualified to overturn an administrative law. “What expertise do we have to tell experts at an agency are wrong?”
Rep. Joe Knight (D) from Montgomery said that he wanted to expand the bill to include the public as well as businesses.
Rep. Rod Scott (D) from Fairfield said, “Regulations have a place in our society because they have improved our society.” Scott said that the slant appears to be how it affects business not how it affects society as a whole.
Rep. Weaver said, “The intent is certainly not to negatively impact any regulation that is going to positively affect the public.”
Rep. Jim McClendon (R) from Springville said, “When an agency brings forward new rules or regulations sometimes they don’t understand the economic impact of those rules. I want to thank you (Rep. Weaver) for bringing it (the bill) forward.”
House Democrats asked numerous questions of Representative Weaver but appeared at times to simply be stalling for time to delay the process so that the more controversial School Flexibility Act (which is opposed by many House Democrats and the powerful Alabama Education Association) did not have time to be introduced in Tuesday’s session. At one point during the debate, Rep. Alvin Holmes (D) from Montgomery attempted to introduce a resolution for the state of Alabama to call on the Catholic Church’s Cardinal of Cardinals to select a Black Pope. Speaker Mike Hubbard (R) told Holmes that his resolution was not germane to the topic being debated, but that if he wanted to get some co-sponsors for his resolution it could be introduced at a later time.
Rep. Alvin Holmes called the Red Tape Reduction Act a bad bill, but still did not vote against it.
After the debate ended, the Red Tape Reduction Act passed 92 to 0.
The unanimous vote is another victory for the Alabama House GOP Caucus. Speaker of the Alabama House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said, “As promised, the House Republican Caucus is fighting to defend the rights and values that Alabamians hold dear. It is tough work when you’re fighting against the broken status quo, but I am confident we will win these battles and do what is right for Alabama.”