By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, February 2, Business Council of Alabama (BCA) Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Blackwell presented Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) with the Business Champion Award on behalf of the BCA and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is the US Chamber of Commerce’s Alabama affiliate.
Speaker Hubbard said in a statement, “Honored to receive the Business Champion Award from the Business Council of Alabama this morning. Being pro-business is simply the right thing to do, by creating jobs we grow the economy which brings in the revenue needed to help fund the essential services of government. Looking forward to the passage of even more business-friendly legislation this year.”
Speaker Hubbard promised the group that three Business Council of Alabama-supported pro-business legislative items will get swift House action in the 2016 regular session that began today in Montgomery.
Theses BCA’s 2016 agenda items include: HB 36, the Small Business Act sponsored by Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette), HB 37, the right-to-work constitutional amendment sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Birmingham), and HB 38, the Taxpayer Advocate bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Tuggle (R-Alexander City).
On Wednesday HB 36 will be addressed by the House Commerce and Small Business Committee. HB 37 is on the House Constitution, Campaigns & Elections Committee agenda for Wednesday. HB 38 will be on Wednesday’s House State Government Committee agenda.
Speaker Hubbard said, “We want to move our agenda quickly.”
Tuesday’s BCA meeting where Hubbard addressed the corporate group was sponsored by Blue Cross-Blue Shield (BCBS) of Alabama.
HB 36 would give businesses with less than 75 employees a $1,500 income tax credit for every new full time employee it adds to the payroll. Banks would get a financial institution excise tax credit. The bill would also authorize an additional $1,000 income tax credit if the new employee is a recently returning, unemployed veteran under the 2012 Heroes for Hire Act.
HB 37 would make Alabama’s Right to Work law a constitutional amendment if voters approved it in the November election ballot.
Hubbard said, “It would make our status in the Constitution as a right-to-work state hard to change.”
HB 38 would shift the appointing authority of the Alabama taxpayer’s advocate from the Department of Revenue to the governor and remove the requirement that the advocate be a Department of Revenue employee. The bill requires the Taxpayer Advocate to promote the interests of taxpayers and would require the Department of Revenue to maintain a public website for the Taxpayer Advocate separate from the revenue department.
Hubbard told BCA, “I can assure you that the pro-business legislation is designed to grow our economy.”
Several legislators and some members of the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee have suggested that Hubbard should step down from his powerful House leadership position while he remains under indictment for 23 criminal counts of ethics violations. In many states an indicted Speaker of the House would have to step down, in Alabama he gets awards from corporations.
Hubbard said, “This pro-business Legislature is doing the right thing for Alabama.”
The 2016 Alabama Legislative Session began on Tuesday, February 2.
Original reporting by the BCA’s Dana Beyerle contributed to this report