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Week 12: Alabama Legislative Report — May 15

Contributed by Beth Marietta Lyons
Lyons Law Firm

The Alabama Legislature convened in Session for Day 25 of the annual Regular Session on Tuesday May 9, held 31 committee meetings throughout the week, and convened in Session on Thursday for Day 26.

There have been 1025 bills introduced to date.

The Legislature will return to Montgomery on Tuesday May 16 for Legislative Day 27 (out of 30) of the Session with the House convening at 11:30 a.m. and the Senate convening at 2:00 p.m.

DURING THE WEEK

A Jefferson County Circuit Judge ruled this week that Alabama’s workers’ compensation law is unconstitutional. The Judge found two provisions of the workers’ compensation law – – the $220 a week cap in compensation for injured workers and the 15% cap on attorney’s fees unconstitutional and, because the provisions of the law are not severable, the entire act was declared to be invalid. Although the court gave the Alabama Legislature 120 days to act to cure the law, the Legislature is set to adjourn its Regular Session next week.

SIGNIFICANT FLOOR ACTION THIS WEEK

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The House spent the majority of the week in extended debate and a formal reading of a 500-plus page bill that would provide for the reapportionment and redistricting of the state House districts. When the reading of the bill at length completed late Thursday evening, the House passed the bill with the votes along party lines. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB571 by Representative Randy Davis].

The House concurred with the Senate amendments to the $1.846 billion General Fund Budget bill for fiscal year 2018 that includes approximately $100 million from the BP settlement, would level fund most state agencies, allocate $701 million to the Medicaid Agency, and reduce funding for the Governor’s office. The bill now goes to the Governor [HB155 by Representative Steve Clouse].

The House appointed conferees to a joint conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate on a Senate bill, known as the “Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017,” that would prohibit, without a multi-stage process and approval from a state committee, the removal or alteration of statues and monuments on state, city, and county properties and prohibit the removal and renaming of buildings, schools, streets, bridges [SB60 by Senator Gerald Allen].

The House passed a bill that would extend eligibility for incentives under the Alabama Jobs Act to December 31, 2023 and exempt megaprojects from the $850 million aggregate cap on incentives if they create at least 500 jobs or make a capital investment of $100 million or greater. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB574 by Representative Alan Baker].

The Senate amended and passed a House bill that would reestablish the income tax credit, which expired in 2016, for the rehabilitation, preservation or development of certified historic structures. The amended version would set aside credits for smaller counties and limit credits to structures 60 years or older. The bill now returns to the House for action on the Senate amendments [HB345 by Representative Victor Gaston].

The Senate and the House have agreed to appoint a conference committee to resolve the differences in the Education Trust Fund Budget bill. The Senate conferees are Senators Orr, Ross and Marsh and the House conferees have yet to be appointed [SB129 by Senator Arthur Orr].

The Senate passed a bill that would specifically provide that the rental of any portion of a hotel, motel, etc. which is not used as sleeping accommodations would not be subject to the lodging tax. The bill now goes to the House [SB395 by Senator Trip Pittman].

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The Senate passed a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would require any tax credit, exemption, deduction or preferential tax rate enacted beginning with the 2019 Regular Session of the Legislature to expire within 5 years from the effective date of the act unless extended by an act of the Legislature. The bill now goes to the House [SB405 by Senator Bill Hightower].

The Senate passed a bill that would provide that a municipality would be responsible for half of the housing, maintenance and medical care expenses of a child under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court if the child resides within a municipality with a specified population and to provide that the law enforcement agency in whose custody a child is initially held or detained is responsible for all transportation costs. The bill now goes to the House [SB324 by Senator Phil Williams].

The Senate passed a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would require the Governor and Lt. Governor to be elected jointly, remove the Lt. Governor as the president of the Senate, and provide that the sole duty of the Lt. Governor would be to succeed the Governor upon his removal from office. The bill now goes to the House [SB371 by Senator Gerald Dial].

The Senate passed a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would allow the display of the Ten Commandments on property owned by the state. The bill now goes to the House [SB139 by Senator Gerald Dial].

The Senate passed a bill that would prohibit colleges, universities, local boards of education and public schools from using public funds or public property to advocate for or against ballot measures. The bill now goes to the House [SB101 by Senator Arthur Orr].

The Senate passed a bill, known as the “Ban the Box 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 House [SB200 by Senator Quinton Ross].

SIGNIFICANT COMMITTEE ACTION THIS WEEK

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The House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would authorize counties and municipalities to create an authority for the purpose of acquiring real and personal property for lease to the state as a prison facility, authorize the Department of Corrections to issue bonds up to $350 million for renovation of existing prison facilities, and pledge a portion of ad valorem and spirit taxes to secure the bonds [SB302 by Senator Cam Ward].

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a House bill that would allow transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft) to be regulated by the Public Service Commission rather than local governments. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB283 by Representative David Faulkner].

The House Judiciary Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would authorize either House of the Legislature to issue subpoenas during impeachment proceedings, and would provide for the enforcing of the subpoenas and penalties for failure to comply with a subpoena. The bill now goes to the full House [SB366 by Senator Phil Williams].

The House Ways and Means Education Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would extend, indefinitely, income tax credits for homeowners and businesses who participate in neighborhood revitalization projects through Neighborhood Infrastructure Authorities. The bill now goes to the full House [SB229 by Senator Trip Pittman].

The House Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would require a sex offender over the age of 21 convicted of certain sex offenses against a child 12 or younger to be chemically castrated before his or her release from the Department of Corrections. The bill now goes to the full House [HB497 by Representative Steve Hurst].

The House Judiciary Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would shorten the time for an appellant to file petitions for post-conviction remedies in death penalty cases. The bill now goes to the full House [SB187 by Senator Cam Ward].

The House State Government Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would provide that a right of redemption cannot be exercised later than one year after the date of the foreclosure. The bill now goes to the full House [HB567 by Representative Kerry Rich].

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The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would allow for the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption in a specified community development district. The bill now goes to the full House [SB336 by Senator Steve Livingston].

The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would allow a Class 5 municipality to authorize a retail ABC Board licensee to sell alcoholic beverages in a designated area within an Entertainment District including an area that is not adjacent or connected with the main licensed premises. The bill now goes to the full House [SB352 by Senator Del Marsh].

The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would authorize the use of electronic systems for the assessment and collection of tolls. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB421 by Representative Steve McMillan].

The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would levy an additional coal severance tax on underground mining and surface mining with the proceeds earmarked for operation of the Surface Mining Commission. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB468 by Representative Kyle South].

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would require the Ethics Commission to remove all identifying information from Statements of Economic Interests of law enforcement officers and district attorneys before making them available to the public. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB334 by Representative Mack Butler].

The Senate Judiciary Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a House bill that would allow a midwife who holds current midwifery certification from an organization accredited by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence to practice midwifery in the State of Alabama. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB315 by Representative Ken Johnson].

The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a House bill that would require health benefit plans to offer coverage for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder for a child age nine or under for certain group insurance plans and contracts. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB284 by Representative Jim Patterson].

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The House Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would make genital mutilation of a female under the age of 19 a Class B felony. The bill now goes to the full House [HB537 by Representative Rod Scott].

The House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would provide for the reapportionment and redistricting of the state Senate districts for elections in 2018. The bill now goes to the full House [SB403 by Senator Gerald Dial].

The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would require religious or faith-based boarding schools or facilities that house children to be registered and inspected by the Department of Human Resources and to perform criminal background checks on employees and potential employees. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB440 by Representative Steve McMillan].

The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would terminate the adoption and implementation of the standards commonly known as the Common Core Standards or Alabama College and Career Ready Standards and direct the State Board of Education to replace the courses of study in place immediately prior to the adoption of the Common Core Standards. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB415 by Senator Harri Anne Smith].

The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would eliminate the 36 month limit for Legislators and the Lt. Governor to continue his or her coverage under the State Employees’ Health Insurance Plan if the member served at least two full four-year terms in office. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB408 by Senator Tom Whatley].

The Senate Constitution, Ethics and Elections Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would authorize a municipality to rehire a retired law enforcement officer or firefighter at any time if authorized by local law and upon notice to the Director of the Ethics Commission. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB222 by Representative Allen Treadaway].

The Senate Local Legislation Mobile County Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a House Mobile County Local bill that would prohibit the Mobile County Health Department from regulating or requiring a permit for intermittent food service establishments that otherwise do not prepare, sell, or distribute food in its regular line of business when that food service establishment prepares or distributes food in association with a regional celebratory event or custom. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB528 by Representative Margie Wilcox].

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BUDGETS

The State General Fund Budget, House Bill 155, sponsored by Rep. Clouse, has been passed by both Houses of the Legislature and is pending action by the Governor.

The State Education Trust Fund, Senate Bill 129, sponsored by Sen. Orr, has been passed by both Houses, but is pending action in conference committee.

SIGNIFICANT BILLS ENACTED

SB79 Sen. Pittman: Relating to Baldwin County; to authorize the county commission to levy an excise tax on the business of selling, distributing, storing, or withdrawing from storage gasoline or motor fuel and substitutes in the county not to exceed three cents per gallon.

HB185 Rep. Buskey: Relating to entertainment districts in Class 2 municipalities; to further define the licensed premises of a holder of a retail liquor license.

SB136 Sen. Melson: To change the annual sales tax holiday from the first Friday in August to the third Friday in July

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SB95 Sen. Pittman: To clarify the process for calculation, distribution, and retention of excess funds held by a county following the sale of real estate for taxes

SB16 Sen. Brewbaker: To prohibit a judge from overriding a jury’s sentencing verdict in capital cases

HB230 Sen. Pringle: To empower any Class 2 municipality in the State of Alabama to authorize, by municipal ordinance, the operation of low-speed vehicles upon certain city streets of the municipality under limited circumstances and conditions.

SB32 Sen. Orr: To require students to pass a 100 question civics test, with certain exemptions, before graduating from high school or obtaining a high school equivalency diploma

HB98 Rep. Fridy: Constitutional Amendment; to support the rights of unborn children, namely the right to life, and would specify that the Constitution does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion

HB95 Rep. Mooney: To authorize health care providers to decline to perform services that violate their consciences

SB289 Sen. Glover: To repeal Act No. 82-675, 1982 1st Special Session, and Act No. 88-423, 1988 Regular Session, providing supplemental funding for certain salaries and expenses for the office of the District Attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Mobile County.

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HB23: Rep. Wingo: Known as the “Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act,” that would prohibit the state from taking adverse action against an adoption agency that declines to place a child in a situation that conflicts with its religious beliefs

SB4 Sen. Dial: To create a Legislative Services Agency which would consolidate Legislative Fiscal Office, Legislative Reference Service and the Alabama Law Institute under the new Agency

HB96 Rep. Butler: Known as the “Assisted Suicide Ban Act,” that would prohibit a person or health care provider from providing aid in dying to another person

SB345 Sen. Melson: To authorize counties to establish an agriculture authority to promote agricultural businesses, operations, commodities, workforce development and economic development within the county

SUMMARIES

  • Bills introduced: 1,025
  • Bills which have passed houses of origin: 447
  • Billes which have passed both houses: 171
  • Bills which are pending Governor’s signature: 69
  • Bills which have been vetoed: 0
  • Constitutional Amendments pending referendum: 5
  • Bills enacted: 97
Written By

DIG DEEPER