Monday, Tuscaloosa Mayor and Democratic candidate for governor, Walt Maddox claimed that passage of HB317 is not necessary to recruit jobs to the state and urged incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey to veto the bill.
“Tuscaloosa recently worked with MBUSI (Mercedes Benz) on a $1 Billion expansion that will create 600 new jobs,” Maddox said. “To bring one of the few electrical vehicle plants in the world to our community took effort, commitment, and partnership. What it didn’t take was HB317. Kay Ivey must find the political courage to veto this bill.”
Ivey has praised the legislation in a statement following House passage on Thursday.
“The passage of House Bill 317 enables Alabama to remain on a level playing field with other states, as we compete for job creating capital investments,” Ivey said. “Our ability to attract highly sought after economic development projects is vital to ensure that Alabama continues to experience record-low unemployment. This legislation makes clear that we are committed to attracting world-class jobs for all Alabamians. I appreciate the work of the entire legislature in passing this bill. I am especially thankful to Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, Senator Phil Williams and Representative Ken Johnson for their leadership in ensuring the strength of our ethics laws, while keeping Alabama’s doors open for business recruitment and new jobs.”
Major provisions of the bill, as amended by the Senate, will expire after April 2019. The Legislature has appointed a task force to review Alabama’s ethics laws and will have a report for the 2019 legislature. The Legislature is expected to determine what the legal definition of economic developer is and what relationship, if any, they have with lobbying for incentives and other corporate giveaways.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, if passing HB317 with it sun setting in just 13 months actually brought more confusion to economic developers in the state.
McCutcheon said that passing HB317 was necessary because not doing so would have cost the state major projects that are currently being negotiated.
Some in the media, and some in the legislature, have suggested that HB317 could potentially weaken Alabama’s ethics laws. Economic developers have told APR that they could not operate in Alabama if they had to disclose whom they were working for as most major corporations don’t want their competitors to know their plans.
The 2018 major party primaries for governor and other offices are being held on June 5.