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Legislature

2020 Legislative Session Week 1 report

The Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Alabama Legislature began its annual Regular Session on Tuesday, February 4. As the annual Session is limited by law to 30 session days within a 105 calendar day period, the Session must conclude by May 18, 2020. Generally, the Legislature meets in Session on Tuesday and Thursday of each week with Wednesday as the major day for committee meetings.

Prior to the Session convening at noon, the Fiscal Office Director of the Legislative Services Agency presented budget projections to Legislators. He indicated that there will be approximately $400 million more than last year in the General Fund for the 2021 Budget for a total of approximately $2.6 billion. The Education Fund has seen an increase as well and should be at approximately $7.5 billion. The budgets to be considered by the Legislature during this annual session are for fiscal year 2021 which runs from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.

Governor Kay Ivey addressed the Legislators Tuesday evening in her 3rd annual State of the State address. Her agenda for this session includes a $1 billion bond issue for K-12, community college and university construction projects, and a proposal for a 3% raise for K-12 and community college teachers and a 2% pay raise for state employees.

Recognizing that it has been almost 14 years since Alabama made an investment in schools, she indicated the school bond money would be used for much needed capital improvements for new construction, safety improvements, and technology upgrades but will not include any legislative earmarks for pet projects.

The Governor then referenced her proposal to construct three new prisons for men to allow for the transition from warehousing facilities to facilities focused on rehabilitation. The US Justice Department has threatened for a number of years to take over management of the state prison system.

She also stressed a proposal to address mental health issues which would involve three new crisis centers and is proposing money in the budget for those to be built. She projected that those centers would become a safe haven for people facing mental health challenges without being sent to jail or a hospital.

The Governor urged Legislators to slow down on any new proposals for gambling indicating that she would create a working group by executive order to study the potential impacts of a lottery and casino gaming which would include the estimated income and any financial and social costs for those endeavors.

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She indicated her executive order would be issued in the next few days and would provide that the committee would report by the end of this year. She also referenced that she had not discussed the Poarch Band of Creek Indians proposal with any of their representatives and would not do so until the study commission had completed its report.

358 bills were introduced in the first two Session days.

The Legislature will return to Montgomery on Tuesday, February 11 for Day 3 of the Session with both Houses convening at 2:00 p.m.

SIGNIFICANT INTRODUCTIONS:

HOUSE:

To repeal various state taxes and levy instead a single rate comprehensive consumption tax (House Fiscal Responsibility Committee) [HB4 by Representative Mike Holmes].

To transfer the Marine Police Division from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee) [HB9 by Representative Chris Sells].

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To require a motor vehicle dealer to disclose to the consumer any portion of the finance charge received by the dealer in connection with providing financing for the purchase (House Financial Services Committee) [HB10 by Representative Becky Nordgren].

To reduce the term of office for county board of education members from 6 to 4 years (House Education Policy Committee) [HB15 by Representative Andy Whitt].

To require a child care facility to call a child’s parent or guardian if the child does not arrive at the center by 9:30 a.m. and hasn’t been reported absent (House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee) [HB16 by Representative Randy Wood].

To create the State Transportation Commission to coordinate and develop the activities of the Department of Transportation (House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee) [HB19 by Representative Chris Pringle].

To designate the third Saturday in June of each year as Juneteenth National Freedom day to commemorate the abolition of slavery throughout the US in 1865 (House State Government Committee) [HB26 by Representative Thomas Jackson].

To require each county to provide at least one early voting center to be open for a period of 14 days during the week immediately preceding election day (House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee) [HB30 by Representative Thomas Jackson].

To prohibit public K-12 schools from participating in, sponsoring, or provide coaching staff for interscholastic athletic events at which athletes are allowed to participate in competition against athletes who are of a different biological gender (House State Government Committee) [HB35 by Representative Chris Pringle].

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To standardize a process by which concealed carry permits may be issued statewide and would create a state concealed carry permit information system (House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee) [HB39 by Representative Proncey Robertson].

To authorize the Baldwin County Commission to levy a tax not greater than 10% on the sale of hemp products, alternative nicotine products, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (Baldwin County Legislation Committee) [HB43 by Representative Matt Simpson].

To include mental disease or disorder that arises out of and in the course of employment in the term occupational disease for purposes of workers’ compensation (House Ways and Means General Fund Committee) [HB44 by Representative Matt Simpson].
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To clarify that no separate retail license is needed for sales at a winery or tasting room (House Economic Development and Tourism Committee) [HB52 by Representative Laura Hall].

To update sections of the code related to statutorily exempt entities to include only those that have obtained and are retaining a current certificate of exemption as required by law (House State Government Committee) [HB64 by Representative Chris Pringle].

To authorize a municipality or county to establish a local redevelopment authority for property that is contiguous to an active US Air Force military installation. (House Ways and Means General Fund) [HB66 by Representative Thad McClammy].

To increase the fees for issuing permits in the regulation of of the manufacturing, sale, display of fireworks, and for the use of pyrotechnics before an audience with 5 percent of the total fee going to the Alabama Firefighters Annuity and Benefit Fund (House Insurance Committee) [HB69 by Representative Kerry Rich].

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To prohibit the operator of a motor vehicle from using a wireless communication device in any manner that would require the operator to physically hold the device (House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee) [HB74 by Representative Koven Brown].

To require an employer, including state agencies, to use specified guidelines to determine whether a worker is engaged in employment for purposes of employment benefits and tax liabilities (House Commerce and Small Business Committee) [HB77 by Representative Wes Kitchens].

To authorize a judge of probate, district judge, or circuit judge to carry a pistol openly or concealed in a courtroom, courthouse, courthouse property, and within his or her office (House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee) [HB79 by Representative Tim Wadsworth].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment to provide that a person charged with a Class A felony, when the proof is evident or the presumption is great, and if no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm, be denied bail before conviction (House Judiciary Committee) [HB81 by Representative Chip Brown].

To prohibit any institution, group, association, conference or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics from preventing any student from earning compensation for the use of the student’s name, image or likeness, or from obtaining professional representation (House State Government Committee) [HB82 by Representative Kirk Hatcher].

To establish the Alabama Research and Development Act that would provide for a research and development tax credit to certain Alabama companies (Ways and Means Education Fund Committee) [HB109 by Representative Danny Garrett].
To designate the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Alabama Aquarium as the official Aquarium of Alabama (House State Government Committee) [HB110 by Representative Chip Brown].

To redesignate common fireworks as consumer fireworks and provide for the regulation of consumer fireworks (House Economic Development and Tourism Committee) [HB112 by Representative Chip Brown].

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To provide for additional offenses that would require mandatory denial of bail (House Judiciary Committee) [HB113 by Representative Chip Brown].
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To raise the minimum age for the purchase, possession, or transport of tobacco products, or of electronic nicotine delivery systems or alternative nicotine products, from 19 to 21 (House State Government Committee) [HB119 by Representative Barbara Drummond].

To repeal the certificate of need program and abolish the state agencies, councils, and boards that exist to operate the certificate of need program (House State Government Committee) [HB126 by Representative Andrew Sorrell].

To provide for electronic publication of public notices on a public notice website operated by the Secretary of State, and allow counties and municipalities to opt out under certain conditions (House State Government Committee) [HB128 by Representative Andrew Sorrell].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment to provide for electronic publication of local legislation (House State Government Committee) [HB129 by Representative Andrew Sorrell].

To provide for the voluntary transfer of a case from a municipal court to the county district or circuit court when the defendant qualifies for a pretrial diversion program, mental health court, drug court, veterans’ court, or similar program (House Judiciary Committee) [HB163 by Representative Jim Hill].

To prohibit the Attorney General or a district attorney from presenting a suspected ethics violation by an individual subject to the code of ethics, other than a member or employee of the commission, to a grand jury without a referral by the commission (House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee [HB179 by Representative Mike Ball].

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To increase the salaries of public education employees by 3% (House Ways and Means Education Committee) [HB188 by Representative Bill Poole].

SENATE:

To repeal certain restrictions on the carrying and possession of a firearm on certain property on in a motor vehicle by persons with or without a concealed pistol permit (Senate Judiciary Committee) [SB1 by Senator Gerald Allen].

To provide for the expenditure of funds received by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, pursuant to the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, for coastal conservation, restoration, and protection (Senate Governmental Affairs Committee) [SB3 by Senator Chris Elliott].

To establish an income tax credit for eligible taxpayers who pay toll fees to certain toll roads, bridges, or tunnels that are constructed with public funds (Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee) [SB4 by Senator Chris Elliott].

To reduce the term of office for county board of education members from 6 to 4 years (Senate Governmental Affairs Committee) [SB9 by Senator Sam Givhan].

To expand the expungement of criminal records to include convictions of certain misdemeanor offenses, traffic violations, municipal ordinances, and felony offenses (Senate Judiciary) [SB14 by Senator Cam Ward].

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To standardize a process by which concealed carry permits may be issued statewide and create a state concealed carry permit information system (Senate Judiciary Committee) [SB 47 by Senator Randy Price].
To authorize the governing body of a Class 8 municipality with an incorporated arts council, main street program, or downtown development entity that is located primarily on an island to establish three entertainment districts within its corporate limits (Senate Governmental Affair Committee) [SB48 by Senator Chris Elliott].

To require governmental bodies to adopt rules allowing each citizen to inspect and take a copy of any public record upon request made in accordance with this act (Senate Government Affairs Committee) [SB57 by Senator Cam Ward].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment to provide that all individuals are entitled to reasonable bail prior to conviction, except for offenses enumerated by the Legislature by general law (Senate Judiciary Committee) [SB59 by Senator Cam Ward].

To provide for additional offenses that would require mandatory denial of bail (Senate Judiciary) [SB60 by Senator Cam Ward].
To require electronic monitoring for release on bail for certain offenses (Senate Judiciary Committee) [SB76 by Senator Cam Ward].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment to abolish the Office of State Auditor and transfer duties and responsibilities to the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts (Senate Governmental Affairs Committee) [SB83 by Senator Andrew Jones].

To provide that if an AdvantageSite economic development site is annexed by a municipality or is located in the police jurisdiction of a municipality, an employee employed on the site would not be subject to any occupational license tax (Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development) [SB85 by Senator Andrew Jones].

To authorize a winery or an organization comprised of grape growers and wineries to obtain a license from the ABC Board to hold a wine festival where wineries may provide tastings and sell wine (Senate Tourism) [SB87 by Senator Andrew Jones].

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To provide that tickets to entertainment events may be originally sold with resale and transfer restrictions only if the ticket seller also offers the option of purchasing the same tickets without resale and transfer restrictions (Senate Tourism Committee) [SB91 by Senator Bobby Singleton].

To eliminate the requirement that a licensed physical therapist may only perform physical therapy, except in limited circumstances, based on a referral from a licensed health care practitioner (Senate Healthcare Committee) [SB104 by Senator Jim McClendon].

To require all business license and permit applicants who employ one or more persons to prove enrollment in E-Verify prior to the issuance of the license or permit (Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee) [SB107 by Senator Arthur Orr].

To prohibit a public official, agency of the state, municipality, or county from intentionally adopting a policy or practice that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws (Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee) [SB108 by Senator Arthur Orr].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment to provide that a person charged with a Class A felony, when the proof is evident or the presumption is great, and if no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm, be denied bail before conviction (Senate Governmental Affairs Committee) [SB 119 by Senator David Sessions].

To prohibit candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor and either House of the Legislature from soliciting or accepting contributions from any person he or she knows or should have known is an owner or operator of any gaming or pari-mutual wagering operations in the state (Senate Governmental Affairs Committee) [SB122 by Senator Jim McClendon].

To provide that any Class 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 municipality that does not create and adopt a municipal plan or is not executing its plan in good faith is ineligible to receive grants from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee) [SB124 by Senator Del Marsh].

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To expand the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 and the jurisdiction of the Committee on Alabama Monument Protection created by the act to include architecturally significant buildings, memorial buildings, memorial streets, or monuments that have been so situated for 40 or more years, and to revise penalties for violations (Senate Governmental Affairs Committee) [SB127 by Senator Gerald Allen].

To create and fund the General Fund Budget Reserve Fund and provide for the withdrawal and use of the fund (Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund) [SB129 by Senator Clyde Chambliss].

To provide for the voluntary transfer of a case from a municipal court to the county district or circuit court when the defendant qualifies for a pretrial diversion program, mental health court, drug court, veterans’ court, or similar program (Senate Judiciary Committee) [SB136 by Senator Cam Ward].

To create the State Transportation Commission to coordinate and develop the activities of the Department of Transportation (House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee) [SB141 by Senator Chris Elliott].

To eliminate municipal authority beyond the corporate limits of each municipality and provide for a referendum to decide whether to reinstate police jurisdictions (Senate Governmental Affairs Committee) [SB142 by Senator Chris Elliott].

To redesignate common fireworks as consumer fireworks and provide for the regulation of consumer fireworks (Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee) [SB147 by Senator Tim Melson].

To require the Department of Transportation to complete and publically post an economic impact study related to the toll project prior to construction and prior to the public hearing (Senate Transportation and Energy Committee) [SB151 by Senator Chris Elliott].
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A proposed Constitutional Amendment to require a referendum before a proposed toll may be fixed, charged, or collected, for the construction, renovation, or use of a public road, bridge or tunnel project on an existing interstate highway or a section thereof (Senate Transportation and Energy Committee) [SB152 by Senator Chris Elliott].

To provide a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for state employees (Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee) [SB159 by Senator Greg Albritton].

 

Beth Lyons
Written By

DIG DEEPER