Legislative Rules Committee Chairs Foresee March Session End

Senate and House Rules Committee chairmen Sen. Jabo Waggoner and Rep. Mike Jones today said they expect the 2018 regular legislative session to end in March, a month earlier than usual because of the June election primaries.

Sen. Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, and Rep. Jones, R-Andalusia, spoke at today’s Business Council of Alabama’s Governmental Affairs Committee’s Tuesday briefing, which is held each week during regular legislative sessions.

L. Waymond Jackson Jr., senior vice president public policy for BCA member Birmingham Business Alliance, which sponsored today’s briefing, introduced Sen. Waggoner and Rep. Jones.

The BBA is an economic development organization headquartered in Jefferson County that concentrates on Birmingham and the surrounding region but also works on statewide development projects.

The 2018 legislative session begins its seventh legislative day today.

Regular legislative sessions can last no more than 30 working days within 105 calendar days, which would be April 23 this year. However, the session might end on March 26, nearly a month early.

“I’d be surprised if we go 105 days,” Sen. Waggoner said, who added that the two state budgets are priority items that are yet unpassed. “Within the next two or three weeks you’re going to see a lot of movement on the budgets.”

“I’m more than optimistic (about ending early), I’m driving it,” Rep. Jones said.  It’s been a rough three years and citizens of Alabama are ready for us to go home.”

Legislators want to end the session early due to the June 5 statewide political primaries. An April 23 session end would leave only about six weeks to campaign while a March ending would give candidates at least four more weeks to campaign.

House and Senate Rules Committees set the session agendas by assigning bills to special order calendars.

Sen. Waggoner said he expects the first bill on today’s Senate special order calendar will be SB 149 by Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville. The bill if it becomes law will encourage rural Internet access by offering income tax breaks to broadband businesses.

Today’s proposed House special order calendar includes two bills that are part of the business community’s agenda.

The ride-sharing bill, HB 190 by Rep. David Faulkner, R-Birmingham, would establish uniform operating regulations for Transportation Network Companies such as Lyft and Uber.

HB 170 by Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, would amend the existing Alabama Workforce Council by revising its membership and limiting the number of members to 35.

Next Tuesday’s scheduled briefing speaker is Senate Finance and Taxation Committee Chairman Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.