Senate President Pro Tem speaks about important Business Council of Alabama tax, school issues (VIDEO)

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh spoke to the Business Council of Alabama’s Governmental Affairs Committee today and addressed Taxpayers Bill of Rights II legislation and Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, commonly known as Common Core.

Marsh, R-Anniston, said he has “no issue” with updating the 1992 TBOR law by passing HB105. It’s on the Senate calendar when the Legislature reconvenes today. The House passed the bill by Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, on a vote of 97-2. It was amended in the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability Committee.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m ready to bring it to the floor as soon as possible,” Marsh said. “There’s no holdup on my part.”

The BCA on Monday released an action alert asking members to urge
senators to pass HB105 and move it to final passage and to Governor
Robert Bentley for his consideration. The BCA app, BCA Connect, has contact information for Alabama’s legislators and can be downloaded for free from iTunes.

TBOR II would update the original, 22-year-old TBOR, abolish the Department of Revenue’s Administrative Law Division, and change it to an independent Alabama Tax Appeals Commission within the executive branch. The bill would allow local governments the option of using this tax appeals commission or their existing appeals process to settle local tax disputes. A majority of states (31) have passed some version of this legislation.

Members of the Alabama business community have joined forces with the BCA in support of the legislation under the banner of the Business Associations’ Tax Coalition (BATC), which includes 27-member business and trade associations.

Attempts to pass this legislation stretch back to the late 1990s. Over the years, the legislation has not been enacted for various reasons, including anti-business leanings of previous legislatures, misunderstandings, erroneous conclusions, apathy concerning the bill, and even simple bad luck.

Turning to education, Marsh said Common Core education standards in math and English enable Alabama to attract new industry whose decision makers want to know if Alabama’s schools are teaching common basics and whether potential employees have been well educated.

“One way to get people to come to your state is to convince them we have the skill-set they need,” Marsh said. “Common Core is one way to get there.”

He asked members of the BCA Governmental Affairs Committee to urge senators not to co-sponsor legislation to repeal Common Core standards.

“That is one issue that should be solved by the state school board,” Marsh said, adding that local boards of education “are doing the right thing” by supporting Common Core.

Last week the BCA restated its support for the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards as adopted by the State Board of Education.

“For months, the board has addressed every complaint lodged by opponents of Alabama’s standards, including increasing the protection of student personal data and rescinding the Memorandum of Understanding between Alabama and the National Governors’ Association,” BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said.

Canary said the federal government has not taken over Alabama’s education system and there’s no way that the elected State Board of Education would allow that to happen.

“We remain united with Alabama’s business, education and military communities as we move forward with offering our children a brighter future, regardless of the zip code in which they live,” Canary said. “We welcome all those who strive for a better Alabama to stand with us.”

The Alabama State Board of Education twice has addressed Common Core since its passage in 2010. The latest was two weeks ago when it passed local changes to the nationalized standards for English and math.

“This adoption affirms the consistent message of the State Board of Education members and the state superintendent of education that the governance and approval of academic standards remains with the State Board of Education,” the state education department said in a statement. 

In November, the board rescinded an outdated, nonbinding agreement with the Common Core State Standards Initiative, hoping to confront allegations that the board has surrendered control of its standards to out-of-state entities, reported.

Marsh said it’s his goal to conclude legislative business in the 2014 regular session as soon as possible in order to allow legislators time to go home and campaign for the June primaries.

-Dana Beyerle