Week 8 of the 2019 Session

The Legislature completed three session days and concluded its 18th legislative day this week.  Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, with the support of Governor Kay Ivey proposed replacing the Alabama State School Board with a new board that would be appointed by the governor.

By the end of 18th legislative day, the Alabama House had filed 601 bills and the Senate 399 bills. The Business Council of Alabama continues to monitor and act on those that affect Alabama’s business community.

On Tuesday, the BCA’s Governmental Affairs Committee briefing featured Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper. Sen. Reed spoke about the shortage of skilled workers in Alabama, and in particular, the lack of truck drivers in the state and how that affects businesses being able to move their products. He discussed the BCA-supported legislation that would allow individuals to receive a commercial driver’s license at the age of 18 instead of having to wait until they are 21. Sen. Reed said in his district there are many individuals who are 18-years old and looking for a good opportunity to have a strong career, and he called the legislation a “great idea.”

His full remarks were broadcast on Facebook Live. If you missed it, like us on Facebook and watch the video.

Apprenticeship Bill Heads to Senate Floor

A bill aimed to streamline obtaining an apprenticeship and allow students to obtain certification in a skill/trade is working its way through the Senate. SB 358, Sen. Clay Scofield, R- Guntersville, will align training on a statewide level for workforce credentialing. If students receive occupational licensing or apprenticeship credentialing, it must be recognized as valid by any Alabama agency, board, or commission of the appropriate skill/trade. After passing the Senate Education Policy Committee by a vote of 6-0, the bill is pending its third reading.

Women’s Tribute Statues One Step Closer to Capitol

Statues of civil rights activist Rosa Parks and special needs advocate and author Helen Keller could soon be erected on the grounds of the Alabama Capitol. HB 287, Rep. Laura Hall, D- Huntsville, would create a Women’s Tribute Statue Commission to fund, commission, and place statues of Parks and Keller on the Capitol Grounds. The bill overwhelmingly passed both houses of the legislature and now goes to the governor for her signature.

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House Committee to Vote on Senate Lottery Proposal

After a public hearing in the House Economic Development and Tourism committee, an amendment was added to SB 220 that would split future lottery proceeds between the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund.

Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, who is handling the bill in the House, also sponsored the amendment which would give 75 percent of potential proceeds to the General Fund and the remaining 25 percent to the Education Trust Fund.

According to an article in The Montgomery Advertiser, this amendment may affect the bill being able to reach the Governor’s desk. If the bill passes the House with the committee amendment, it will either go to the Senate for concurrence or be hashed out in a conference committee.

The bill is a constitutional amendment that Alabama voters would have to approve in the March 3, 2020 presidential primary. Because it is a proposed constitutional amendment, it requires a three-fifths vote in each chamber.

SB 220 initially limited lottery games to paper and instant tickets, but an amendment was added to allow tickets to be purchased electronically. Video lottery games are not allowed.

Governor Ivey, Senator Marsh Introduce Bill to Appoint AL State Board of Education

Governor Kay Ivey delivered a letter to the State Board of Education on Thursday, emphasizing her commitment to improving Alabama’s education system. Calling the current process of electing Board members one that is “broken and desperately needs fixing,” the Governor outlined her support for legislation filed by Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, that would change the current model into an appointed board.

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Sen. Marsh’s bill, SB 397, through ratification of a constitutional amendment, would create the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education. This commission would be comprised of nine appointed members with staggered six-year terms who could only serve a total of two terms. This bill also would eliminate the current role of Superintendent of Education and replace it with a Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education.

According to a press release from Sen. Marsh’s office, Alabama is one of only six states with an elected school board. The states where students score the highest all have governor-appointed boards. Alabama’s surrounding states have this model as well.

Bills of Interest

  • HB 183, by Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, known as the Simplified Sellers Use Tax Part II, would provide for updates to the amnesty and class action provisions for eligible sellers and clarify transactions for which simplified sellers use tax cannot be collected and remitted. HB 183 received a unanimous favorable report from the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee and is currently pending its third reading.
  • HB 70, by Rep. David Standridge, R- Hayden, would provide a procedure for the deployment and investment of broadband infrastructure and other telecommunications services near the right-of-way of railroads, including railroad crossings. It was assigned to the House committee on Transportation, Utilities, and Infrastructure. After deliberation during a public hearing, a vote was not held.
  • HB 400, by Rep. Randall Shedd, R- Cullman, would authorize the placement, construction, installation, operation, and use of broadband and other advanced communication capabilities and related facilities within electric easements by electric providers. A substitute bill was adopted and favorably reported by the House Committee on Urban and Rural Development. After passing the house, it received its first reading in the Senate and has been referred to the committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development.
  • SB 222, by Sen. Tom Butler, R-Madison, would require all county superintendents to be appointed by the county board of education. The bill passed the House Education Policy Committee by a vote 9-4 and is currently pending its third reading.
  • HB 100, by Rep. Jim Carns, R-Vestavia Hills, would require plaintiffs in asbestos actions to file all available asbestos trust claims and produce all trust claims materials before trial. It passed the House by a vote of 102-0. After receiving its first reading in the Senate, it has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • HB 352, by Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, would place regulations on franchisors in an effort to prevent fraud and unfair business competition. Also known as the Protect Alabama Small Business Act, HB 352 received a public hearing before the House Commerce and Small Business Committee and received a favorable report. It is currently pending its third reading in the House.
  • SB 171, by Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, removes the tax provisions on meeting space and other accommodations that are not regularly furnished for overnight accommodations within a lodging facility. Taxes would still be collected on hotel rooms fees. It is pending a third reading in the Senate.
  • SB 23, by Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Fairhope, would provide that the police jurisdiction of a municipality would include only property in the corporate limits of the municipality. The bill passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on County and Municipal Government.
  • SB 129, by Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Fairhope, would regulate the conduct of franchisors and their representatives in an effort to prevent fraud, unfair business practices, unfair methods of competition, impositions, and other abuses upon franchisees in the state. It passed the Senate Government Affairs Committee by a vote of 9-1 and is currently pending its third reading.
  • SB 71, by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, would require any person who applies for a business license or permit from a municipality or county and who employs five or more persons to prove enrollment in E-Verify prior to issuance of a business license or permit. After receiving a favorable report from the Senate Government Affairs Committee, it is currently pending its third reading.
  • SB 90, by Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, would amend the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act to expand the definition of an “unserved area” eligible for grant funding, increase the percentage of project costs eligible for grant funding, and broaden the permitted use of other federal and state support. SB 90 passed the Senate 27-0. After receiving its first reading in the House, it was referred the committee on Ways and Means Education.
  • SB 78, by Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, would establish the Alabama Innovation Act to provide for research and development enhancement grants to certain Alabama companies. The grant would be based on in-house research and contract research expenses conducted in Alabama and consortium research expenses for qualified research conducted in Alabama. The bill passed the Senate earlier this month and has been referred to the House Ways and Means Education Committee.
  • HB 424, by Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R- Auburn, would extend tax credits to Alabama businesses for qualified research expenses incurred by Alabama companies that spend funds and resources in-house or pay Alabama research companies to conduct qualified research for new or improved products or services. This bill has passed the House Ways and Means Education Trust Fund Committee and is pending its third reading.
  • SB 268, by Sen. Arthur Orr, R – Decatur, would provide allocation of funds to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to facilitate growth in the state’s system of inland ports and transfer facilities and for the coordination of a transportation system for inland waterways. After passing the Senate 30-0, it was read for the first time in the House and was referred to the committee on County and Municipal Government.
  • SB 247, by Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, would allow the Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment to intervene in the legal action contesting the redistricting or reapportionment plan and would express the intent of the Legislature for the committee to seek intervention in actions in the federal court. After receiving a favorable report from the Senate Government Affairs Committee by a vote of 8-3, it is pending its third reading.
  • SB 237, by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, would create the Alabama Open Records Act to establish a process for requesting public records from a governmental body and requires governmental bodies to adopt rules and designate a custodian of records. The bill had a public hearing in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, but a vote was not held.
  • HB 388, by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, would implement steps to improve the reading proficiency of public school kindergarten to third grade students and ensure that every student completing the third grade is able to read at or above grade level. The bill, known as the Alabama Literacy Act, now heads to the House floor after passing the House Education Policy Committee.
  • SB 236, by Sen Tim Melson, R- Florence, will create the 9-member Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission making medical grade cannabis available to qualified patients as follows: 1) establishing and administering a patient registry system for qualifying patients; 2) issuing medical cannabis cards to qualified patients; 3) approving health care providers to issue prescriptions for medical cannabis; 4) issuing licenses for the cultivation, processing, transportation, manufacturing, packaging, dispensing, and sale of medical cannabis; 5) inspecting licensed facilities; 6) procuring and using a secure seed-to-sale tracking system of all medical cannabis; 7) hiring appropriate staff to include a director, assistant director, chief inspection and enforcement officer (in consultation with Department of Agriculture and Industries), legal counsel, and other staff as appropriate; 8) contracting with the Board of Medical Examiners or other 3rd party to administer training to qualified health care providers; and 9) providing written annual reports tracking and implementing the provisions of this bill. SB 236 passed the Senate 17-6. After receiving it’s first reading in the House, it has been referred to the House committee on Health.
  • SB 315, by Sen. Dan Roberts, R- Mountain Brook, would require certain operators of underground facilities to join the “One-Call Notification System” and would require the system to submit an annual report of operations and financial review to the Public Service Commission. After passing the Senate 31-0, it received its first reading in the House and was referred to the committee on Transportation, Utilities, and Infrastructure.

Tuesday’s Briefing to feature Rep. A.J. McCampbell

Please join us next Tuesday, May 14 at 8:30 a.m. for the BCA’s Governmental Affairs Committee Briefing with Rep. A.J. McCampbell, D-Gallion. Please email RSVP@bcatoday.org to let us know you’ll be present. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the first floor auditorium of the Business Center of Alabama, 2 North Jackson Street, Montgomery.

We’ll be broadcasting Rep. McCampbell’s briefing on Facebook Live for anyone who’s unable to attend. Find us on facebook and tune in.

If you have any questions regarding the legislative session, please contact BCA’s Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs David Cole or BCA’s Vice President for Governmental Affairs Molly Cagle.