MAJORITY LEADER LEDBETTER: IT’S NOT ABOUT POLITICS, IT’S ABOUT DOING WHAT’S BEST FOR THE PEOPLE OF OUR STATE
This week’s BCA Governmental Affairs Committee Briefing featured House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter. Leader Ledbetter updated attendees on all the Legislature is doing to address the issue of mental health in the state.
In the upcoming days, three bills and two resolutions will hit the House floor, according to Leader Ledbetter. If passed, the bills will bring mental health professionals to every school district in the state, allow hospitals to place a 72-hour evaluation period on at-risk patients, and implement nationally certified Crisis and Intervention Training (CIT) for all police officers in the state. The latter will make Alabama one in four states in the country to have a state-wide implication on training police officers.
Leader Ledbetter also referenced the two resolutions that will be introduced. The first will establish crisis care centers throughout the state. The second will grow the Step-Up Program in Alabama’s prison system, making Alabama the only state that will be passing a state-wide resolution for the program. According to Leader Ledbetter, “We’ve only just begun.”
Also in attendance was Laura Grill, Chief Executive Officer at East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC), who introduced Leader Ledbetter. Lynn Beshear, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health, was also present at the briefing.
Leader Ledbetter’s remarks were broadcast on BCA’s Facebook page via Facebook Live. Watch below if you missed it, and be sure to like us on Facebook so you don’t miss next week’s live broadcast of Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton.
TWO BCA PRIORITY BILLS HEAD TO GOVERNOR’S DESK
The fifth week of the 2020 Legislative Session yielded legislative success for two BCA-supported bills, HB 140 and HB 158. Both bills passed the Senate floor with overwhelming support and now go to the Governor’s desk for her signature. Below is a list of notable bills BCA’s team is tracking:
- HB 140 – by Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton), passed the Senate by a vote of 27-2 and now goes to the Governor’s desk for her signature. This bill will clarify existing law and the definition of “cover” as it relates to alternative cover for solid waste landfills. The EPA and ADEM have adopted rules allowing the use of alternative cover to permit Alabama landfills to use other means of daily cover on city, county, and private landfills. Prior to the rule, the daily cover required was six inches of earth each day which is extremely costly in terms of both money and space. This legislation takes this currently regulated practice and places it into law in Alabama.
- HB 158 – by Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan), passed the Senate by a vote of 32-0 and now goes to the Governor’s desk for her signature. This legislation will prohibit private auditing or collecting firms working on behalf of state or local governments from recovering certain costs from a taxpayer. These prohibited costs will include travel expenses, auditing or collecting-related costs, salary or personnel-related expenses, or professional services fees.
- HB 341 – by Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), received a favorable report from the House Education Policy Committee on Wednesday. This bill would establish mental health service coordinators in public schools and require each local board of education to employ at least one mental health service coordinator in its jurisdiction.
- SB 45 and HB 36 – by Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) and Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island), would further provide for the crime of unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure by prohibiting the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, or drone, to photographically or electronically record a critical infrastructure except under certain conditions.
- SB 236 and HB 345 – by Sen. Tom Butler (R-Madison) and Rep. Ron Johnson (R-Sylacauga), would prohibit pharmacy benefits managers and health benefit plans from transferring and sharing certain patient information with certain affiliates of the pharmacy benefits manager. This bill would also prohibit a health benefit plan from requiring an insured to obtain pharmacist services, including prescription drugs, exclusively from a mail-order pharmaceutical distributor or affiliated pharmacy. If enacted, this legislation would result in increased drug costs for employers, employees and the state. These pieces of legislation did not advance this week and await committee review in their respective chambers.
- HB 206 and SB 170 – by Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) and Sen. Roger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), would provide for the creation and enforcement of non-disparagement obligations in contracts. These pieces of legislation did not advance this week and await committee review in their respective chambers.
- SB 107 – by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), would require businesses of any size to submit an affidavit to the Secretary of State proving they use E-Verify in accordance with federal immigration regulations. This would need to be submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office before a business could receive a business license or permit from a county or municipality. It would also make it a crime to submit a false or misleading affidavit. This legislation did not advance this week and awaits committee review in the Senate.
- HB 93 – by Rep. Ron Johnson (R-Sylacauga), would enact the Digital Fair Repair Act. This would provide for the repair of digital electronic equipment by persons other than the manufacturer or an authorized repair provider of the manufacturer. This bill would require an original equipment manufacturer to make parts available, for purposes of diagnosis, maintenance, or repair, to any independent repair provider. This legislation did not advance this week and awaits committee review in the House.
- HB 266 – by Rep. Shane Stringer (R-Citronelle), would prohibit health benefit plans, life insurers, and long-term care insurers from using an individual’s genetic information to determine insurance rates. This legislation did not advance this week and awaits committee review in the House.
BCA Will Monitor
- SB 165 – by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), known as the Compassion Act, would authorize medical marijuana in Alabama by requiring patients to obtain a medical marijuana card from a doctor to treat certain medical conditions included in the legislation. A business-friendly amendment was added to the legislation in committee which provides business protection provisions and worker’s compensation provisions in order to ensure the potential law does not expose the business community to additional civil liability. This bill has received Senate committee approval and awaits action on the Senate floor.
- SB 250 and HB 353 – by Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) and Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), would reduce the corporate income tax and financial institution excise tax rates from 6.5% to 4.75%, while simultaneously repealing the federal income tax deduction. These bills would also convert the existing double-weighted sales factor apportionment formula that most corporations use to a single sales factor.
- SB 172 – by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), would allow wireless providers to install small-cell wireless facilities on existing poles, or install new poles on the right-of-way of a government entity. A substitute bill was adopted by the Senate and passed the Senate floor on Thursday.
- SB 216 – by Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn), would allow for the purchase of construction materials and supplies for highway, road and bridge projects to be exempted from sales and use taxes. Currently, a licensed contractor that enters into a contract with a government entity to undertake a project does not have to pay sales and use tax on construction materials and supplies for that project. The current law pertains to all construction contracts entered into by government entities, with the exclusion of highway, road and bridge projects. SB 216 would remove that exclusion. This legislation did not advance this week and awaits committee review in the Senate.
Other State House News: Governor Announces Bills to Address Prison Issues
The Legislature completed its ninth and tenth legislative working day this week with both chambers passing a number of bills. Additionally, a package of criminal justice reform bills was filed this week and will likely get lots of attention in the coming weeks.
Below is a list of notable bills that were filed or received legislative action this week:
- Governor Ivey has endorsed a package of bills aimed at addressing Alabama’s prison concerns, along with a recommendation to expand funding for prison education programs by $4.2 million. This package is a result of the work done by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Study Group, and includes:
- A bill aimed to help reduce the number of inmates returning to prison by mandating those who are coming to the end of their sentence undergo mandatory pre-release supervision and education programs.
- A bill that would provide former inmates the ability to receive a non-driver photo identification card to help them rejoin the workforce.
- A bill to establish a deputy commissioner of rehabilitation within the ADOC, as well as the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
- A bill to require the Alabama Department of Corrections to report more information to the Legislative Prison Oversight Committee and update the oath of office that is taken by correctional officers to reflect the department’s renewed focus on rehabilitation.
- A bill to allow anyone convicted of a non-violent crime to have their sentence re-evaluated under the presumptive sentencing guidelines established in 2013.
- The House passed a bill to create and fund a Statewide Emergency Notification System pursuant to cooperation between the Emergency Management Agency and the Alabama Disaster Recovery Program Committee.
Tuesday’s Briefing will Feature Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton
Please join us next Tuesday, March 10 at 9:00 a.m. for BCA’s Governmental Affairs Committee Briefing with Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton.
Please email RSVP@bcatoday.org to let us know you’ll be present. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. in the first floor auditorium of the Business Center of Alabama, 2 North Jackson Street, Montgomery.
We’ll be broadcasting Senator Singleton’s briefing on Facebook Live for anyone who is unable to attend. Find us on Facebook and tune in.
Join us on March 11, 2020 for our Legislative Reception
The reception will be at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa. Click here for more information.
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.
Click for more information.