SPEAKER MCCUTCHEON: HOUSE IS FOCUSED ON QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION
This week’s BCA Governmental Affairs Committee briefing featured Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon. Speaker McCutcheon shared with attendees insights on issues such as education, the budgets, and addressing Alabama’s mental health concerns.
When it comes to education, the Speaker said the House is focused on areas such as literacy, mental health, and student counselors. He informed the group that while there haven’t been any bills filed on these issues, members are working hard on them and want to have them fine-tuned when it comes time for them to be presented.
Speaker McCutcheon then shared insight on a plan which will be rolled out by members of the Mental Health Commission which will consist of three bills and two resolutions. This legislation will look to address key issues such as crisis service centers, CIT and law enforcement training, and mental health counselors in the school systems.
BCA was also excited to have in attendance at this week’s briefing Alabama Department of Revenue Commissioner Vernon Barnett. Commissioner Barnett was joined by several members of the Alabama Department of Revenue staff.
Speaker McCutcheon’s remarks were broadcast on BCA Facebook page via Facebook Live. Watch below if you missed it, and like us on Facebook so you don’t miss next week’s live broadcast of House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter.
PROGRESS CONTINUES AS LEGISLATURE CLOSES OUT MONTH OF FEBRUARY
The Legislature completed its seventh and eighth legislative working day this week as it wrapped up the month of February. Both chambers passed a number of bills this week covering a wide range of issues.
Below is a list of notable bills that saw legislative action this week:
- The Senate passed a bill that would establish standards for student nurse apprenticeships and issue student nurse apprentice permits to eligible students.
- The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee favorably reported a bill that would prohibit private auditing or collecting firms working on behalf of state or local governments from recovering certain costs from a taxpayer.
- The Senate passed a bill that would require a municipality to receive approval from the Legislature via local legislation in order to impose an occupational tax on individuals within the municipality’s jurisdiction. This bill now goes to the Governor’s office for her signature.
- The House passed a bill which would allow members of the military who relocate to Alabama to be able to enroll in one of Alabama’s virtual schools. This bill is a component of Lt. Governor Ainsworth’s military stability package.
- The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee favorably reported a bill that would require counties to allow voters, through a local referendum, to decide if they want to eliminate police jurisdictions.
BCA-Supported Bills Inch Closer to Governor’s Desk
The fourth week of the 2020 Legislative Session resulted in two House bills of interest passing out of the Senate committee and would now only need Senate floor passage before they are sent 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), received a favorable report from the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday. This bill would 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 would take this currently regulated practice and place it into law in Alabama.
- HB 158 – by Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan), received a favorable report from the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday. This legislation would prohibit private auditing or collecting firms working on behalf of state or local governments from recovering certain costs from a taxpayer. These prohibited costs would include travel expenses, auditing or collecting-related costs, salary or personnel-related expenses, or professional services fees.
- HB 77 – by Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-Arab), would require employers and state agencies to use the same specified guidelines to determine whether a worker is to be classified as an employee or independent contractor. This will require state government agencies to use a uniformed set of criteria that mirror that of the federal government in order to provide businesses with clear and consistent guidelines when classifying employees. This legislation did not advance this week and awaits committee review in the House.
- 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.
- 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 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 Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee and then given a favorable report on Wednesday.
- 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.
- 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.
Tuesday’s Briefing will Feature House Majority Leader, Nathaniel Ledbetter
Please join us next Tuesday, March 3 at 9:00 a.m. for BCA’s Governmental Affairs Committee Briefing with House Majority Leader, Nathaniel Ledbetter.
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 Rep. Ledbetter’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.
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