SENATE PRO TEM MARSH TALKS EDUCATION AND PRISON ISSUES AT BCA BRIEFING
This week’s BCA Governmental Affairs Committee briefing featured Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh who discussed several important issues such as Amendment One and legislation related to addressing Alabama’s prison issues.
Senator Marsh stressed the need for support of Amendment One which will be on the Primary Election ballot on March 3. Amendment One would change the State Board of Education from an elected board to an appointed commission consisting of nine members – seven will be appointed from Alabama’s congressional districts and two will be at-large appointments. The new commission will be named the “Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education.” Currently, Alabama is one of only six states without an appointed school board.
The Senate Pro Tem then shared the different legislative approaches the legislature will be taking to address Alabama’s chronic prison problems. These approaches will look to address overcrowding, facility modernization, personnel, mental illness, sentencing reform, and vocational training.
Senator Marsh’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 Speaker of the House, Mac McCutcheon.
HOUSE AND SENATE HAVE ANOTHER PRODUCTIVE LEGISLATIVE WEEK
The third week of the 2020 Legislative Session yielded the passage of many important pieces of legislation, which included bills on BCA’s radar. Both chambers continued filing new legislation, with the House dropping 60 new bills and the Senate filing 45 new bills.
As far as significant bills seeing legislative action this week, here are a few of the issues that received a committee vote or chamber floor vote:
- The Senate passed a package of military-friendly bills, an effort spearheaded by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s office, which included:
- A bill to allow military dependents to retain in-state tuition rates even after their sponsor is transferred from Alabama.
- A bill to require communities to notify base commanders prior to constructing a tall structure in a bases’ proximity.
- A bill to allow military dependents to apply to magnet schools with the deadline being the 1st day of the school year.
- A bill to allow for the creation of a charter school with the sole purpose of serving military dependents. This legislation requires that the school must be located on or adjacent to an active military base.
- A bill to allow military families to use their PCS orders as proof of residence in order to enroll in one of Alabama’s virtual schools.
- The House passed a bill that would create a new tier of improved retirement benefits for education employees.
- The House passed 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 Judiciary Committee favorably reported a bill that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Alabama. 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.
Several Bills of Interest See Activity in Week Three
The third week of the 2020 Legislative Session resulted in two bills of interest passing out of the House chamber and others seeing committee action. Below is a list of notable bills BCA’s team is tracking:
- HB 140 – by Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton), passed the House by a vote of 102-0. This bill would clarify existing law and the definition of “cover” as it relates to alternative cover for solid waste disposal 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 officially place it into law in Alabama.
- HB 158 – by Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan), passed the House chamber by a vote of 103-0. 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.
- 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.
BCA Will Monitor
- SB 165 – by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), known as the Compassion Act, received a favorable report from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. This bill 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.
- SB 81 – by Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre), would require broadband service providers operating in Alabama to submit a report containing its broadband network area coverage map to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and would provide the department with rulemaking authority relating to the submission of the reports. This legislation did not advance this week and awaits committee review in the Senate.
- SB 144 – by Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre), would limit the federal income deduction allowed on a state return to a maximum of $6,000 for individuals filing as single, head of household, and married filing separately and $12,000 for individuals filing as married filing jointly. This legislation would also exempt sales of food and groceries from state sales and use taxes. This bill would amend Alabama’s Constitution and, if passed by the Legislature, would need to be approved by Alabama voters via constitutional amendment. This legislation did not advance this week and awaits committee review in the Senate.
- 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.
- SB 57 – by Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), would repeal existing law regarding access to public records and establish a new Alabama Public Records Act. The new public records law would include provisions regarding access to public records, requests for information, and many other new provisions. This legislation did not advance this week and awaits committee review in the Senate.
- 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.
- 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.
- SB 184 – by Sen. David Sessions (R-Mobile), would align the state and federal definition of “beer” to include certain beverages that are currently not classified as “beer” under state law.
Tuesday’s Briefing will Feature Alabama Speaker of the House, Mac McCutcheon
Please join us next Tuesday, February 25 at 9:00 a.m. for BCA’s Governmental Affairs Committee Briefing with Alabama Speaker of the House, Mac McCutcheon.
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 Speaker McCutcheon’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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