Highlights from Week 8 of the Legislative Session and a Look at What’s Ahead for Week 9
March 6, 2018
The Alabama Legislative Session has now passed the halfway point with last Thursday marking the 16th legislative day of work. By law, the legislature can work for a maximum of 30 days or 105 calendar days. Both the House and the Senate worked in a bi-partisan manner this week with both houses passing legislation on Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesday was reserved for committee meetings. Let’s look at some of the highlights from last week.
State Employees to See a Pay Raise
Last Tuesday, the Alabama Senate approved a bill that would provide a raise to state employees.
SB 185, sponsored by Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) would provide a 3 percent pay raise for state employees. State employees have not had a cost-of-living allowance (COLA) increase since 2008.
The bill passed 28-1 and now goes to the House for consideration and will be taken up with the General Fund budget. The bill will be taken up in the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee.
Governor Ivey Signs Ride-Sharing Bill into Law
Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill into law on Thursday that allows ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate statewide.
The legislation proposed by Representative David Faulkner (R-Homewood) and Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) will permit the Public Service Commision to charge ride-sharing companies a fee in order to operate in Alabama. The Commission regulates companies, issues permits, and implements discrimination and substance abuse policies.
Alabama is the 45th state to pass ride-sharing legislation.
It will go into effect on July 1.
Photo Courtesy of Alabama Daily News
Forever Wild Bill Fails on House Floor
Last Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives voted to reject a constitutional amendment that would have made the Forever Wild program reimburse state, county, and municipal governments for the loss of property tax revenue on the land that Forever Wild has purchased and taken off of the tax rolls.
HB 362 was sponsored by Representative Mark Tuggle (R-Alexander City). Tuggle represents a portion of Coosa County, which has lost much needed tax revenues to the program. Forever Wild has 200,000 acres of land on which no property taxes are paid.
Tuggle said that Forever Wild receives $15 million a year from the Alabama Trust Fund to purchase more property. He contends that the program rolls over $3 million a year into savings, and taxes that could be paid on the timber taken from the land could easily be allocated to desperate local governments.
Forever Wild was renewed by the legislature and voters in 2012 and will continue to draw $15 million a year from the Trust Fund through 2032. The program is widely popular around the state, but there are some who question its validity.
Bill to Ban Semi-Automatic Weapons Introduced in House
The February 14th mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida continues to produce debate at the Alabama State House.
Reprepresentative Mary Moore (D-Birmingham), introduced a bill last Thursday to ban the sales of all semiautomatic guns, both rifles and pistols. Two weeks ago, Reprepresentative Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville), introduced legislation that would allow for arming teachers in the classroom.
On the House floor Thursday, Representative Moore asked for a moment of personal privilege where she pleaded with lawmakers to allow the legislation to be discussed.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Huntsville), said he would hold informal discussions next week about the various school safety bills that have been introduced. He wants those talks to include members of a school security task force that issued a report in 2016.
HB 472 has been assigned to the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
What’s Ahead This Week
This week, the Education Trust Fund budget and the General Fund budget should be taken up in committee. Both budgets have passed their house of origin. Both budgets are considerably healthy, and neither budget saw extensive debate on the floor of its origin. Also this week, expect to see HB 76, sponsored by Representative Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee), to see receive final passage. HB 76 will add regulations for child care centers that are exempt from state licensing because of a church affiliation.