Capitol News & Notes: May 12, 2020

Capitol News & Notes: May 12, 2020

The Legislature reconvened the 2020 Regular Legislative Session on Monday, May 4 with the sole goal to pass the budgets and take up local bills. The Legislature has not been able to meet and consider legislation for nearly two months since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic on March 13.  While there was discussion of considering additional legislation, the Legislature stayed on task, meeting six days to pass both 2021 budgets, the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund, and sending them to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature. Both budgets are the largest in Alabama’s history and received bipartisan support.

On Thursday, May 7, the House passed the $2.3 billion General Fund budget with a 75-1 vote, and the Senate voted 30-0 to concur with the House version of the bill. The General Fund pays for non-education state agencies and services and saw an overall increase of approximately $167 million from the 2020 fiscal year budget.

On Saturday, May 9, the Legislature met to pass the Education Trust Fund appropriations package. Despite being trimmed down significantly from the earlier pre-coronavirus version of the bill, the $7.2 billion Education Trust Fund budget passed the Senate 31-0 with an overall increase of approximately $90 million from the 2020 budget, and the House voted shortly thereafter 73-1 to approve the Senate version of the bill. Included in the education appropriations package was a $1.25 billion bond issue to fund capital improvements for school systems, including K-12 schools as well as two-year colleges and universities. Every K-12 school system will receive at least $400,000.

Although the Legislature wrapped up its business on Saturday, May 9, the House and Senate will return on Monday, May 18, to consider any Executive Amendments from Governor Ivey. May 18 is the last possible day for the 2020 Regular Legislative Session before the Legislature must adjourn sine die.

Due to an abbreviated session because of the pandemic, the Legislature was limited to meeting 20 days out of a possible 30. The uncertainty created by the COVID 19 pandemic limited the scope of bills considered. A total of 856 bills were filed, with 508 originating in the House and 348 in the Senate. As of this writing, approximately 26 House bills and 34 Senate bills have been signed into law. Several big-ticket legislative items were not addressed, including a possible state lottery, prison policy changes, medical marijuana legislation, and other issues that have emerged from the pandemic such as liability protection from frivolous lawsuits and allocation of federal CARES Act money. One or more special legislative sessions will be needed later in 2020 for the Legislature to deliberate these important issues affecting Alabama. 

The Alabama REALTORS® Public Policy team will continue to advocate on behalf of Alabama REALTORS® and private property owners before the Legislature and all branches of government on issues that impact the real estate industry and private property rights. We appreciate the hard work of the Public Policy Committee this year and encourage you to look for additional news as Governor Ivey and legislative leadership consider special legislative sessions later this year.