Capitol News & Notes: Week Eleven
April 26, 2021
Last week, the Legislature met for two legislative days on Tuesday and Thursday with Wednesday as a committee day. They have now completed 25 of 30 possible session days. As of today, April 27, the House has introduced 642 bills, and the Senate has introduced 400 bills. The House reconvened at 1 p.m., and the Senate reconvened at 2 p.m. this afternoon.
Bills of Interest
REALTOR®-Sponsored Remote Ink Notarization Bill Heads to Gov. Ivey - SB275, sponsored by Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville), would amend current notary law to give the option of remote ink notarization. The intent of SB275 is to codify the language from Governor Ivey’s Executive Orders during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide security to safely notarize documents remotely using identity proofing measures, which would help closings and many other transactions. Last Tuesday, Andy Whitt (R-Harvest), who also worked on the House companion bill, presented the bill for a House vote. Two Representatives spoke in support of the bill. Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Birmingham) stated it would help further commerce in the state. Rep. Rolanda Hollis (R-Birmingham) also spoke in favor of the bill and mentioned she was glad that the bill required a wet-ink signature. After the committee amendment was adopted, which changed the penalty for intentionally violating the act to a Class C misdemeanor, the bill passed the House unanimously 98-0. Due to the committee amendment, it was sent back to the Senate for concurrence. Sen. Givhan moved for concurrence, and the Senate voted to concur and adopt with a 29-0 vote. The bill now moves to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk for her signature. Thank you, Sen. Givhan and Rep. Whitt, for all your hard work in getting this bill passed!
Broadband Expansion Bill Passes House - SB215, sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston), is also known as the Broadband Expansion Bill. The bill would create a state entity, the Alabama Digital Expansion Authority, to oversee the expansion of broadband services throughout the state and would allow the Legislature to appropriate direct funding the state entity. There will also be a larger Connect Alabama Advisory Board that will issue recommendations to the authority and the Alabama Digital Expansion Finance Corporation that will be able to issue bonds to finance certain projects. This bill will hopefully improve broadband connectivity in Alabama, which is desperately needed as the state ranks 47th overall. Two weeks ago, it came up for a public hearing in front of the House Urban and Rural Development Committee, and last Tuesday, the committee unanimously gave the bill a favorable report. On Thursday, the House considered the bill as substituted and voted to pass it unanimously. It will now move to the Senate to concur with the changes made in the House.
Lead-Based Paint Bill REALTOR® Amendment Added - On Wednesday, the House Health Committee gave a favorable report to the REALTOR®-amended SB 143, which makes changes to Alabama’s lead-based paint laws. Alabama REALTORS® worked with the Alabama Department of Public Health (DPH) on the bill for the past several years, culminating into the bill as amended. The bill bolsters protection of Alabama’s children from lead poisoning during lead-based paint renovations. Specifically, SB 143 strengthens DPH’s ability to inspect work by contractors working on lead-based paint in a residence or child-care facility. As agreed upon by DPH and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), the REALTOR® amendment protects homeowners by clarifying that government inspectors are limited to inspecting work done by contractors, whether certified or uncertified by DPH. Rep. Mooney was indispensable in ensuring the amendment was added to the bill. SB 143 now awaits passage by the House of Representatives.
Education Budget Receives Favorable Report - The education budget bills originate in the Senate and were passed by the Senate in mid-March. There are seven bills that collectively make up the education budget, including SB185 and SB188-193. The 2022 education budget is the largest education budget in the history of Alabama coming in at approximately $7.65 billion. On Thursday, the Alabama House Ways and Means Education Committee passed the education budget. The House is expected to vote on the education budgets today, the 26th legislative day.
A Look Ahead
It might be hard to believe, but there are only five legislative days left. It is expected that the Legislature will meet two days a week for the next two weeks with Wednesday as a committee day and come back on May 17 for the final legislative day before adjourning sine die.