January 24, 2022 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The 2022 regular session of the Alabama Legislature was put on pause pretty much as quickly as it began, with Governor Ivey proving the rumors true and calling a special session when the legislators re-convened for the third day of the regular session last Tuesday. (Read the governor’s proclamation, below.) They started the special session at 11 a.m. on Wednesday but got a little regular session business done before Tuesday ended. Find more on that below.

Also below, find details of what transpired during the first two days of special session, along with thoughts on what will likely happen next week, some college sports law news and some more economic development announcements for the state that keep the positive momentum from last year rolling right along.

It’s all here in Group Watch, where we’ll keep bringing you key #alpolticis happenings all session long.

The House and Senate return for day three of the special session on Tuesday, January 25 at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m, respectively  and come back for day four of the 2022 regular session on Tuesday, February 1 at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.

2022_01_18_First_Special_Session_Proclamation

January 24, 2022 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

@VoteJWS
Jan 20
No @AL_League event would be complete without the annual Hal Bloom selfie… #alpolitics is better with Usie! • #ALMadvoday

January 24, 2022 Group Watch: 2022 Special Session In Progress

Alabama lawmakers began a special session last Wednesday to draft a plan for spending $772 million in pandemic relief dollars from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. A joint meeting of the House and Senate General Fund Budget Committees held a public hearing on Wednesday to receive input from agencies and the public. On Thursday, each committee met separately and voted out of committee a bill that could be passed as early this Tuesday. The Alabama plan proposes to provide:

  • $277 million for broadband expansion, including $192 million from the capital projects fund and $85 million from the fiscal recovery fund.
  • $225 million for water and sewer infrastructure projects.
  • $80 million for hospitals and nursing homes.
  • $79.5 million to Alabama’s unemployment trust fund to restore it to near the level of January 2020.
  • $37 million for a category that includes assisted living facilities, mental health, rehabilitative services and others.
  • $30 million for rural hospitals.
  • $20 million for emergency medical responders, including $10 million for volunteer fire departments.
  • $11 million for counties to help pay for state inmates held in county jails because of the pandemic.
  • $7.8 million for the cost of the reporting and auditing requirements for using the money.
  • $5 million for telemedicine.

See below for the bill status for bills being considered during the special session.

The Bloom Group Inc – 2022 1st Special Session – ALL – Bills

January 24, 2022 Group Watch: A Bit of Regular Session Activity

Last Tuesday, legislators got started on regular session business before breaking to convene the special session. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved bills to exempt from state income tax distributions from a defined benefit plan and to increase the optional standard deduction amount. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved bills to further provide for the types of bail that may be posted; to further provide for the crime of unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure; and to further provide for penalties for 2nd degree assault. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved bills to authorize the establishment of entertainment districts within certain community development districts and to prohibit state and local law enforcement from using artificial and facial recognition to engage in surveillance with certain exceptions.

January 24, 2022 Group Watch: Repeal of Alabama NIL Law Passes in the House

The discussion of the state’s NIL (name, image and likeness) law for college athletes that began in the first week of the regular session continued last week, with the House voting 97-1 to repeal Alabama’s NIL law. Some claim it was more restrictive that the NCAA’s own policy, which was adopted after the state passed its law. The NCAA’s rules also make the state law unnecessary. Repealing it should ensure Alabama colleges and universities remain competitive when recruiting athletes.

January 24, 2022 Group Watch: Alabama Earns “Deal of the Year” Bragging Rights

Business Facilities, a national publication focused on economic development, has selected Alabama’s recruitment of Landing’s headquarters relocation project as one of its “Deals of the Year” in a new ranking. Landing’s move was made possible by a partnership forged with the state of Alabama, Jefferson County and the City of Birmingham, led by the Birmingham Business Alliance. Business Facilities named the project its “Deal of the Year” in the startup category. The announcement was made online and will be included in the magazine’s January/February issue, out next month. Landing is creating 816 full-time jobs.

January 24, 2022 Group Watch: ALDOT Announces $40M worth of 2022 Infrastructure Projects

Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Transportation announced the allocation of more than $40 million in funding for city and county infrastructure projects. The funding for road and bridge infrastructure across the state was made available by the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II. This program places a minimum of $30 million aside for projects of local interest in the state highway system and utilizes funds generated from ALDOT’s share of new gas tax revenue. Of the 32 projects, which total $40.31 million in state transportation funding, 17 were from cities and counties putting forward $11.89 million in local funds. Local governments are not required to match funds to meet program eligibility. The state has reportedly awarded more than $100 million in state transportation funds since the program’s inception in 2019.

January 24, 2022 Group Watch: Manufacture Alabama Endorses AL Supreme Court Candidates

Manufacture Alabama announced Alabama Supreme Court endorsements for candidate Greg Cook and incumbent Associate Justice Kelli Wise. According to George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, Wise and Cook both embody the kind of honorable leaders we need on the Alabama Supreme Court. Clark says they are committed to the rule of law and will serve to follow the law rather than create it. Wise was first elected to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 2000 becoming the youngest woman ever elected to sit on an Alabama Supreme Court of Alabama in 2010. As an attorney, Cook has gained the respect of clients, other attorneys and judges taking on new roles demonstrating his commitment to the justice system in Alabama. He has served on the Jefferson County Republican Steering Committee, Executive Committee and as legal counsel to the Jefferson County GOP. Cook has also served in the Alabama Republican Party for almost 15 years including the last four years as general counsel for the party.

January 24, 2022 Group Watch: Pennsylvania Company Investing $25M in Manufacturing Facility

HarbisonWalker International announced plans to invest $25 million to convert its closed property near Birmingham into “Alabama One,” an advanced refractories manufacturing hub for steelmakers in the Southeast. Construction on the AL 1 facility in Fairfield is scheduled to begin during the first quarter of 2022, and the 100,000-square-foot facility is expected to open before the end of the year. Refractories are ceramic materials designed to withstand extreme high temperatures, in excess of 1,000-degrees F. More heat resistant than metals, refractories are used to line the surfaces found inside furnaces and ovens in industrial settings. The company expects to hire 50 highly trained technicians, including welders, electricians and mechanics.

January 24, 2022 Group Watch: Gov Ivey Awards Grants for Community Development

Governor Kay Ivey has awarded $18.2 million to provide improvements in more than 50 Alabama towns, cities and counties through Community Develop Block Grants. The grant awards ranged from $12,000 to $500,000, and the funds will enable local governments to provide public water service to households, repair damaged streets and roads and improve sewer systems, drainage and more. This grant program is awarded annually on a competitive basis in several categories: small city (population 2,999 or less), large city (3,000 or more), county and community enhancement.

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