March 9, 2020 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The fifth week of session was a busy one. Multiple local bills were passed, and it ended with one contentious bill being signed into law (see more info below). The governor’s gambling study group also got started on its work. Read our wrap-up of other activity.

  • Tuesday, March 3 (9th day of session): The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved several bills, including a House-passed bill to exempt from competitive bid certain leases of goods and services by local boards of education, a Senate-sponsored bill on the same matter, and to require nonprofit corporations to get approval from the Public Service Commission before raising water rates and to require the entity to be audited by the Department of Examiners of public Accounts. The House passed general bills to allow for post-adoption agreements for contact between an adopted child and biological relatives; to provide further for the filing of a statement of economic interest by candidates for municipal office; and to authorize financial institutions to refuse to execute or delay execution of certain transactions involving accounts of elderly and vulnerable adults in matters relating to exploitation. The Senate had vigorous debate over procedural matters before adjourning for the day without passing any bills.
  • Wednesday, March 4 (committee day): The House Education Policy Committee approved bills to create a Teacher Bill of Rights; to authorize local boards of education to offer yoga to students; and to provide mental health service coordinators for local school systems to a legislative appropriation. The House Insurance Committee approved a bill to require hospitals to bill an injured person’s health insurance and only seek payment from the insurer unless certain circumstances apply. The House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee approved a bill to allow former public officials/employees to work for the same or other public employer. The House Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee approved a number of Senate-passed sunset bills to continue the operation of the approved entities. The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved two House-passed bills to authorize economic development of property adjacent to a U.S. Air Force Base and to authorize business and nonprofit entities to elect to become benefit corporations. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to indemnify design professionals under certain circumstances. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved and amended a bill to provide for $1 billion for the Public School and College Authority. The committee amendment added $250 million to the original bill.
  • Thursday, March 5 (10th day of session): The House passed a few bills of local application only and general bills to create the Alabama STEM Council as an independent state entity within the Department of Commerce and to allow up to $1,500 of interest and dividend on a simplified individual income tax. The Senate passed already passed House bills to further for the definition of landfill cover and to require permanency plans for children when termination of parental rights is being considered by the court. They also passed general bills to provide for nurse practitioners and nurse midwives to serve rural clientele; to require doctors to obtain parental consent regarding a minor in cases involving “do not resuscitate orders,” and to further provide for the deployment of small wireless facilities.

The House and Senate return on Tuesday, March 10, at 1 pm and 2 pm respectively.

March 9, 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 4
Our highest priority is the safety of our people and the public during the #coronavirus. Watch as 3M Safety leader Dr. Nikki McCullough shows the right way to wear a N95 respirator.

March 9, 2020 Group Watch: Gov’s Gambling Study Group Gets Started

A group appointed by Governor Ivey to study the amount of tax revenue and other consequences that would result from a lottery, casinos and other forms of gambling in Alabama has begun its work. The 12-member group is chaired by former Montgomery mayor Todd Strange. Group members signed a pledged saying they would not profit from their participation and had no known conflicts of interest. The governor has taken a hands-off approach to gambling issues. She has said she does not believe gambling is a good way to fund government services but also says she’s not opposed to a ballot referendum on the issues. The group is looking to learn what forms of gambling are possible and the benefits, revenue, costs and governance structure associated with each, studying the best practices from other states.

March 9, 2020 Group Watch: AL Votes “No” on Amendment On

Alabama voters overwhelmingly said “no” to amendment one last week, voting it down decisively, meaning the state will not do away with its elected school board. The amendment would have replaced the elected state school board with an appointed commission tasked with coming up with an alternative to Common Core curriculum standards. If the amendment had passed, Ivey would have appointed all nine members of the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education. The members would have been confirmed by the Alabama Senate and would have served six year staggered terms. A state education secretary would have replaced the state superintendent. The secretary would have been appointed by the commission and confirmed by the Senate.

March 9, 2020 Group Watch: Gov Signs Occupational Tax Bill

Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill requiring cities to get legislative approval for new occupational taxes, effectively blocking a 1 percent tax passed by the Montgomery City Council in February. The Republican majority in the legislature passed the bill over opposition from Democrats, who said it undermined the authority of local officials to provide services for the constituents who elected them. City of Montgomery officials say they will explore all legal options necessary to protect the rights of citizens of Montgomery.

March 9, 2020 Group Watch: Alabama Earns Top 10 Rankings from Site Selection Mag

Alabama’s economic development successes in 2019 earned the state a pair of Top 10 rankings in Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cups analysis. Alabama ranked No. 6 among states in projects per capita, a measurement that places smaller states on a more level playing field in the publication’s analysis. The state’s per capita ranking in 2018 was 14. Alabama ranked No. 9 among all states for the number of 2019 economic development projects that met the criteria of the Site Selection analysis, with 150 qualified projects. In 2018, Alabama ranked No. 10.

March 9, 2020 Group Watch: Senate Bill Blocks Transgender Treatments for Minors

The Alabama Senate passed a bill that would make it a crime for doctors to prescribe opposite sex hormones or drugs that block puberty for people under the age of 19 who identify as transgender. The bill is sponsored by Senator Shay Shelnutt of Trussville who argued that most children with gender dysphoria eventually adjust and that giving them medications that could have permanent effects amounts to child abuse. He refers to the bill as the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act. The bill passed on a 22-3 vote.

March 2, 2020 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The fourth week of session has come and gone. Governor Ivey voiced her support for bipartisan bills that aim to solve the state’s prison problems. And the fate of new municipal occupational taxes is now on her desk, as the Senate passed the bill blocking cities from levying occupational taxes without going through the legislature last Thursday (see more info below). Here’s some of the other happenings from lat week.

  • Tuesday, February 25 (7th day of session): The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved a number of bills including bills to change the terms of office for county boards of education members from six to four years and to regulate certain private water system utilities. The House passed several bills of local application only and general bills to increase the minimum age from 16 to 17 years of age for contract marriage; to include persons with mental or physical disabilities in the law governing missing and endangered persons; to allow local boards of education to deem military dependents as Alabama for purposes of virtual education when an Armed Forces member relocates to the state; and to require permanency plans for children when courts consider termination of parental rights. The Senate passed 12 sunset bills to continue to the operations of various state boards and commissions, and general bills to require redaction of contract information from court documents released to the public regarding elder abuse victims and to create a Sexual Assault Task Force and Sexual Assault Bill of Rights.
  • Wednesday, February 26  (committee day): One of the busiest committees was the House Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee, which approved 16 Senate-passed bills relating to sunset consideration for various boards, agencies and commissions of government. The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee approved a bill to further provide for penalties for driving without a license and to adopt federal procedures for the use restraints on pregnant prisoners. The House Education Policy Committee approved a bill to revise focus, course material and instruction sex education in public K-12 schools. The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved a bill to create the Alabama STEM Council as an independent state entity within the Department of Commerce Workforce Division. The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved a House-passed bill to further provide for the definition of a landfill. The Senate Children, Youth and Human Services Committee approved a House-passed bill to add permanency plans in the consideration for termination of parental rights.
  • Thursday, February 27 (8th day of session): The House passed bills to further provide for bond consideration in certain criminal cases and to provide an additional offense under which bond can be denied.

The House and Senate return on Tuesday, March 3, at 3 pm and 2:30 pm respectively.

March 2, 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 1
Happy 21st Birthday to my baby boy Harris. He was apparently celebrating with the Alabama Basketball team last night.

March 2, 2020 Group Watch: Republic Services Named to Most Ethical Co List

Republic Services, Inc. (NYSE: RSG) has been recognized for the fourth consecutive year as one of the 2020 World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. “At Republic Services, it’s our responsibility to lead by example and hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards in all that we do,” said Don Slager, chief executive officer. “It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized for the fourth year as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, and it’s a testament to our company culture, values and employees.” The 2020 list recognizes 132 companies in 21 countries and 51 industries. These corporations illustrate how companies can be the driving force for improving communities, building capable and empowered workforces, and fostering corporate cultures focused on ethics and a strong sense of purpose.

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