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April 13, 2015 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

This past week, the Alabama Legislature passed bills to provide more autonomy to county governments, to provide a tax deduction to those contributing to catastrophic savings accounts, and to place emphasis on hiring military veterans.

  • Tuesday (11th Day of Regular Session): The House passed bills to prohibit the use of eminent domain for purposes of acquiring mortgages or deeds of trust; to give county governments more autonomy so they don’t have to go to the legislature before establishing new programs related to transportation, emergency assistance programs and other areas; and a number of bills of local application only. The Governmental Affairs Committee approved a House-passed bill that would require state employees receive a yearly statement of their salary and benefits each year. The Senate passed bills to provide a tax deduction for taxpayers who made contributions to a catastrophic savings account; to clarify the exemption for degree-granting entities operating under reciprocity agreements; to add a subcontractor to the Licensure Board for General Contractors; and to allow for the families of certain firefighters and peace officers who died in the line of duty to resubmit applications for consideration.
  • Wednesday (Committee Day): The SenateFinance and Taxation Education Committee onEducation approved a $5.0 billion budget, very similar to the budget approved last year. The bill would provide for the hiring of 70 new teachers in grades 7 and 8, provide an additional $13 million for textbooks, an additional $2 million for distance learning and $13 million additionally for expansion of the state’s Pre-K program. The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee discussed in great detail a bill to close or privatize the state’s liquor stores, but the measure was defeated by a vote of 7-6.
  • Thursday (12th Day of Regular Session): The House passed a number of bills of local application only as well as bills to allow local schools more flexibility to establish school calendars; to require food service establishments to list the country of origin of food containing fish products with siluriformes; and to permit competitive bids be awarded to a responsible bidder in preference zones with no more than 10 percent variance from an out-of-state competitor. The House also passed final approval of a Senate-passed bill relating to board appointments and compensation to the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority. The Senate passed bills to prohibit state entities from charging a fee for a person using a camera or other electronic device to make copies of public documents and to rename the Heroes for Hire Tax Credit of 2012 the Veterans Employment Act.

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