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April 17, 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature returned to work on Tuesday, April 11 for the 16th day of the session. A proposed gas tax didn’t make it very far, and we got a new governor. Here are a few other highlights:

  • On Tuesday (16th day of session): The House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee met and approved a bill to increase gasoline taxes to be used for road and bridge repairs. The House approved several bills of local application only, including two bills affecting the lowering of percent of investments in fixed income securities for the Birmingham Firemen and Policeman’s Supplemental pension System and revising the operation of the Birmingham retirement and relief system. They passed a general bill to authorize certain correctional officers, firefighters and law enforcement officers to retire with full benefits after 25 years. The Senate passed several bills of local application only and general bills to increase the income tax credits for rural physicians and dentists; the Alabama Renewal Act, which provides extended tax credits for newly qualified broadband telecommunication network facilities; to further specify that schools and churches are protected against threats of terror; and final approval of a House-passed bill to authorize the Community College System to acquire and dispose of property.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day): The House Insurance Committee approved insurance coverage under certain circumstance for those with autism spectrum disorder. The House State Government Committee approved a bill providing for the qualifications of the Secretary of Early Childhood Education. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved bills to make it unlawful to inquire from a job applicant information relating to arrests or convictions of crimes with certain exceptions as well as House-passed bills to provide additional requirements for violations of restrictions on Stage II driver’s licenses and to authorize the Department of Revenue to tax additional steps to combat identity theft of tax refunds. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved a bill to provide a one-time lump sum retirement payment in December 2017 to retirees in the Teachers’ Retirement System. The Jefferson County Local Legislation Committee approved a bill relating to the salary of the city council in Birmingham.
  • On Thursday (17th day of session): The House attempted for several hours, without success, to get the procedural votes to allow them to consider a proposed gas tax, after which, they adjourned. The Senate passed several bills of local application only, including some House-passed bills. They also passed general bills to exempt from sales and use tax certain adaptive devices for the blind; to authorize the Department of Revenue to employ auctioneers for the sale of state land; and to authorize judges to use discretionary funds to provide therapy dogs in the courtroom with vulnerable witnesses.

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