March 2, 2020 Group Watch: Condolences

We were saddened to learn of the death of Mrs. Ruth Kathryne Price Clouse (93), a longtime resident of Ozark and mother to our legislative friend Representative Steve Clouse. We send our prayers of peace and comfort to the family.

March 2, 2020 Group Watch: GE Appliances Adds 255 Jobs in AL Project

GE Appliances officially marked completion of a $125 million investment project at its Decatur refrigerator plant, which boosted production capacity, added new “smart “ technology and increased the site’s workforce. The project increases production capacity by 25 percent and ensures early compliance with 2022 refrigerant changes, making the Alabama plant a super site for GE Appliances top-freezer refrigeration production. The expansion created 255 jobs, bringing total employment at the plant to 1,300.

March 2, 2020 Group Watch: New Board Members for Manufacture AL

Manufacture Alabama announced that its board of directors has elected Carl Gunter as the new board chair. He is mill manager of International Paper in Prattville and will serve a two-year term that began on February 4, 2020. Additionally, the board of directors elected Jason Slinkard as vice chair. He is the site director at BASF in McIntosh. Mart Parker, customer relations and logistics manager for Packaging Corporation of America, was reelected treasurer, and Paul Vercher, director of governmental affairs for U.S. Steel Corporation, was reelected as secretary of the board.

February 24, 2020 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

In the third week of session, a lot of basic business got done: approval by the Senate of the continuation of multiple and various sunset bills. A bill raising the marriage age made it through committee. And the medical marijuana bill made more progress (see separate article below). Here’s a condensed rundown of some of the activity:

  • Tuesday, February 18 (5th day of session): The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved a number of sunset bills to continue state boards, agencies and commissions to operate for another four years. The Senate Local Legislation Committee approved one bill of local application only, affecting Elmore County.
    The House approved a number of general bills including bills to regulate micro blading and eyelash facilities; to prohibit discrimination against organ transplant recipients with disabilities; to authorize local governments to develop property adjacent to U.S. Air Force Bases; to create a Tier III retirement plan for education employees; and a bill to provide supplemental appropriations to several self-perpetuating boards. The Senate approved a number of general bills including bills to authorize local governments to develop property adjacent to U.S. Air Force Bases; to authorize the State Board of Education to issue alternative teaching certificates to qualified former members of the Armed Forces; to authorize the formation of charter schools on or near military installations, with a focus on serving military dependents; and deem military dependents Alabama residents for purposes of virtual education when members of the U.S. Armed Forces are ordered to relocate to the state.
  • Wednesday, February 12  (committee day): The House State Government Committee approved bills to require that students in public K-12 participate only in events with persons of the same biological gender, and to allow up to $1,500 of interest and dividend deduction on a state short form. The House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee approved bills to increase the age for contract marriages from age16 to age 17; to include missing and endangered persons suffering from mental or physical disability in state law; and to add to add permanency plans for children in cases relating to termination of parental rights. The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee approved a bill to establish the Office of Chief Procurement Officer. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved bills to allow the use of medical cannabis for certain conditions and to require the redaction of certain contract information released to the public in court matters relating to the elderly. The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved bills to further provide for the condition under which former public employees and officials can work for the same or other agencies and to allow for the negotiation when all bids exceed available funding.
  • Thursday, February 20 (6th day of session): The House passed several general bills, including bills to further provide for the definition of a landfill (more info on this below) and to limit the pardon powers of a mayor in cases of domestic violence. The Senate passed one bill of local application only relating to Elmore County and 18 Sunset Bills continuing boards such as General Contractors, Accountancy, Real Estate Commission and Securities Commission.

The House and Senate return on Tuesday, February 24, at 1 pm and 2 pm respectively.

February 24, 2020 Group Watch: Bill Restricting Occupational Taxes Advances

A bill to require cities to get approval from the legislature before passing new occupational taxes or license taxes moved a step closer to passing, despite opposition from the mayors of the state’s 10 largest cities. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill by Rep. Chris Sells, which has already passed the House. The committee vote puts the bill in line for consideration by the Senate as early as next week.

February 24, 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

Feb 20

State leaders say this could be the most important census in Alabama history. Make #ALCount on March 12.

February 24, 2020 Group Watch: Lawmakers Move to Block Smoking in Cars with Kids

The House passed a bill last week to prohibit smoking or vaping in vehicles carrying children ages 14 and younger. Rep. Rolanda Hollis of Birmingham was the bill’s sponsor, and it passed by a vote of 78-19. The bill would impose a fine up to $100 for violations. Violations would be secondary offenses, meaning the police could only charge a driver if they stopped them on probable cause for a separate offense such as speeding or not wearing a seat belt.

February 24, 2020 Group Watch: Bill to Allow College Athletes Compensation Introduced in the House

A bill that would allow college athletes to make money off the use of their name and likeness was introduced in the House last week. The “Fair Pay to Play” bill, sponsored by Rep. Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery) is a hot topic and should see some good debate in coming weeks. California has already passed a similar law, and the NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to allow this type of player compensation in late 2019, but details on specifics are still being finalized. The bill also calls for the creation of an injury and wage account, funded by revenues from athletic events. The wages in the account would be evenly distributed to all athletes at the end of each year. The injury funds would be given to athletes suffering a career-ending injury; they would receive the funds once they graduate.

February 24, 2020 Group Watch: Blue Origin Opens AL Rocket Facility

Last week, Blue Origin opened a sprawling factory in Alabama’s “Rocket City” that will allow the spaceflight company to accelerate production of its heavy-lift BE-4 rocket engine and create hundreds of jobs. The BE-4, which is under development, will power Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket as well as the United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket, which is being produced at ULA’s factory in nearby Decatur. The company’s 350,0000-square-foot facility, located in Cummings Research Park. will employ more than 300 people with another 200 jobs over the next year.

February 24, 2020 Group Watch: Senate Committee Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

Last week, a medical marijuana bill cleared its first hurdle in the  legislature when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill by a vote of 8-1 (with one member abstaining). The bill by Republican Senator Tim Melson would allow people to be prescribed medical marijuana for 15 conditions including cancer, anxiety and chronic pain. They could purchase cannabis products at a licensed dispensary. The bill would allow marijuana in forms such as pills, gelatinous cubes, oils, skin patches, gels and creams. It would prohibit products consumed by smoking or vaping. The proposal now moves to the Senate.

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