2/19/2018 Group Watch: Data Breach Bills

Two bills, one in the Senate and one in the House, both called the Alabama Data Breach Notification Act, have been introduced and if passed, will hold both public and private entities that store sensitive information more accountable for that information’s security. The Senate version will be taken up in committee this wee

February 12, 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Last week, The Alabama Legislature focused again on local bills, but in addition, it passed a bill to allow the phrase “In God We Trust” on state property.
  • On Tuesday (9th day of session): The Housepassed several bills of local application only and general bills to allow the Marriage and Family Therapy Board to further define the practice to include diagnosis of mental and emotional problems; to permit Pharmaceutical Services Providers to petition the Department of Revenue for direct refund of overpayment of supplemental privilege tax; and to permit state agencies to use the motto “In God We Trust” in and on building and vehicles. The Senate passed several bills of local application only and general bills to further provide education reimbursement for those serving in the National Guard; to increase the fees for reinstatement when a person is getting reinstatement after failing to maintain mandatory liability insurance; to further provide municipalities with exceptions when dealing with summons and complaints in lieu of arrest; and to further provide for considerations relating to DUI and penalties.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day): The House Ways and Means General Fund Committeeapproved bills to reopen the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) and to extend the private hospital assessment and Medicaid funding for the 2019 fiscal year. The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved the Education Trust Fund Budget; a bill to provide salary increases to K-12 employees; and several appropriation bills that travel with the budget including a supplemental appropriation for select entities for the current fiscal year. The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to allow the mayor to authorize the remittance of court costs imposed by the municipal judge. The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved a bill to authorize the sale of tax liens be sold at auction to the bidder with the lowest interest rate. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved bills to provide a one-time lump sum retirement payment and to provide business privilege tax credits to beginning farmers.
  • On Thursday (10th day of session): The House continued to pass bills of local application only in addition to general bills to permit the Department of Transportation to require bids on road projects in excess of $250,000; to establish a tax amnesty program; and to require vehicles to move over when approaching vehicles with flashing lights.  The Senate passed several bills of local application only and general bills to provide tax credits for Neighborhood Infrastructure Authorities; to exempt the sales of gold bullions from sales and use tax; and to criminalize the taking of a video or photo depicting intimate areas of a person without the person’s consent.

2/12/2018 Group Watch: Italy in Tuskegee

Italy gave the Tuskegee Airmen a home. Now, an Italian corporation hopes to make its home in Alabama for what could be a transformational project. Italian ambassador Armando Varricchio visited Moton Field in Tuskegee last week, touring the training home of the celebrated World War II fighter pilots. Along with the ambassador was William Lynn III, CEO of Leonardo DRS, the North American arm of the Italian aeronautics and defense contractor. The company plans to build the T-100 trainer jet for the U.S. Air Force at Tuskegee if the contract is awarded. That decision by the U.S. Force is expected this summer.

2/12/2018 Group Watch: Education Budget Passes Committee

Last week, the the Education Trust Fund Budget easily made its way out of the House committee with support from Republicans and Democrats. At $6.63 billion — more the $200 million larger than last year’s ETF Budget — (thanks to a steadily improving economy), it allows for a 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers. It also has a bump up in funding for the Public Education Employee Health Insurance Program, and the state’s popular and praised Pre-K program would get increased funding too. Most work on budget bills takes place in committee and with so little controversy and debate, it is expected that the bill will likely pass into law very close to its current form.

2/12/2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

Feb 10: Prom Night was a HUGE success! Making new friends with big smiles and even BIGGER hearts. What an awesome experience ! #NightToShine #BeABlessing #AllGlory2God

2/12/2018 Group Watch: “In God We Trust Bill” Passes

The Alabama House voted to allow the phrase “In God We Trust” on public buildings, but only after debate on the bill went far off track. Black legislators accused a member of twisting history. Speaking for the bill, Rep. Arnold Mooney said the phrase is from the national anthem, and noted Francis Scott Key once argued slaves on a captured ship should return to Africa. Black legislators reminded him that Key once owned slaves and his third stanza is thought to celebrate the deaths of escaped slaves who fought with the British. The bill eventually passed 91-4, and the bill’s sponsor clarified that people can choose to put the phrase on state property.

2/12/2018 Group Watch: Gov. Aids Economic Development

A bill that allows county commissions the flexibility to give abatements on all or portions of county ad valorem taxes due on properties was signed into law by Governor Ivey last week. Putting this power in the hands of local officials should help economic development projects, and the properties have to meet certain criteria: they must be used for a project that qualifies for economic incentives under the Alabama Jobs Act, and the project must include more than $50 million in investment.

2/12/2018 Group Watch: Anti-Voyeurism Bill Passes Senate

The Alabama Senate passed a bill last Thursday that would make it a crime to take photos or videos of a person’s private parts without their consent in areas where they can expect privacy. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Clyde Chambliss, passed 27-0. Senate Chambliss described the passing of the bill as the beginning of a process of justice for a lot of victims. The bill creates a first degree crime of voyeurism, making it a class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

February 5, 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature convened last Tuesday and got lots of local business done in addition to the House passing a bill affecting childcare programs.
  • On Tuesday (7th day of session): The House worked late into the evening, passing several bills of local application only and general bills to require youth sports personnel to complete a youth injury mitigation course annually; to require transportation network companies to meet minimum requirements by the Public Services Commission; and a Senate-passed bill to bring the Alabama Family Trust Corporation in compliance with federal Social Security law. The Senate passed several bills of local application only, and general bills to require the Department of Revenue to employ auction companies to sell state land; sunset legislation to continue the State Pilotage Commission; to provide grants with a local match for educational programs for gifted/talented children; and to increase the penalties for human trafficking.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day): The House Judiciary Committee approved bills to provide for the use of deadly force in churches in defense of self or others and to authorize police powers for Poarch Creek Indians. The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee approved bills for appropriations to Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Children First Trust Fund. The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved bills that further provide for municipalities who chose to have council-manager form of government. The House State Government Committee approved a bill to require the Department of Transportation to have competitive bidding on road projects in excess of $250,000. The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee approved bills to establish a revised school bus depreciation schedule and to provide a tax credit for private intrastate adoptions.
  • On Thursday (8th day of session): The House passed a few bills of local application only and a significant general bill to provide for licensing of church based child care facilities with floor amendments. They also gave final approval to Senate-approved measures to continue the following agencies: Board of Home Medical Equipment, Sickle Cell Oversight and Regulatory Commission, State Board of Prosthetists and Orthotists, Surface Mining Commission and State Oil and Gas Board and Elevator Safety Review Board. The Senate passed several bills of local application only before adjournment.

2/5/2018 Group Watch: AL’s Top Attractions

The Alabama Department of Tourism recently released its list of most visited tourism attractions in 2017. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville took the top spot, with the Birmingham Zoo,Huntsville Botanical Gardens, the McWane Science Center (Birmingham) next. The Montgomery Zoo came in at number 8. Other sites ahead of the Montgomery Zoo were the Barber Vintage Motorsports Park in Birmingham, the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile and Point Mallard in Decatur. Behind Montgomery Zoo were the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, EarlyWorks Family of Museums in Huntsville and Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham.

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