May 8, 2023 Group Watch: AL House Passes Bill to Protect Overtime Pay from State Income Tax

The Alabama House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill to exempt overtime pay from the state income tax, an idea lawmakers praised as innovative. The bill’s sponsor said it would help employees by allowing them to keep more of what they earn. The bill says earnings received by a full-time hourly employee for work performed in excess of 40 hours in a week does not count as gross income for purposes of the state income tax, which carries a 5 percent rate. The bill says the exemption will expire after three years unless the legislature extends it. That will provide a chance to evaluate the impact of the exemption since the idea has not been tried before. The fiscal note from the Legislative Services Agency estimates that the bill would reduce revenue to the Education Trust Fund by $45 million a year.

May 8, 2023 Group Watch: Tuskegee University, Alabama Exporters Earn Awards

Governor Kay Ivey recognized six Alabama companies with 2023 Governor’s Trade Excellence Awards for success in selling their goods and services in markets across the globe, helping to sustain robust export activities that create jobs and spark economic growth across the state. She also recognized Tuskegee University, presenting the institution with a Governor’s Trade Excellence Award for extraordinary results in its international initiatives that include partnerships with dozens of overseas universities and hosting students from more than 20 countries in recent years. The recipients of this year’s Governor’s Trade Excellence Awards represent a broad swath of activities within the state’s economy, ranging from aerospace/defense, industrial consultancy, food production, forestry, automotive manufacturing and medical devices. 

May 1, 2023 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Several big bills moved through the legislature this week, including a record-sized General Fund Budget. The $3 billion budget unanimously passed the House and includes a modest pay raise for state employees.

The Senate was also in full agreement on a bill last week. All 35 Alabama senators signed on as co-sponsors to support legislation that will cut Alabama’s taxes on groceries by 50 percent this year, with a plan to eventually reach zero taxes on food and other basic grocery items. 

Read more on these topics and other #alpolitics happenings below.

The House and Senate will reconvene on
Tuesday, May 2 at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively.

May 1, 2023 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

April 28
It is always encouraging to see our students loving to learn about our state and this nation. Thank you, Amelia, for sharing your photos with us! Maybe one day, you could be sitting at the governor’s desk. I have to say, you certainly look the part! #alpolitics

May 1, 2023 Group Watch: Day-by-Day, Play-by-Play

On Tuesday (14th day of regular session): 

  • The House passed general bills to provide for the $3 billion budget for governmental operations for the 2024 fiscal year; a supplemental appropriations bill for a number of agencies for the current fiscal year; to establish the Medicaid Emergency Reserve Fund and to provide for the withdrawal and use of amounts deposited into the fund; to make a $39 million appropriation from the Children Trust Fund for the 2024 fiscal year to specific agencies; to establish the Preceptor Tax Incentive Program to provide income tax credit incentives for certain medical students who train in rural and underserved counties in the state; and to provide a cost-of-living increase for state employees for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2023.
  • The Senate gave final approval to House-passed bills to further provide for the scope of Social Work Practice and to further provide that the term healthcare provider includes emergency medical services personnel. It also approved bills to revise the circumstances under which the Alabama Medicaid Agency may revise the ceiling for the Medicaid reimbursement rate to nursing facilities during a given fiscal year and a bill to require the ethics commission to provide an alleged violator with exculpatory evidence.

On Wednesday (committee day only):

  • The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved bills to increase the exemption for taxable retirement income for individuals who are 65 years of age or older and to exclude hours worked above 40 in any given week from gross income. 
  • The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee approved a bill to provide for the charging of a reasonable fee for services provided by the Department of Finance and to allow the State Comptroller to pay a vendor which is entitled to payment for services or goods rendered to the State. 
  • The House Health Committee approved a Senate-passed bill to prohibit the sale, distribution, marketing or possession of psychoactive cannabinoids found in hemp for certain age groups. 
  • The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved several bills including a bill to authorize the use of up to eight weeks of sick leave for attending to an ill child for when a petition for adoption has been filed and attending to an adopted child. 
  • The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee approved a House-passed bill to further provide for the salary of all circuit clerks in the Unified Judicial System based on the pay plan adopted by the personnel system of the Unified Judicial System. 
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee approved several bills including bills to provide for the crime of retail theft in various degrees; to provide that a prisoner is not eligible for parole if charged with a new offense that has not been disposed; to create the crime of making a terrorist threat in the second degree and to establish penalties for violations; to provide that it is unlawful to discharge a firearm on school property; and to revise the criminal penalties for violations of fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement. 
  • The Senate Education Policy Committee approved bills to require students to complete a personal financial literacy and money management course before graduation and to prohibit a biological male from participating on an athletic team or sport designated for females.

On Thursday (15th day of of regular session):

  • The House passed general bills to further provide for income tax deductions on health insurance premiums; to prohibit requiring microchipping of employees; and to require the use of certain refrigerants and refrigerant-equipped products in compliance with federal law. 
  • The Senate passed bills to further provide for the compensation of retired law enforcement officers providing services as school resource officers; to authorize paid family leave benefit policies; and to further provide for pretrial supervision of certain offenders by a community punishment and corrections program as a condition of bond in certain circumstances.

May 1, 2023 Group Watch: House Passes General Fund Budget

The Alabama House passed the state’s General Fund budget, providing for annual spending of more than $3 billion. The budget, which is inline with Governor Ivey’s priorities but larger than her proposal, passed by a vote of 105-0 after a brief discussion led by the sponsor of the bill. The General Fund is for non-education state programs and includes agencies such as Medicaid, prisons, mental health, the court system, the Department of Human Resources, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Pardons and Paroles. The budget, which is for the fiscal year starting October 1, includes a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for state workers. Read more here.

May 1, 2023 Group Watch: Legislature Passes Vaping Ban in Vehicles with Kids

The legislature passed a bill to ban smoking or vaping  in a vehicle that is carrying passengers 14 or younger. Last week, with a 30-0 vote, the Senate gave final approval to a House-passed bill that makes it a secondary violation, meaning that police could only charge a violator if they stopped a vehicle for a separate violation, like speeding, and issue a ticket for that offense. Violators of the new law would face a fine of up to $100. The prohibition on smoking applies regardless of whether the vehicle windows are rolled down or whether the vehicle is in motion or parked. Read more here.

May 1, 2023 Group Watch: Bill Increases Funding For Alabama Sheriffs 

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to provide more money to county sheriffs to offset the loss of funds caused by the repeal of the requirement for a permit to carry concealed handguns. Lawmakers created a “Local Government Pistol Permit Revenue Loss Fund” last year, intended to replace some of the money. It allocated $5 million a year, or enough to maintain a balance of $2 million in the fund. That funding is in place for three years. The bill passed this week would increase that to $7.5 million a year and extend the funding through fiscal year 2028.

May 1, 2023 Group Watch: Grocery Tax Cut Supported By Full Senate

All members of the Alabama Senate have signed onto a proposal to cut the grocery tax in half this year, with a full cut on the way. The fact that all 35 Senators have signed on as co-sponsors makes the bill by Sen. Andrew Jones the frontrunner. Alabama has a sales tax rate of 4 percent, and some local jurisdictions impose an additional sales tax of up to 7 percent, making the total sales tax rate in certain parts of the state as high as 11 percent. The bill would begin phasing out the state sales and use tax on food September 1. Jones’ bill comes at a time the state has record budget surpluses and the highest employment rate in the history of the state. The bill does not require any offsetting tax increases, and is estimated to cut taxes by $304 million.

May 1, 2023 Group Watch: Bill Filed to Ban CCP Ownership of AL Land

House majority leader Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle) filed The Alabama Property Protection Act last week. The legislation would ban China from buying and owning Alabama land, protecting both the state’s agricultural resources but also the multiple military bases and sites within the state. The bill is similar to legislation being spearheaded by Senator Katie Britt at the federal level. Read more here.

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