3/12/2018 Group Watch: Senate Limits Payday Loan Terms

Last Thursday, The Alabama Senate voted 20-4 to approve a bill that increases the term of repayment for short-term loans to 30 days. Payday loans are short-term loans that extend from 10 to 31 days and can carry interest rates in Alabama that run up to 437 percent APR. Critics say people who take out a loan find themselves taking out a second loan to pay the first, trapping them in a cycle of debt. Senator Arthur Orr of Decatur sponsored the measure and acknowledges that it will be a challenge to get the bill through the House. Orr’s bill would require all loans to last 30 days, which would cut the APR in half.

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

The Legislature’s work last week got a step closer to putting more money in many Alabamians’ pockets, as the Senate passed bills to provide raises and bonuses for state workers and retirees.
  • On Tuesday (15th day of session): The House passed several bills of local application only and general bills to increase the criminal penalties for encouraging litigation; to authorize federally qualified health centers to deliver medications to clinics; and passed Senate-passed bills to further provide centralized waste treatment facilities and substituted a Senate-passed bill relating to the practice of dentistry, which now must be reconciled. The Senate passed bills of local application only and general bills to authorize certain healthcare providers to sign forms that may be signed by a physician; to provide for a one-time lump sum bonus to retired teachers; and to provide for a cost-of-living increase for active state workers.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day): The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to provide civil immunity to persons providing transportation to healthcare providers without compensation. The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved a bill defining the filing requirement threshold to be the sum on the standard deduction and personal exemptions. The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved a bill to authorize tax liens to be sold at auction to the bidder with the lowest interest rate. The House Education Policy Committee approved bills to create a Task Force on school safety and security and to revise the requirement of juvenile probation officers to provide certain information to schools regarding the crime of possessing deadly weapons on school property. The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved a bill to allow the direct shipment of alcoholic beverages to the consumer under certain conditions. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved a bill to allow an income tax credit offset only for liability derived from non-Alabama sources.
  • On Thursday (16th day of session): The House passed a number of bills of local application only and general bills to define warranties and remedies for the New Assistive Devices Warranty Act; to provide an income tax credit only offset tax liability derived from non-Alabama sources; and to authorize certain healthcare providers to sign forms that may be signed by a physicians. The Senate passed the Alabama Data Breach Notification Act and a bill to authorize the use of electronic communication for notification of persons relating to court costs and fees.

3/5/2018 Group Watch: Cavanaugh & Ainsworth Get Endorsements

Manufacture Alabama announced that it has endorsed Public Services Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh for lieutenant governor in the 2018 Republican primary, while the Alabama Forestry Association endorsed Will Ainsworth for the job with a tweet that asked its followers to consider supporting the candidate with a donation.  Manufacture Alabama President George Clark cited Cavanaugh’s conservative leadership, experience and reputation for the association’s endorsement and said she has proven herself to be a champion for manufacturers and an advocate for all Alabamians. Manufacture Alabama is the state’s only trade association dedicated to the competitive, legislative, regulatory and operational interests and needs of manufacturers and their partner industries and businesses.

3/5/2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 1
EXCITING NEWS! The Alabama House just passed our Silver Alert HB427. Thanks to @RepLauraHallD19 for sponsoring the bill. This is a huge step in the right direction. #ENDALZ

3/5/2018 Group Watch: 10 Commandments Bill Passes

The Alabama Senate approved a bill aimed at allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed in schools and at government buildings. Senators voted 23-3 for the proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday. The proposal, which would have to be approved by the voters, says the Ten Commandments can be displayed on public property. The displays would have to be mingled with other historical materials in an effort to pass constitutional concerns.

3/5/2018 Group Watch: State Worker Raise Looking More Likely

On Tuesday, state workers got a step closer to their first cost-of-living adjustment in 10 years. The Alabama Senate voted 28 to 1 to approve a three percent raise for state workers, and two measures that could extend bonuses to retired educators and state workers.Under the Senate-passed bill, retirees will be be paid $1 for every month of service. A person who worked 30 years would receive $360.

3/5/2018 Group Watch: Fantasy Sports May Come to AL

Last Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Tourism and Marketing unanimously approved SB325, sponsored by Senator Paul Sanford (R–Huntsville), which would allow “fantasy” sports companies to operate in the state. The bill stipulates that the companies (like DraftKings) would register with the attorney general and remit annual fees but be exempt from laws that prohibit gambling.

3/5/2018 Group Watch: AL Allows Statewide Ridesharing

Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill into law last Thursday that will allow statewide ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Alabama becomes the 45th state to allow such services. Prior to Governor Ivey signing the bill, such companies were only permitted to operate in select, approved cities. Now all communities, urban and rural, will have access to the services.

3/5/2018 Group Watch: Bill to Help Homebuyers Moves Forward

A bill that would provide tax deductions — up to $6,000 for an individual and $12,000 per couple annually for five years — was reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Finance and Taxation Education last week. The deduction only applies to money saved in an account to purchase either a first home or a “second-chance” home (meaning a home has not been purchased or owned in the previous five years).

3/5/2018 Group Watch: AL Unemployment Drop is Tops in Nation

Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington recently announced that Alabama’s unemployment rate decrease of 1.5 percent was the largest drop in year-over-year jobless rates in the country. In 2017, the state’s annual unemployment rate was 4.4 percent, down from the 2016 average of 5.9 percent. Washington said the number recognized the work that state, county and local governments, as well as Governor Kay Ivey and companies, have done to bring down unemployment. The January 2018 unemployment rate is scheduled to be released on March 12.

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