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2016 Legislative Update - Week 12

The legislature has now completed its 28th legislative day with 1004 bills introduced. The House and Senate met Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with committee meetings held each day. The House and Senate Joint Committee on Medicaid held its second meeting Wednesday. This committee is scheduled to meet again this coming week.

As predicted, this week was dominated by debate over the distribution of the BP Deep Horizon oil settlement (SB 267, sponsored by Senator Bill Hightower and Representative Randy Davis, and HB 569, sponsored by Representative Steve Clouse). HB 569 passed the House on Thursday night. The legislation now goes to the Senate where it will be in committee on Tuesday. HB 569 would monitize the BP settlement in order that bonds could be issued. Those bonds would be used to pay off a significant portion of the General Fund debt to the Alabama Trust Fund and the rainy day account. Additionally, some money will be used to help reduce Medicaid’s funding deficit with the remainder going to fund road projects in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

After a long debate, SB 287, sponsored by Senator Trip Pittman and Representative Mike Jones, as substituted and amended, passed the House and is pending Senate Concurrence. SB 287 provides for the construction of four new prisons. In the substitute, sponsored by Representative Mike Jones, and in an amendment by Representative John Knight and Representative Napoleon Bracy, language that may have allowed for prison privatization was removed.

HB 466, sponsored by Representative Phil Williams, would require all new employees hired on or after January 1, 2017 to contribute monthly to an individual retirement account but does provide an opt-out within the first 90 days of employment. HB 466, as substituted in committee, passed the House and was voted out of the Senate Committee on Finance and Taxation Education. HB 466 is now pending on the Senate calendar.

SB 260, a Constitutional Amendment sponsored by Senator Clay Scofield, will prevent the transfer of State Parks funds. SB 260 passed both Houses and will now be voted on by the people at the next general election.

Bills that ASEA monitored this session include:

SB 136, sponsored by Senator Vivian Davis Figures and others, would have increased the tax on property by 5 mils earmarking such monies to, in part, fund Medicaid. SB 136 passed out of the Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee but on Thursday SB 136 was indefinitely postponed.

HB 467, sponsored by Representative Phil Williams, and SB 376, sponsored by Senator Paul Bussman, would have specified what information should be included in the ERS and TRS Boards of Control annual and actuarial reports. It also required the adoption of certain reporting standards. On Thursday, both HB 467 and SB 376 were indefinitely postponed.

HB 468, sponsored by Representative Phil Williams, and its Senate companion bill SB 387, sponsored by Senator Larry Stutts, would have provideed certain governance provisions for investing and managing for the ERS and TRS Boards of Control. On Thursday, both HB 468 and SB 387 were indefinitely postponed.

SB 15, sponsored by Senator Cam Ward, would have un-earmarked state monies that were not originally earmarked by Constitutional Amendment. On Thursday, SB 15 was indefinitely postponed.

SB 87, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, a Constitutional Amendment, would have permitted state parks with sleeping facilities and/or golf courses to be privatized. Senator Billy Beasley's amendment that was unanimously approved which would have required any money generated by this act to remain in the State Park system thereby protecting state employee jobs. On Thursday, SB 87 was indefinitely postponed.

SB 130, sponsored by Senator Paul Sanford, would have provided for the distribution of use tax funds to the General Fund.

SB 187, sponsored by Senator Phil Williams, and HB 5 and HB 17, sponsored by Representative Mike Hill, were bills that would have required state employees to be automatically enrolled in the state’s deferred compensation plan and would have allowed for the employee, after a set period of time, to opt out of said enrollment. HB 17 was debated in committee and carried over. On Thursday, SB 187 was indefinitely postponed.

SB 190, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, would have tied mileage, when a state employee is required to use their personal vehicle at work, to a quarterly adjusted rate based in part on the AAA Dailey Fuel Gauge Report for Alabama.

SB 191, sponsored by Senator Clyde Chambliss, and HB 155, sponsored by Representative Dimitri Polizos, would have provided a state employee pay raise/COLA of 2%.

SB 272, sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, would have increased the use tax while phasing out the tax on groceries over a two-year period of time.

SB 292, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, the ABC privatization bill that would have eliminated retail ABC stores over a five-year period. This legislation would have resulted in the loss/layoff of well over 600 state employees. On Thursday, SB 292 was indefinitely postponed.

HB 13, sponsored by Representative Alan Harper, and SB 19, sponsored by Senator Jim McClendon, are Constitutional Amendments that would have allowed a vote on whether the State of Alabama will authorize a lottery. HB 10, HB 208 and HB 209, sponsored by Representative Craig Ford, would have provided for a lottery with proceeds going to a college scholarship fund. On Thursday, HB 13 was indefinitely postponed.

HB 31, sponsored by Representative Matt Fridy, would have cut mileage reimbursement by 25% when state employees are required to use their personal vehicles in their state jobs. ASEA strongly opposed this legislation.

HB 63, HB 64, HB 90, HB 91 and HB 92, all sponsored by Representative Lynn Greer, would have subjected deferred contribution and/or deferred benefits plan payments to state taxation at various levels.

HB 79, sponsored by Representative Chris Pringle, would have made it a crime for the driver of a motor vehicle to endanger the life of a highway worker in a construction zone. This legislation was referred to a sub-committee.

HB 263, sponsored by Representative John Knight, would have removed the prohibition on lotteries.

HB 346, sponsored by Representative Greer, would have automatically enrolled new employees into RSA’s deferred compensation plan and would allow for the employee, after a set period of time, to opt out of said enrollment.

HB 377, sponsored by Paul Beckman, would have established the Office of the Ombudsman for Child Welfare at the Department of Human Resources. After debate during the committee meeting, HB 377 was referred to a sub-committee.

HB 459, sponsored by Representative Phillip Pettus, would have combined the State Employees Health Insurance Plan and the Public Education Employees Health Insurance Plan. The new plan would have been called the Public Employees Health Insurance Plan and would be governed by a new Board, the Public Employees Health Insurance Board.

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