2016 Legislative Wrap-Up
The 2016 Legislative Session has ended and, per usual, it was exciting until the very last minute. SB 287, the Prison Transformation Initiative Act, after a long day of back and forth conference committees, finally passed the Senate with an hour left in the final day, but ultimately died in the House. The amended bill that made it to the House had significantly changed from its earlier version with a $550 million bond to fund two men’s facilities and a women’s facility.
SB 267, the BP Deep Horizon oil settlement bill, also failed to pass out of the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee after disagreements about road funding shut down negotiations. This is significant because this bill had $70 million that would have gone towards the shortfall in Medicaid.
The failure of both of these bills is a disappointment because they both affect state employees. Employees at the Department of Corrections are working in conditions that are dangerous and new facilities would offer safer working conditions. With the shortfall at Medicaid, programs could be cut or scaled back making workloads that much larger for employees at the agency. For both failed bills, ASEA will be working to ensure that when they do present them again, state employees are protected under any new legislation.
The end of this session shows how important your membership is. ASEA was very successful in beating back many pieces of legislation that would have hurt state employees. You have read week in and week out how many pieces of legislation could have impacted the lives of state employees. The RSA bills, mileage legislation, and the privatization of ABC were all stopped because ASEA was fighting for you.
Unfortunately, what we all wanted was a COLA and that never came to fruition. ASEA has made huge strides in educating legislators on the importance of granting a COLA, but with the economic shape of the General Fund, COLA’s are just not a reality. Between now and next session, ASEA will continue to advocate for new revenue to help fund a COLA next session.
With the craziness that has surrounded Montgomery and state government this session, we could not be more pleased with the end result. Remember, although the session is over for now, rumors of a Special Session and the funding of our insurance still loom on the horizon.
Below is the status of all the bills ASEA was tracking.
SB 15, sponsored by Senator Cam Ward, would have un-earmarked state monies that were not originally earmarked by Constitutional Amendment. SB 15 is dead for the session.
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. SB 87 is dead for the session.
SB 130, sponsored by Senator Paul Sanford, would have provided for the distribution of use tax funds to the General Fund. SB 130 is dead for the session.
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 is dead for the session.
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. All are dead for the session.
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 190 is dead for the session.
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 191 is dead for the session.
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.
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 272 is dead for the session.
SB 292, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, the ABC privatization bill that would have eliminated retail ABC stores over a five-year period. SB 292 is dead for the session.
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. All are dead for the session.
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. HB 31 is dead for the session.
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. All are dead for the session.
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. HB 79 is dead for the session. ASEA has already discussed with Representative Chris Pringle bringing a version of this legislation up next year.
HB 263, sponsored by Representative John Knight, would have removed the prohibition on lotteries. HB 263 is dead for the session.
HB 346, sponsored by Representative Lynn 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 346 is dead for the session.
HB 377, sponsored by Paul Beckman, would have established the Office of the Ombudsman for Child Welfare at the Department of Human Resources. HB 377 is dead for the session.
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. HB 459 is dead for the session.
HB 466, sponsored by Representative Phil Williams, would have required 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 is dead for the session.
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. Both bills are dead for the session.
HB 468, sponsored by Representative Phil Williams, and its Senate companion bill SB 387, sponsored by Senator Larry Stutts, would have provided certain governance provisions for investing and managing for the ERS and TRS Boards of Control. Both are dead for the session.