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2015 - Legislative Update Week 7

The Alabama Legislature has now completed the 16th legislative day of the 2015 regular legislative session. The General Fund budget is scheduled for debate in the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee on Wednesday. Without the inclusion of additional revenue and without transfer from the Education budget, General Fund agencies will be cut some 16%. While all of Alabama would be hit hard, the most severe cuts would be to non-metropolitan/rural areas. Please continue to write, email, and call your House and Senate members and encourage them to pass revenue and to protect state employees. As you will see below, state employees must be heard so continue your outreach efforts this weekend.

Bills that had movement this week or were introduced include:

SB 410, sponsored by Senator Shay Shelnutt and Senator Del Marsh, was assigned to the Senate Committee on Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee. SB 410 provides that Confederate Memorial Day and Jefferson Davis’ birthday are unpaid holidays, unless designated otherwise by the Governor; to provide for the designation of two additional paid holidays for state employees under certain conditions; to limit the number of paid state holidays for state employees; and to limit the leave or compensation to the lessor of eight hours or the time worked; and to define a state holiday as an eight-hour day. In essence this legislation would cut two holidays for state employees and would have the effect of a pay cut. ASEA opposes this legislation and has requested a public hearing.

SB 415, sponsored by Senator Trip Pittman and others, was assigned to the Senate Committee on Finance & Taxation Education. SB 415 would amend Section 36-26-27, Code of Alabama 1975, to revise the procedures for review of the dismissal of classified employees by an appointing authority; to specify when the State Personnel Board may reverse or modify the dismissal; and to provide for the venue of judicial review of action by the State Personnel Board. ASEA opposes this legislation and has requested a public hearing.

SB 411, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, was assigned to the Senate Committee on Finance & Taxation General Fund. SB 411 would amend Section 36-27B-1, Code of Alabama 1975, relating to preretirement death benefits for judges, clerks and district attorneys; to establish the Judges’ and Clerks’ Plan for retirement for justices, judges, and circuit clerks; to establish the District Attorney’s Plan for retirement for district attorneys; and to provide guidelines for the plans.

HB 542, sponsored by Representative Barry Moore and others, would allow a now-elected department head to receive a year-end bonus equal to the percentage of reduction in the annual budget of the department. ASEA opposes this bill and has asked for a public hearing. HB 542 was assigned to the House Committee on State Government.

HB 554, sponsored by Representative Alan Baker and others, would transfer various duties and functions having to do with job training and workforce development from ADECA and post-secondary education to the Department of Commerce.

SB 115, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, was assigned to the Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee. This bill privatizes ABC. Its enactment would cost well over 640 state employee jobs and may well cost the General Fund and General Fund agencies money. On April 8th, a public hearing was held on this legislation. SB 115 failed to receive committee approval. On Wednesday, April 22nd, SB 115 was reconsidered and was passed out of committee.

HB 39, sponsored by Representative Donnie Chesteen, would require the state to provide state employees and education employees with a list of their benefits and value of said benefits annually. It passed the House of Representatives and the Senate and is awaiting action by the Governor.

HB 48, sponsored by Representative Mac McCutchen, was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. HB 48 would provide for the Office of the Ombudsman on Child Welfare (DHR). This legislation was substituted in committee and is pending on the House calendar.

HB 90, sponsored by Representative Mike Holmes, was assigned to the House Education Policy Committee. HB 90 passed the House Committee on Education Policy and is now pending on the House calendar. HB 90 and its companion bill SB 24, by Senator Clay Scofield, would merge certain employees from post-secondary education into the Department of Labor under the Merit System. SB 24 passed the Senate as substituted and was assigned to the House Committee on Education Policy. SB 24 was passed out of committee on Wednesday and is pending on the House calendar.

HB 490, sponsored by Representative Steve Clause, was assigned to the House Ways & Means General Fund. HB 490 would revise the repayment schedule for funds transferred from the Alabama Trust Fund to provide for the repayment not later than September 30, 2027. HB 490 was passed out of committee on Wednesday and is pending on the House calendar.

SB 355, sponsored by Senator Greg Albritton and Jabo Waggoner, was assigned to the Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund. SB 355 would remove State Personnel Board members from the State Employee Insurance Board and create appointments to fill those positions. SB 355 was passed out of committee as amended on Wednesday and is pending on the Senate Calendar.

SB 375, sponsored by Senator Author Orr, was assigned to the Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund. SB 375 would provide flexibility to state agencies to utilize state revenue for purposes in addition to the stated purpose. This legislation would effectively un-earmark funds within a department unless specified by statute, constitutional amendment or by court decision. SB 375 was passed out of committee on Wednesday.

HB 456, sponsored by Representative Phil Williams, was assigned to the House Committee on Ways & Means General Fund. HB 456 would require an independent audit of RSA and its investment portfolio every two years and that the results of said audit be provided to the legislature. A public hearing was held on HB 456 on Wednesday; however, no action was taken.

Other bills ASEA is tracking include:

SB 76, sponsored by Senator Del Marsh, was assigned to Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. This legislation would consolidate functions of the Alabama Building Commission under the Finance Director. The Senate debated SB 76 on Thursday, April 16th. SB 76 was substituted and carried over to the call of the Chair.

SB 212, sponsored by Senators Tim Melson, Dick Brewbaker, Shay Shelnutt, Larry Stutts, Greg Albritton and Arthur Orr, would allow state agencies to have up to two additional exempt employees. SB 212 passed the Senate and was assigned to the House Committee on State Government.

SB 203, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, would merge the Department of Forestry into the Department of Agriculture. SB 203 was assigned to the Finance and Taxation Committee.

SB 216, sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, would allow a state agency to levy or assess fees that are retained by the agency to fund its operations. SB 216 was assigned to the Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee.

HB 29, sponsored by Representative Randy Wood, would allow a member of ERS who is out of state service for a job related injury to purchase credit for such time. This legislation has passed the House of Representatives and was assigned to the Senate Committee on Finance & Taxation Education.

HB 224, sponsored by Representative Steve McMillian, was assigned to the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee. This legislation would tax tobacco products, including consumable vapor products.

HB 267, sponsored by Representative Steve Clouse, would increase motor vehicle rental tax to 4%. HB 267 was assigned to Ways & Means General Fund Committee.

HB 268, sponsored by Representative Steve Clouse, would increase the sales and use tax on motor vehicles to 3%. HB 268 was assigned to Ways & Means General Fund Committee.

HB 276, sponsored by Representative Chris England, was referred to the Ways & Means General Fund Committee. HB 276 would impose a license tax of 2.2% on any public, private or municipal utility.

HB 277, sponsored by Representative John Knight, was referred to the Ways & Means General Fund Committee. HB 277 would remove tax credits from the insurance premium tax, thus increasing revenue to the General Fund.

SB 100, sponsored by Senator Rusty Glover, was assigned to the Governmental Affairs Committee. This legislation would remove the cap on donated sick leave. After much debate this legislation passed out of committee on March 31st and is now pending action on the Senate calendar.

HB 45, sponsored by Representative Patricia Todd and HB 139, sponsored by Representative Steve McMillian, would increase the fees currently charged on tobacco products. Both bills are pending in the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee.

HB 76, sponsored by Representatives Randall Shedd and Ed Henry, was assigned to the House Committee on State Government. This legislation would create a committee for performance-based pay applicable to all state agencies. The legislation would base state employee pay on performance of the agency or department they worked for. This legislation would seem to circumvent the Merit System. ASEA opposes this legislation.

HB 100, by Representatives John Rogers and Mary Moore, was assigned to the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee. This legislation would place all correctional officers, law enforcement officers and state police employees under Tier I of the Retirement Systems of Alabama regardless of their hire date.

HB 114, a Constitutional Amendment, sponsored by Representative Thad McClammy, would provide a COLA for state employees may not become effective unless the increase also applies to public education employees and retired state and public education employees. HB 114 was assigned to the House Committee on Ways & Means Education.

HB 135, the Governor’s General Fund budget, sponsored by Representative Steve Clouse. The General Fund budget generally level funds state agencies with increases to Corrections and Medicaid. Retirement, the state’s contribution as mandated by law, is funded. State employee health insurance is funded at a 3% increase over the current year’s budget but less than the amount requested by the SEHIP. HB 135 is scheduled for debate on Wednesday.

HB 455, sponsored by Representatives Richard Lindsay and Rod Scott, would require combined reporting for determining Alabama taxable income. HB 455 was assigned to the Ways & Means Education Committee.

HB 471, sponsored by Representative Craig Ford and others, a Constitutional Amendment, was assigned to the House Committee on Constitution, Campaigns & Elections. HB 471 would provide for a lottery to fund Medicaid.

HB 475, sponsored by Representative John Knight, a Constitutional Amendment, was assigned to the Ways & Means Education Committee. HB 475 would repeal the state exemption for payment of federal income tax.

HB 477, sponsored by Representative John Knight, a Constitutional Amendment, was assigned to Ways & Means General Fund Committee. This legislation would increase state property tax by 1 mill with proceeds going to the General Fund.

HB 478, sponsored by Representative John Knight, a Constitutional Amendment, was assigned to Ways & Means General Fund Committee. This legislation would repeal the state exemption for payment of federal income tax and would exempt food and over-the-counter drugs from state sales tax.

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