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2015 - Legislative Update Week 11

The Alabama Legislature has now completed the 24th legislative day of the 2015 regular legislative session. The General Fund budget passed out of the House and was assigned to the Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee. The General Fund budget is scheduled to be up in committee on Wednesday. The budget as passed in the House cuts General Fund agencies by an average of 11.1%. Governor Bentley has stated he would veto such a budget and call the legislature back into special session to address the lack of funding in the General Fund budget.

SB 453, sponsored by Senator Del Marsh, the lottery-gaming bill, passed out of committee and is pending on the Senate calendar. The revenue generated from this legislation is dedicated to the General Fund. Projections are that the revenue generated by SB 453 would exceed the shortfall in the General Fund budget giving the General Fund budget much needed growth revenues that it has lacked for three decades.

Bills that had movement this week or were introduced include:

HB 690, sponsored by Representative Craig Ford, would re-establish the DROP for state and education employees. HB 690 was assigned to the Ways & Means Education Committee.

SB 496, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, would alter the distribution of use tax revenues to 50% for the General Fund and 50% for the Education Trust Fund. This would increase revenues to the General Fund by $20 million in the current fiscal year (2015) and by $80 million annually thereafter. SB 496 was assigned to the Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee and is scheduled for committee debate on Tuesday.

SB 497, sponsored by Senator Greg Albritton and Senator Arthur Orr, would establish a factor presence nexus standard for business activity for purposes of income tax. SB 497 was assigned to the Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee and is scheduled for committee debate on Tuesday. It is estimated that SB 497 will potentially add up to $8.5 million in new revenues for the General Fund

SB 502, a Constitutional Amendment, sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial and others, would eliminate all requirements that limit the appropriation or spending of state revenues in a particular manner. SB 502 would further allow for a unified appropriations bill. SB 502 was assigned to the Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee and is scheduled for committee debate on Tuesday.

SB 115, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, would privatize ABC. Its enactment would cost well over 640 state employee jobs and may well cost the General Fund and General Fund agencies money. On Tuesday, SB 115 was again on the Senate Special Order calendar but after some debate SB 115 was carried over.

HB 135, the General Fund budget, sponsored by Representative Steve Clouse, as substituted, was assigned to the Senate Committee on Finance & Taxation. HB 135 cuts state agencies by an average of 11.1%. 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.

SB 476, sponsored by Senator Del Marsh, limits General Fund appropriations to Medicaid to 10% of total General Fund appropriations and Corrections to 5.5% of total General Fund appropriations. SB 476 was assigned to the Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee. On Wednesday, SB 476 was carried over in committee.

SB 444, sponsored by Senators Tim Melson and Arthur Orr, was assigned to the Governmental Affairs Committee. SB 444 would increase the probationary period for new state employee hires from six months to three years. On Tuesday, SB 444 was amended to a one-year probationary period for new hires. SB 444 is pending on the Senate calendar.

HB 554, sponsored by Representative Alan Baker, 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. HB 554 passed out of the House. HB 554 passed out of the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday and is now pending on the Senate Calendar.

SB 375, sponsored by Senator Author Orr, 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 has passed out of the Senate. SB 375 was amended and passed the House on Thursday.

HB 562, sponsored by Representative Ron Johnson, would increase the compensation ceiling for retirees who return to work on a part-time basis in state government. HB 562 passed the House and was assigned to the Senate Committee on Finance & Taxation Education.

SB 415, sponsored by Senator Trip Pittman and others, passed out of the Finance & Taxation Education Committee. SB 415 is pending on the Senate calendar. 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. On Tuesday, SB 415 was again on the Senate Special Order Calendar but after some Senate debate, SB 415 was carried over.

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 both Houses and is now pending action by the Governor.

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 76 is scheduled to be debated in committee Wednesday.

Other bills ASEA is tracking include:

HB 588 was pulled from consideration and should be dead for this session. HB 588, sponsored by Representative Lynn Greer, would require the Governor to order two mandatory furlough days, thus a two day pay cut, for state employees on days designated as state holidays.

HB 590 was pulled from consideration and should be dead for this session. HB 590, sponsored by Representative Arnold Mooney and others, would eliminate longevity pay for state employees in the upcoming fiscal year, FY 2016. Longevity pay is received by state employees on or about December 1st.

HB 572, sponsored by Representative Patricia Todd, would increase the fees on tobacco products. HB 572 passed out of the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee and is pending on the House calendar.

SB 76, sponsored by Senator Del Marsh, would consolidate functions of the Alabama Building Commission under the Finance Director. SB 76 passed the Senate and the House Committee on State Government. SB 76 is now pending on the House calendar.

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 out of the House State Government Committee and is pending on the House calendar.

HB 613, sponsored by Representative Matt Friday and others, was assigned to the State Government Committee. HB 613 would reduce by 50% (cut in half) mileage reimbursement paid by the state when an employee is required to use their personal vehicle for work. ASEA opposes this bill.

HB 267, sponsored by Representative Steve Clouse, would increase motor vehicle rental tax. HB 267 was assigned to Ways & Means General Fund Committee. HB 267 passed out of committee and is pending on the House calendar.

SB 411, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, 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. SB 411 passed out of the Senate and was assigned to the House Committee on Judiciary.

HB 456, sponsored by Representative Phil Williams, 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 and it passed out of committee. HB 456 is now pending on the House calendar.

SB 410, sponsored by Senator Shay Shelnutt and Senator Del Marsh, has passed out of the Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee. SB 410 is pending on the Senate calendar. 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.

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. The Governor has signed HB 39 into law.

HB 48, sponsored by Representative Mac McCutchen, would provide for the Office of the Ombudsman on Child Welfare (DHR). This legislation, as substituted, passed out of 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 out of the House Committee on Education Policy and is pending on the House calendar.

HB 542, sponsored by Representative Barry Moore and others, would allow a non-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 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 passed out of committee 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 is pending on the Senate Calendar. vSB 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 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 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 and is now pending action on the Senate calendar.

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 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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