What a crazy and cold week! The winter weather threw the legislative session and everyone involved with it off schedule. Tuesday was the only normal day this week. On Tuesday, the House passed three bills to help Alabama veterans. These bills would provide free, year-round admission to all state parks for all active military personnel and veterans; improve the tax credit businesses would get for hiring unemployed veterans; and another would give veteran owned businesses an advantage in winning state contracts. Additionally, the House held its’ Military and Veterans Appreciation Day honoring a number of veterans including two Alabama Medal of Honor winners. The Senate convened and passed sunset bills. Neither chamber passed education related bills.
Wednesday everyone stayed home to enjoy the snow and stay warm! Therefore, all committee meetings were rescheduled to Thursday.
Although the Governor in her State of Emergency said all state agencies were to be closed till noon on Thursday, the Legislature started earlier. At 10:00 a.m. the Senate convened and committee meetings began.
Senate Finance & Taxation Education committee gave three education related bills favorable reports.
- SB14 by Sen. Gerald Dial requires all K-12 teachers give a 30-day notice of terminating their employment any time of the year.
- SB22 by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, would add the requirement to post personnel vacancies to the local board’s website, and change the time it must be posted before the position is filled from 14 days to 7 days.
- SB28 by Sen. Trip Pittman repeals a criminal statute that provides conflicting procedures found in the Students First Act. If passed, would allow local school boards to start due process procedures without waiting for criminal proceedings to be complete.
Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund had a packed room for a public hearing.
- SB130 by Sen. Trip Pittman. In 2015, the Legislature created the Simplified Sellers Use Tax (SSUT). It allows online sellers with no stores in Alabama to voluntarily collect an 8 percent use tax on sales to Alabama customers. The use tax is the sales tax on out-of-state purchases.The SSUT provided a way for Alabama to capture tax dollars lost as customers make more of their retail purchases online. The state collected $56 million from the SSUT during the 2017 budget year. Half of the money goes to the state, while counties and cities split the other half, allocated by population. Amazon signed up for the SSUT and, as the largest online retailer, collects a large share of the state total. But Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods will give it a physical presence in Alabama because Whole Foods has five stores in the state. That means Amazon is no longer eligible for the SSUT, some officials said. The bill raised concerns from city officials and school systems who say it would open the door to other online retailers with stores in Alabama, like Walmart.com, to participate in the SSUT and collect the 8 percent tax on sales instead of the higher rate on sales in their cities, leaving a big hole in the budget . The bill is hard to understand, and after much discussion in the committee meeting Pittman opted not to have the committee vote on the bill, but said he plans to bring it back after some negotiations. The bill was carried over.
Bills in Committee:
- Tuesday, January 23
- Senate Finance & Taxation Education
- SB101 - This bill would authorize the State Department of Education, pending available funds, to offer competitive two-year grants to public schools for the purpose of developing new educational programs or continuing existing educational programs for gifted or talented children.
- Wednesday, January 24
- Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund
- SB132 - Re-establishes the Education Trust Fund Rainy Day Account and creates the General Fund Rainy Day Account.
- House State Government
- HB69 - Under existing law, all portions of a public works project are required to be bid and otherwise comply with the public works law. This bill would allow for certain exceptions for contracting for the purchase and installation of heating or air conditioning units or systems for county, municipal, and local school board entities when the purchase and installation of the units or systems have been competitively bid pursuant to the purchasing cooperative and the bid process has been approved by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts.
Convene Report - The House will convene Tuesday, January 23 at 3:00, and the Senate at 2:00 p.m. the same day.
To join the CLN contact the CLAS Communication Coordinator Susie Ellison via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 239-3616.
View All Bills CLAS is Tracking