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Legislative Update - March 8, 2019 - Week 1

Tuesday, March 5 the 2019 regular session convened, and Governor Kay Ivey delivered the State of the State address. Gov. Ivey announced pieces of her proposed budget during her speech including the following: $25 million increase to expand state’s Pre-k program; four percent raise for education employee’s pre-k through community college; two percent raise for state employees; $75 million increase for four-year colleges and universities; funding for more state troopers; and an additional $31 million in the general fund for state prisons.

After the speech the Legislature went back to the state house and adjourned Regular Session until March 19, then the Governor officially called the Special Session on infrastructure/gas tax.

What you need to know about the special session, if you don’t already know:

  • During a Special Session, lawmakers are limited to introduce bills. Bills can only be introduced that are in the governor’s call:
  • In a Special Session the House and Senate aren't burdened with the procedural hurdle called the Budget Isolation Resolution (BIR) that is required until the budgets are passed. Without the BIR, the Governor and legislative leaders need only win a simple majority vote – 53 in the House and 18 in the Senate - to pass the bill.
  • It takes a minimum of five legislative days to pass a bill.
  • Under this scenario, the Regular Session would be delayed for a week - or however long it takes for the bill to pass or fail - while lawmakers deal with the gas tax proposal. So, instead of having 104 days in which to complete the remaining 29 Regular Session legislative days, they’ll have 95-99, depending on how long the Special lasts.

Special Session bills introduced and given a favorable report include:

  • HB1 by Representative Poole – provides technical correction concerning the duties of the Permanent Joint Transportation Committee regarding the Alabama Department of Transportation’s long-range plan, long-range plan clarified, clarification of the Alabama Department of Transportation's duties and information requirements to the committee relating to the long-range plan.

  • HB2 by Rep. Poole - Rebuild Alabama Act-10 cent-per-gallon increase on gas and diesel tax phased in over 3 years: six cents effective October 1, 2019; two cents in October 1, 2020; and two cents effective October 1, 2021. Additional licensing tax and registration fee of $200 on electric vehicles and $100 plug-in hybrid electric automobiles. Distribution of proceeds for state (66.67%), county (25%), municipal (8.33%). Provides the State Port Authority transportation purposes, floor stock tax provided, bond of motor fuel terminal operators increased, taxes increased based on changes in National Highway Construction Cost Index, portion to finance improvements to ship channel related to Alabama State Docks, ATRIP-II Committee established., authorized to enter agreements for debt financing.

  • HB3 by Rep. Poole - Alabama Highway Finance Corporation authorized to borrow money and issue bonds to improve the Mobile Ship Channel.

The House Transportation, Infrastructure and Utilities Committee on Thursday approved to increase the state’s gas tax by 10 cents over the next three years (HB2). All three pieces of legislation passed on a voice vote, meaning individual legislators' votes were not recorded. I might add this is very rare. When a controversial issue is addressed in committee, typically a committee member calls for a roll call vote, but no one from either party called for one on Thursday. No negative votes were heard. HB1-HB3 will receive debate and expected to pass the House on March 8, 2019.

  • SB2 by Senator Chambliss - seeks to put to rest accountability concerns from legislators and constituents by requiring ALDOT to give routine reports on planning and budgeting to the Legislature and requires that ALDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) always be posted to the department’s website. The STIP program, is ALDOT’s long-range plan of road and bridge projects in the state.

Convene Report – The House and Senate were in session when this update was posted. 

View Special Session Bills CLAS is Tracking


 

Although Regular Session adjourned until March 19, the bills introduced relating to education are as follow:

HB1 by Representative Hanes – The EIRP is designed to be cost-neutral (i.e. it will not increase RSA’s unfunded liability or increase costs to RSA-participating employers) and therefore not as generous as the original DROP by making three changes:

  • The old DROP provided that 100% of the member’s benefit would be paid into the DROP account. Under the EIRP, only 80% of the member’s benefit would be paid into the account.
  • Second, under the old DROP, members could earn interest on their DROP accounts. Under EIRP, NO interest will be credited to the EIRP account.  
  • Third, under the old DROP, a member was entitled to a refund of his or her employee contributions made during the DROP participation period. Under the EIRP, there is no refund of employee contributions available.

HB19 by Rep. South – The bill requires rules by AHSAA regarding a student athlete’s eligibility be reviewed and approved by the State Board of Education; Codifies that 25% of AHSAA governing board be appointed by the State Board of Education or State Superintendent of Education; and the Department of Public Accountants audit the AHSAA in the same manner as it would a public agency.

HB21 by Rep. Baker – PLOP lump sum option plan, provides an additional option at retirement; allows a member to take up to 2 years of his or her benefit as a one-time partial lump sum distribution in exchange for a reduced lifetime monthly distribution.

HB32 by Rep. Boyd – Kyle Graddy Act This bill would name the self-administration law and the anaphylaxis preparedness program law together as the Kyle Graddy Act. This bill would specifically allow the possession and self-administration of single dose auto injectable epinephrine by a school student, also provide further for the definition of single dose auto injectable epinephrine.

HB62 by Rep. Ledbetter – companion to SB14 – allow Bible as elective course in grades 6-12.

HB72 by Rep. McCampbell – This bill makes changes to the terminology. Change designation of failing school to a challenged school, nonfailing school to a nonchallenged school. 

HB77 by Rep. Baker – Tier III – Allows Tier II education employees to opt-in to Tier III plan, and all hired after 1/1/2020 would be Tier 3. Adds 30-year service option (currently age 62 year required); allows sick leave conversion and increases employer/employee investment for higher benefit. Multiplier up to 2% from 1.65%, Member contributes 7.5% (up from 6%)

SB5 by Sen. Allen – The bill adds meaning of certified athlete agent as someone who is certified to be an athlete agent in a particular sport by a national association that promotes or regulates intercollegiate athletics and establishes eligibility standards for participation by a student athlete in that sport.  Allows certified athlete agent to pay expenses incurred before the signing of an agency contract by a student athlete, a family member of the student athlete, and an individual of a class of individuals authorized to receive the expenses by the national association that certified the agent if the expenses are: for the benefit of an athlete who is a member of a team authorized to receive a benefit by the national association; of a type authorized to be paid by a certified agent by the national association; for a purpose authorized by the national association that certified the agent.

SB8 by Sen. Coleman-Madison – Under existing law, any incorporated municipality in the state with a population of 5,000 or more may establish a city board of education. This bill would raise the population threshold for opening a city school system from 5,000 to 15,000. The bill would require cities planning to establish a school system to prove they are financially capable of maintaining a system and require that the new city school system “acquire or build” its own facilities.

SB14 by Sen. Melson – This bill would allow public schools to offer Bible courses as an elective to students in grades 6-12.  Courses designed to:  Teach students about Bible characters, poetry, and narratives that are useful for understanding history and contemporary society and culture, including art, music, social mores, oration, and public policy, familiarize students with the following: a. The contents of the Bible. b. The history of the Bible. c. The literary style and structure of the Bible. d. The influence of the Bible on law, history, government, literature, art, music, customs, morals, values, and cultures. Requires the ALSDE to develop policies to guide the new program and instructs school administrators to maintain neutrality in teaching the course.

SB15 by Sen. Whatley –This bill would name the self-administration law and the anaphylaxis preparedness program law together as the Kyle Graddy Act. This bill would specifically allow the possession and self-administration of single dose auto injectable epinephrine by a school student, also provide further for the definition of single dose auto injectable epinephrine.

SB20 by Sen. Smitherman - The bill would make an appropriation from the Education Trust Fund to the State Board of Education in the amount of $14,730,000 for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, and would require the board to allocate $10,000 of that amount to each public K-12 school in the state for the purpose of establishing and maintaining an anti-bullying program on each school campus.

Budget – The Governor has until the second day of the Regular Session to send her proposed budget to the legislature. Tuesday, March 19 will be second day. Due to the Special Session it will be a late budget year. Do not be surprised if budgets pass on the last day of the Regular Session which will be around June 14.

ISSUE TO PAY ATTENTION TO: Gov. Kay Ivey is proposing a redistribution of some tax revenue — including more than $30 million from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund. For the last 10 years the state has redirected as much as $63 million a year from the road and bridge fund to help pay for public safety (ALEA) and the courts (Alabama Judicial System). Ivey’s budget will propose fully funding the General Fund allocations to ALEA and the Alabama Judicial System, in order to do that, she proposes transferring the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to the ETF.

Alabama has a history of plugging General Fund deficits with ETF dollars, instead of working on a long-term solution. We must not allow education dollars to be transferred to the General Fund or allow General Fund programs to be placed in the ETF. ETF dollars should go to fund Alabama schools. Every dollar in the ETF matters and we must protect the ETF because a one-time raid is never one-time, it will occur over and over again.

In 2010 Congress passed legislation changing the CHIP program from an 80 percent federal: 20 percent state program to one hundred percent federally funded. On January 22, 2018, Congress renewed CHIP for another six years; but when they did, they reverted to the previous 80:20 split, passing a fifth of the costs on to state budgets.

To join the CLN contact the CLAS Communication Coordinator Susie Ellison via email susie@clasleaders.org or call (800) 239-3616.

View All Regular Session Bills CLAS is Tracking