Alabama Legislature 2018: What passed and what failed

BY  ON

The 2018 Legislative Session has officially come to a close. State legislators filed 992 bills in the 2018 session. Only 32.56 percent, or 323 bills, were passed by both the House and Senate chambers. As of Friday 9:30 a.m., Gov. Kay Ivey has signed 177 bills*.

ALCOHOL

- DIRECT WINE SHIPMENTS BILL (FAILED): Would allow adult consumers in Alabama to purchase a limited amount of wine directly from wineries licensed by the state. (SB243 | Sponsored by Madison-Republican State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw)

- ALCOHOL SALES ON SUNDAYS IN AUBURN BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): Allows for the City of Auburn to may authorize and permit the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption on Sundays. (HB444 | Sponsored by Lee County-Republican State Rep. Joe Lovvorn)


BUDGET

- GENERAL FUND (PASSED): funds Alabama’s non-education agencies (Sponsored by Montrose-Republican State Sen. Trip Pittman)

- EDUCATION TRUST FUND (PASSED): a $6.6 billion education budget for Fiscal Year 2019, which starts October 1 is the largest education budget for Alabama’s schools since the great recession of 2008

- TEACHER PAY RAISE BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): enacts a 2.5% salary increase for public education employees of K-12 public schools, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB), the Department of Youth Services School District, the Alabama School of Fine Arts, the Alabama High School of Mathematics and Science, and the two-year postsecondary institutions under the Board of Trustees for the Community College System.  (HB174 | Sponsored by Tuscaloosa-Republican State Rep. Bill Poole)

- EXTRA MONEY FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS (PASSED): appropriates an additional $4 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs. (HB180 | Sponsored by Tuscaloosa-Republican State Rep. Bill Poole)


CIVIL JUSTICE

- RACIAL PROFILING AT TRAFFIC STOPS BILL (FAILED): a bill seeking to require law enforcement agencies statewide to record data about the race and ethnicity of stopped motorists, (SB84 | Sponsored by Birmingham-Democrat state Sen. Rodger Smitherman)

- CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE BILL (FAILED): would have tracked how often law enforcement authorities use civil actions to seize a person’s property when criminal activity is suspected. (HB518 | Sponsored by Birmingham-Republican state Rep. Arnold Mooney)


CONSUMERS

- DATA BREACH BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): would create penalties for failure to notify affected individuals that their personal data has been compromised. (SB318 | Sponsored by Decatur-Republican State Senator Arthur Orr)

- BROADBAND ACCESSIBILITY BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): incentivizes private projects and increases opportunity for rural broadband expansion. (SB149 | Sponsored by Guntersville-Republican State Sen. Clay Scofield; Geneva-Republican State Representative Donnie Chesteen)


CRIMINAL JUSTICE

- PRISON FUNDING (PASSED): adds an additional $85 million for the state prison system over the next two years. The allocation of funds follow U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruling last year to a federal lawsuit, which declared Alabama’s prison system has failed to provide mental health care to the state’s prison population and is in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. (Sponsored by Montrose-Republican State Sen. Trip Pittman)

- NITROGEN EXECUTION BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): allows the condemned to choose execution by nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection is unavailable, or if they so elect. (SB128 | Sponsored by Montrose-Republican State Sen. Tripp Pittman)

- JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM BILL (FAILED): aims to keep low-level offenders at home instead of in lock-up facilities. (HB225 | Sponsored by Moody-Republican State Rep. Jim Hill)

- HUMAN TRAFFICKING BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): Enhances the penalties already in place, increasing the offense to a Class A felony, with a minimum jail sentence of ten years. (SB179 | Sponsored by Alabaster-Republican state Sen. Cam Ward)

- MARIJUANA POSSESSION BILL (FAILED): sought to change sentencing for possession of one ounce or less to a violation, and to add fines which would not appear on a person’s criminal record, even after repeat offense. (HB272 | Sponsored by Birmingham-Democrat state Rep. Patricia Todd)

- MARIJUANA TRAFFICKING BILL (FAILED): A bill to up the minimum amount of marijuana needed to be convicted of trafficking from 2.2 pounds to 10 pounds. (SB51 |  Sponsored by Montgomery-Republican State Sen. Dick Brewbaker)


EDUCATION/CHILD CARE

- DAY CARE REGULATION BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): The Alabama Department of Human Resources (ADHR) will inspect the nearly 1,000 faith-based centers throughout Alabama once a year, and require criminal background checks and proof of insurance on the people whose care children are being placed into. (HB76 | Sponsored by Tuskegee-Democrat state Rep.  Pebblin Warren)

- SB323, sponsored by Senator Trip Pittman (R–Daphne), that would allow the state to use the Budget Stabilization Fund to cover the costs of school security.


ELECTIONS

- END OF SPECIAL ELECTIONS BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): allows the governor to appoint an temporary replacement to a vacant Senate seat, followed by an election that would coincide with the next general election occurring more than one year after the vacancy occurs. (SB15 | Sponsored by State Sen. Rusty Glover)


ETHICS

- ETHICS EXEMPTION BILL (PASSED): exempts economic developers from the state ethics law. (HB317 | Sponsored by Moulton-Republican, State Rep. Ken Johnson)


GAMBLING

- FANTASY SPORTS BILL (FAILED): would establish the Fantasy Contests Act and provide for the registration of certain fantasy sports operators conducting fantasy sports contests within the state. (SB325 | Sponsored by Huntsville-Republican state Sen. Paul Sanford)


GOVERNING

- STRIPS LT GOVERNOR OF POWERS BILL (FAILED): strips the Lieutenant Governor’s office of any legislative duties (SB88 | Sponsored by Lineville-Republican State Senator Gerald Dial)

- TERM LIMITS FOR LAWMAKERS BILL (FAILED): would have proposed an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama that would provide that no person may be elected to either house of the state Legislature for more than three consecutive four-year terms. (SB127 | Sponsored by Mobile-Republican State Senator Bill Hightower)


GUNS

- ARMED TEACHER BILL (FAILED): Would allow some public school teachers and administrators to undergo firearms training and arm themselves during school hours (HB435 | Sponsored by Guntersville-Republican State Rep. Will Ainsworth)

- ASSAULT WEAPON AGE LIMIT BILL (FAILED): would have raised the age limit to buy an AR-15, and other semi-automatic long guns, from 18 to 21. (HB434 | Sponsored by Birmingham-Democrat State Rep. Juandalynn Givan)

- ASSAULT WEAPON BAN (FAILED): would have prohibited possession, sale or transfer of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition. (HB472 | Sponsored by Birmingham-Democrat State Rep. Mary Moore)


HEALTH CARE

- RURAL HOSPITAL RESOURCE CENTER (PASSED): Would create a resource center housed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Health System to provide support for nonprofit, rural, public hospitals in the state that are facing economic pressures. (SB351 |Sponsored by Jasper-Republican state Sen. Greg Reed; HB446 | Sponsored by Cullman-Republican Randall Shedd)

- MEDICAID WORK REQUIREMENTS BILL (FAILED):  as amended would no longer require the state’s Medicaid Agency to seek a work requirement waiver from CMS (SB140 | Sponsored by Decatur-Republican State Senator Arthur Orr)


LABOR/WORK FORCE

- UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BILL (FAILED): would have reduced the current maximum 26 weeks of unemployment benefits to 14 weeks. (SB92 | Sponsored by Decatur-Republican State Senator Arthur Orr)


RELIGION:

- TEN COMMANDMENTS BILL (PASSED, ON BALLOT): proposes a constitutional amendment, to be voted on directly by Alabamians at the next election, which if passed, would allow the display of the Ten Commandments on public property. (SB181 | Sponsored by Lineville-Republican State Sen. Gerald Dial)


TAXES

- TAX REFORM BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): raises the threshold for claiming state income tax exemption. (SB76 | Sponsored by Anniston-Republican and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh)

- BIRMINGHAM TAXES FOR BJCC RENOVATIONS BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): would levy an additional tax on car rentals in Jefferson County to finance a renovation of the BJCC and the construction of an open-air stadium at the facility. (SB311 | Sponsored by Vestavia Hill-Republican State Senator Jabo Waggoner)

- AMENDS SIMPLIFIED SELLERS USE TAX BILL (PASSED:) amends the existing Simplified Sellers Use Tax program, which passed the Legislature in 2015 and currently allows for online sellers to lock in a lower sales tax of 8 percent if they opt in. (HB470 | Sponsored by Fairfield-Democrat State Rep. Rod Scott)


TRANSPORATION

- RIDESHARING (SIGNED INTO LAW): Allows ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate statewide through the creation of a consistent regulatory framework for ridesharing companies across the state and eliminate the haphazard, confusing patchwork of differing municipal laws and regulations. (SB143 | Sponsored by Greensboro-Democrat state Senator Bobby Singleton; HB97 | Sponsored by Mountain Brook-Republican State Rep. David Faulkner)


VETERANS

- INCENTIVE TO HIRE VETERANS BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): raises the tax credit for businesses that hire unemployed veterans from $1000 to $2000 as well as extends the credit to businesses that hire combat veterans, even if they are not unemployed at the time of hiring. (HB83 | Sponsored by Jasper-Republican State Rep. Connie Rowe)


OTHER

- STATE EMPLOYEE PAY RAISE BILL: (SIGNED INTO LAW):gives state employees and some county employees a 3 percent pay increase (SB185 | Sponsored by Pratville-Republican State Senator Clyde Chambliss)

- STATE RETIREES BONUS BILL (SIGNED INTO LAW): authorizes a one-time bonus for state retirees equal to $1 for each month employed (SB215 | Sponsored by Lineville-Republican State Senator Gerald Dial)

 

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Director's Update

2018 Regular Session Delegation Bills

By Mimi Penhale, Legislative Director

 

The 2018 Regular Legislative Session began on January 9, 2018. In a typical year, session begins sometime in late February, but in the last year of the quadrennium, session begins much earlier. By beginning in January on an election year, individuals who are involved with the legislative process are able to finish their work in Montgomery earlier in the year, allowing them time to focus on campaigns in their districts before the primaries in June.

This session, will again focus on budgets, but this time around the Legislature will focus on funding mental healthcare in the state prison system and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Prison’s have been a major concern for our state over the last few years, but this year is different due to the state being court ordered to improve mental health care in prisons. At this point, the goal is to find funding for the program that will meet the guidelines set out by the court order.  The Legislature is also concerned that it will have to provide funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, since the federal government has not renewed funding for the program at this time. One good thing for the General Fund Budget is that Medicaid is not asking for more money this year; instead, they are working on a surplus from last years budget. This will free up some funds to help address the previously discussed issues facing our legislators.

Being the last year in this legislative cycle, we typically see less bills filled and legislation tends to be less controversial, due to many members of the Legislature seeking reelection. This is by no means a rule, it is just the typical atmosphere found in politics. For a breakdown of what kind of bills the Shelby Delegation has prefilled for this session, see below:

Rep. Jim Carns has no bills prefilled for this session. Rep. Carns is serving as the Chair of both the Commerce and Small Business Committee and the Jefferson County Delegation, as well as, serving on the Children and Senior Advocacy, the Shelby County Delegation, and the County and Municipal Government Committees.

Rep. Dickie Drake has four bills filed, at this time. These bills focus on military issues, which are very important to Rep. Drake, as he continues to serve as Vice Chair of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. Two of the bills focus on giving veterans free admission to all state parks and giving preference on competitive state bids to vendors owned by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also has some local legislation for Leeds, Alabama and that would remove the legislative procedure that a bill must be read at length prior to final passage.

Rep. Ellis is entering his second session as a legislator. He has one bill this session that would require certain evidence of comparable sales or leases to be admissible in taxpayer appeals for the rulings of boards of equalization fixing value of commercial property. He will continue to serve on the Local Legislation and Shelby County Delegation Committees, as well as Fiscal Responsibility and Ways and Means Education Committees.  

Rep. Allen Farley has filed one bill this session. The bill is local legislation for the Pleasant Grove area. Rep. Farley is serving as the Vice Chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, as well as serving as a member of the Children and Senior Advocacy, Judiciary, Shelby County Delegation, and Jefferson County Delegation Committees.

Rep. Matt Fridy has seven bills he is currently carrying this session. The bills range from laws that would effect the Alabama Family Trust Corporation, the Alabama Uniform Voidable Transfers Act, workers compensation laws related to spousal benefits extending past remarriage, and changes to the Alabama Assistance and Service Animal Integrity in Housing Act.  Rep. Fridy is also carrying two bills at would help stop attorneys from pressuring individuals to peruse litigation following an accident, by increasing the penalties on attorneys and making traffic reports confidential.  He is also carrying a bill that would put into law that parents have the right to direct upbringing, education, care, and custody of their children.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Rep. Arnold Mooney has filed twelve bills so far, this session. His bills focus on a variety of issues, including; changes to the eminent domain law, decreasing the cost of pre-trial intervention for individuals who drive under the influence, allowing schools to display the Ten Commandments and “In God we trust” without penalty, increasing eligibility requirements for TANF and SNAP recipients, and exempting rooms and spaces that are not used for overnight accommodations from the Lodging tax, to name a few. Notably, he is also carrying legislation that would place private sewer systems under the regulation of the Public Service Commission.

Rep. April Weaver is had filled ten bills this session. Her bills focus mostly on Healthcare issues, such as; tax credits for rural nurse practitioners, palliative and end of life legislation for adults and minors, legislation that would create a review committee for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, penalizing the trafficking of Fentanyl, and legislation that relates to the Nursing Board. Rep. Weaver also has legislation related to Conservation and Natural Resources, which would make criminal penalties only applicable for intentional violations.

Sen. Slade Blackwell has three pre-filed bills. His bills are all amendments to previous laws; changes to the council manager act of 1982, term limit changes for Craft Training Board members, and continued education legislation for the Insurance Department.  Sen. Blackwell is again serving as the Banking and Insurance Chair, as well as serving on Confirmations, Finance and Taxation Education, Health and Human Services, and Jefferson and Shelby County Delegations.

Sen. Jim McClendon, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Health Committee, has filled six bills so far this session. This year, his legislation is ranges from changes to unemployment compensation benefits, reclassifying treasures and artifacts as cultural resources so they are eligible for or listed in National Register of Historic Places, allowing physician assistants, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners authority to sign forms which may be signed by a physician, legislation related to the State Department of Education and Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and their ability to consult with Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind to track progress in deaf and hard-of-hearing children, and establish the Alabama Cold War Victory Medal Act. One of Sen. McClendon’s most notable pieces of legislation is his legislation that would shorten the election cycle for special elections to one general election.

Sen. Jabo Waggoner is carrying two bills, so far, this session. His prefilled bills are regarding how the salary for the Securities Commission is set and an amendment to how motor vehicles are to be managed while overtaking and passing other vehicles. He will continue to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and the Jefferson County Delegation, as well as, Vice Chair of the Senate Confirmations Committee and a member of six other Senate committees.

Sen. Cam Ward has filed seventeen bills this session. His large list of legislation focuses on a variety of things, a few of which are changes to the criminal code, amendments to sex offender public notices, increasing penalties for human trafficking, changes to the eminent domain law, weed abatement and municipal ordinance legislation, legislation that would expand the types of cases private judges can hear, legislation related to private judges, a bill on court cost and docket fees waived due to substantial hardship, legislation that would add first and second offenders to the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act, and making the Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy permanent, to name a few. Sen. Ward is also carrying legislation this session regarding changes to Alabama’s Juvenile Justice laws. This legislation hopes to try to change the current system by keeping children from becoming repeat offenders by utilizing successful tactics employed by other states’ juvenile programs.

Shelby County Legislative Delegation (C) 2013