Thursday, April 12, 2012
ALABAMA LEGISLATIVE UPDATE - WEEK 9
The Alabama Legislature met twice this week completing their 18th and 19th days of the 2012 Regular Session. Late Tuesday night, the Alabama House passed the General Fund budget with a vote of 56-47. Under the House passed budget, General Fund spending would total $1.39 billion in the 2013 fiscal year. That marks a significant decline from the $1.74 billion General Fund budget for the current fiscal year (the 2011-12 budget is subject to the Governor's March 16 proration order, though). Representative Jim Barton, the Chair of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee and the bill's sponsor remarked, "We tried to provide the best services to the citizens of Alabama that we could with the money that we had available." The bill will next be heard in Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, chaired by Senator Orr.
On Wednesday, the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 658, the proposed legislation revising the state's tough immigration law. The two-hour public hearing had nearly twenty speakers and was held in the House chamber due to the large anticipated crowd. Committee chairman, Representative Micky Hammon, expects the committee to vote on House Bill 658 next week.
Thursday afternoon, Governor Bentley signed a bill designed to restore a settlement in the state Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Program. The bill amends language from the 2010 settlement that the Alabama Supreme Court cited as a basis to strike down the settlement in March.
After a compromise, the Alabama Senate unanimously passed a substitute bill to Senate Bill 283 requiring companies to offer insurance coverage for autism treatments and therapies. Advocates were initially pushing for a mandated coverage option. "I think it's a fair compromise. Is that everything we want? No." However, "This provides more coverage than the autism community has ever seen," said Senator Cam Ward.
A measure to require the Department of Revenue to offer a single point of filing for sales and use tax was passed by the Senate on Tuesday. The bill, SB459 by Senator Slade Blackwell, would significantly simplify the tax process for entities with locations in multiple Alabama taxing jurisdictions. Under current law, businesses must file sales and use tax returns each month in each taxing jurisdiction in which they are located. Under Senator Blackwell's bill (as with the House version sponsored by Representative Jack Williams), businesses would be able to file their returns with the Alabama Department of Revenue. The Senate bill received a favorable report from the House Committee on Commerce on Wednesday and now is poised for final passage in the House.
The Alabama Senate unanimously approved five new Auburn University trustees. The new trustees are Robert Dumas, Elizabeth Huntley, James Pratt III, M. Clark Sahlie and Ben Tom Roberts. Four of the new members will be added immediately to the 14-seat board, and Ben Tom Roberts will begin his seven-year term in May.
The 2012 Regular Session resumes on Tuesday, April 17th when the Senate will reconvene at 9:00 a.m. The House of Representatives will reconvene on the same day at 1:00 p.m. It is expected that the Education Trust Fund Budget will be considered in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee on Wednesday, April 18.
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