Sunday, March 4, 2012
ALABAMA LEGISLATIVE UPDATE - WEEK FOUR
With 9 meeting days completed, roughly one-third of the 2012 Legislation Session has come to a close. Governor Bentley outlined new legislation on Tuesday that would provide for an annual sales tax holiday covering items related to severe weather preparedness. House Bill 436 allows for covered items $60 or less and generators, which are covered, as long as they cost less than $1,000, to be exempted from the state sales and use taxes over a designated weekend. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa County, stated, “On April 27 of last year, we were given a vivid reminder of the need to be prepared for when severe weather strikes. I am hopeful that this sales tax holiday will encourage families to think about their severe weather plans and make sure they have the items they need to weather any storm.” For 2012, the last weekend in April has been identified as a possible time for the sales tax holiday. In all subsequent years, the holiday will be held during the last full weekend of February. This allows the holiday to be in close proximity to the annual Severe Weather Awareness Week.
Other legislative developments of interest this week include:
- The House of Representatives passed legislation(House Bill 278) with the hope of curtailing metal theft from buildings, construction sites, cemeteries and Alabama roads, by requiring secondary metal recyclers to maintain additional records.
- As the jobs agenda continues to be the focal point, the Alabama Legislature gave final approval to a bill that offers tax incentives for creating new jobs in the coal industry. The House and Senate approved a conference committee version of the bill Thursday. House Speaker Mike Hubbard said the bill was the first of seven job incentive bills to be approved this session.
- Following Alabama native Octavia Spencer’s win for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscar’s, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that is expected to increase the number of movie and television productions in Alabama. Currently, the state can only spend $10 million a year on overall incentives. Under House Bill 243 the aggregate cap of incentives would increase incrementally to $25 million by 2014. House Bill 243 passed with unanimous consent with a vote of 101-0. “This gives an outstanding opportunity for us to be a player in the film industry," said Representative Demetrius Newton.
- Senator Paul Sanford introduced Senate Bill 331, which prohibits an employer from enforcing policies against bringing firearms to work. Senate Bill 331 and its companion bill House Bill 471 would infringe upon property rights and place new restrictions on property owners and employers. The bill has been referred to the Senate Business and Labor Committee and could be heard as early as Thursday, March 8.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 105, sponsored by Cam Ward. The bill would allow health care providers the authority to refuse to perform or participate in health care services that they find morally objectionable unless the procedures to be performed threaten the life of the patient. This allows employees to opt out of abortion, sterilization, cloning or human embryonic stem cell research. Senator Ward, in commenting about the bill, remarked that the legislation was intended to protect health care employees from termination over those issues.
The 2012 Regular Session resumes on Tuesday, March 6 when the Senate will reconvene at 2:00 pm. The House of Representatives will reconvene on the same day at 1:00 pm. It is expected that Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation will be introduced as early as next week.
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