|Note: The following is a list of some of the legislation to be acted on by the Alabama Legislature this week. It is in no way comprehensive, and being listed is not indicative of support.
–HB459 creating a Charter School pilot program.
–HB142 prohibits counties from charging any fee to persons or entities not connected to the sewer system
–HB405 defines person to include all humans from the point of fertilization
–HB56 Rep. Micky Hammon’s immigration reform legislation
–HB230 income tax credits for employers who create jobs
–SB338 adopts the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President By National Popular Vote compact **Public Hearing**
–SB401 requiring candidates for elected office with minimum age requirements to provide a certified copy of birth certificate **Public Hearing**
–HB102 ban on texting while driving
–HB123 Education Budget **Public Hearing**
–SB428 allowing current and new state employees to discontinue participation in or opt out of the Teachers’ Retirement System or Employees’ Retirement System **Public Hearing**
–HB18 prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks postfertilization when baby can feel pain
–SB372 ban on smoking in public places, private clubs, outdoor areas and places of employment
–HB6 lowering the mandatory school age from 7 years of age to 6 years of age
On the Floor
The House will work on the General Fund budget (SB133) this week.
The following bills are also on the Proposed Special Order Calendar:
–HB425 setting the Presidential Preference Primary date for the first Tuesday in March
–HB193 prohibiting civil actions against restaurants for weight gain or obesity
–SB136 providing for the electronic filing of campaign finance disclosure reports
–SB112 removing racist language from the Alabama Constitution of 1901
–SB373 authorizing tax incentives for qualified companies locating new or expanding existing businesses in the state of Alabama
Last week, the Alabama Senate passed out of committee a bill that will reform the state’s tenure law. Senator Trip Pittman’s SB310 will improve the dismissal process for teachers and state employees by removing the arbitration process and providing a fair hearing before an administrative law judge. Current tenure laws have made it too difficult for school boards and principals to deal with bad teachers. This law will allow locally elected school boards to decide what’s best for our schools rather than federal arbitrators who don’t care about Alabama. Our tenure laws should protect teachers who put students first, not reward complacency and carelessness.
SB310 does NOT take away teacher tenure, it simply changes the dismissal process to make it easier to fire substandard teachers. Good teachers will never have anything to worry about.
Things are moving right along in Montgomery. Last Tuesday, the Alabama House passed the Education Budget (HB123)–that’s the earliest a budget’s been passed in a very long time. The Senate passed bills:
- prohibiting gassing as a method of euthanasia for cats and dogs (SB172),
- allowing for election expense reimbursement from the state (SB139),
- creating a crime of threatening harm or violence against a judicial system officer or employee (SB146), and
- creating the crime of filing a false lien against a public officer or employee (SB197),
Wednesday was a busy day in committee. Several good pieces of legislation passed out including:
- HB25 Rep. Paul DeMarco’s Fiscal Transparency Act which will improve the state’s Open Alabama website by requiring the Finance Department to post monthly financial reports.
- HB427 Rep. Paul DeMarco’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights which will enhance the protections taxpayers have against tax assessments handed down by the state.
- SB196 Sen. Paul Bussman’s Alabama Children and Families Act which will change the presumption in child custody cases where two fit parents are involved to a 50/50 split.
Also on Wednesday, there was a very contentious public hearing on Sen. Trip Pittman’s proposed Teacher Tenure Reform (SB310).
Yesterday, the House passed the controversial Forever Wild reauthorization (HB126). They also debated HB6 which is Rep. John Merrill’s bill to lower the mandatory school age from 7 to 6 years of age. Due to some Republican dissent, Rep. Merrill carried his bill over and a vote wasn’t taken. Eagle Forum is strongly opposed to this legislation because we believe parents should retain the right to decide if their 6-year-old son or daughter is ready for first grade. The House also passed HB230 which creates income tax credits for employers who create jobs.
The Alabama Senate spent most of Thursday working on Sunset Laws.
The Alabama Senate will vote on SB256 today. Sponsored by Senator Scott Beason, SB256 will reform our state’s immigration laws.
- Make it illegal to hire illegal immigrants. Business owners who use e-Verify to check the status of their employees are given a safe harbor, but the use of e-Verify is not mandatory. All state contracts will have a clause against hiring illegal immigrants and if contractors are found in violation of that clause on a first offense, the contract will automatically terminate and the contractor may be barred from contracting with the state for a period of one year. The contractor is also liable for 10% of the total amount of the contract in damages. On a second offense, the contractor may be permanently barred from doing business with the state and be liable for 25% of the total contract price in damages.
- Prevent any illegal immigrant from getting public benefits.
- Make it a crime to be in the state illegally. Persons found in violation of this law will be subject to a $500 fine and one of the following: Term of imprisonment not less than one year and one day and not more than three years; or repatriation to the person’s country of citizenship.
- Allow law enforcement officers to verify the citizenship of any person in the course of a lawful stop, detention or arrest where reasonable suspicion the person is in the state illegally exists.
Eagle Forum urges a YES vote on Final Passage of SB256.
The net ANNUAL cost to Alabamians according to one legislator could be at least $600 million when depressed wages, lost jobs, dollars sent out of the U.S., drug addiction, etc. are added to the $270 m. net annual cost to AL documented at www.fairus.org. We cannot afford NOT to stop it by attrition through cutting off jobs and benefits.
Go to http://alabamaeagle.org/find-your-legislator to find your state legislator and email or call as indicated.
OR you may leave a message at the House switchboard in Montgomery: (334)242-7600.
On the Senate side…
SB196–Sen. Paul Bussman’s Shared Parenting bill: Changes the custodial presumption in child custody cases from 80%/20% to 50%/50%
HB58–Rep. Mike Ball’s Ethics Disclosure Requirements: Requires public officials/candidates and spouses of public officials/candidates to disclose if they are employed by the state or federal government or have a contract with the state or federal government.
HB64–Rep. Kurt Wallace’s Secret Ballot Protection Act: Constitutional amendment protecting the right to a secret ballot in employee representation.
SB46–Sen. Cam Ward’s Health Care Rights of Conscience Act: This legislation will provide a conscience exception for health care providers and pharmacists who believe in the sanctity of life and choose not to perform procedures or provide medication that do not comply with that belief.
SB310–Sen. Trip Pittman’s Teacher Tenure Law and Fair Dismissal Act: Reforms the state’s tenure system for teachers in order to improve the quality of education in Alabama.
On the floor:
SB301–Rep. Phil Williams’ pro-life legislation: Redefines person to include all humans from the moment of fertilization.
SB172–Sen. Del Marsh’s legislation to prohibit the use of gas chambers when euthanizing cats or dogs.
SB112–Sen. Arthur Orr’s legislation to remove racist language from the Alabama Constitution of 1901.
SB256–Sen. Scott Beason’s Immigration Reform Legislation–reforming the state immigration laws to provide for enforcement of federal immigration laws.
On the House side…
HB98–Rep. Kerry Rich and Rep. Wayne Johnson’s legislation to impose term limits on legislators in Alabama: Limits to three consecutive full terms in the House and/or Senate.
HB206–Rep. Jack Williams’ legislation to increase the distance campaign materials and candidates can be to a polling location to 300 ft.
HB427–Rep. Paul DeMarco’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights: This legislation will, among other things, amend the Alabama Taxpayer Bill of Rights to conform to the federal Taxpayer Bill of Rights including certain aspects like an “innocent spouse” defense. It will also increase the time period in which a taxpayer has to file an appeal of a preliminary or final assessment.
HB193–Rep. Mike Jones’ legislation to prohibit lawsuits against restaurants for obesity or weight gain.
On the floor:
HB123–Rep. Jay Love: Education Budget for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012
The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article on the move by some states to tax internet sales. Conclusion: Taxing internet sales doesn’t work. In fact, it drives business out of the state.
Governor Pat Quinn recently added to his reputation as America’s most taxing politician by signing a law applying the state’s 6.25% sales tax to Internet purchases made in Illinois. Within hours, Amazon, the online book and merchandise seller, announced it would discontinue using any of its 9,000 Illinois small business affiliates to avoid having to collect the tax. Congratulations, Governor. Read More
I hope Alabama legislators are listening. While this article focuses on collecting sales tax from the seller, there is currently a proposal to collect internet sales tax from the consumer in the Alabama legislature. Technically, consumers already have a duty to report internet buys and pay a “use” tax on those orders. However, it is almost impossible to enforce. Most people are unaware this duty even exists, much less follow through with the reporting.
Rep. Ison has introduced legislation that will require sellers to notify consumers of their duty to pay the use tax immediately after their purchase. It will also require retailers to provide consumers with a summary of their purchases throughout the year and their tax obligations on such items. The bill also amends the Alabama personal income tax form to allow for an easier reporting of the use tax.
The Senate Health Committee voted to pass the following legislation out of committee:
SB301–Recognizing “life” as beginning at the point of fertilization
SB308–Requiring a doctor to show ultrasound pictures to a pregnant woman before performing an abortion. Called the Right to Know and See Act
SB298–Requiring a doctor to examine a woman both before and after an abortion-inducing drug. Called the Abortion-Inducing Drug Safety Act.
SB202–Prohibiting coverage of abortion by any health care plan offered in Alabama through federal health care legislation.
SB34–Amends the Alabama Code to provide child includes children in utero. A positive drug test at time of birth shall create the presumption of exposure in utero.
SB167–Prohibiting lawsuits against restaurants for obesity
SB 301–Defines “person” to include all humans from the moment of fertilization
SB308–Right to Know and See legislation requiring ultrasounds before abortions
SB202–Federal Abortion Opt Out Act prohibits insurance plans that cover abortion from participating in the state insurance exchange mandated by the Obamacare legislation.
HB425–Moving state presidential preference primary to first Tuesday in March along with the general primary in presidential years.
HB324–moving property tax reappraisal on Class II and Class III property to every four years.
HB365–Informing consumers of duty to pay state and local sales tax on goods purchased over the internet.
Lots of activity on the House and Senate floor as well. The General Fund budget is scheduled to pass this week probably Thursday. I hear the House may take up Rep. Hammon’s immigration legislation (HB56). It’s the eighth bill on the House Regular Calendar, so there’s a good chance they will take it up.
Highlights from this week’s Regular Calendar:
SB84–Limiting liability for property owners who lease for purposes of hunting or fishing.
SB140–Forever Wild reauthorization
SB127–Limiting terms in the Alabama House and/or Senate to 3 terms.
SB112–Removes racist language and references from the Alabama Constitution
SB17–Easing the ballot access requirements
SB50–Tax credits for creating jobs
SB152–Grants small businesses (less than 10 employees) that locate or expand in Alabama a 5-year property tax exemption.
HB32–Moving the presidential preference primary to June beginning in 2012
HB56–Immigration reform legislation
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