Tag: Rep. April Weaver

AL Legislature Moving Quickly On Key Reforms

Since gaveling into session on March 1, 2011, the new GOP-controlled Alabama legislature has acted swiftly to get much-needed reform measures passed. The first and one of the most important of these was Rep. Greg Canfield’s Rolling Reserve Budget Act. Changing the way we budget the Education Trust Fund, Canfield’s bill will prevent proration in tough years. Legislators have also taken steps to restore fiscal responsibility to the state’s budget through the repeal of the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Program which will save taxpayers $70 million in additional benefits to state employees who work beyond retirement age.

Back in December they passed a complete overhaul of state ethics laws, and are continuing to strengthen them through legislation like Rep. Mike Ball’s HB58 requiring 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.

Now they’ve turned their focus to the increasingly serious problem of illegal immigration. The Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform estimates the cost of illegal immigrants to the state of Alabama is $270 million a year. This estimate does not include many costs such as unemployment, gang violence and other criminal activity associated with illegal immigration. Rep. Micky Hammon and Sen. Scott Beason are looking to address this problem through HB56 and SB256 respectively.

Largely under the radar have been several pieces of legislation that make Alabama a more business-friendly environment. Rep. April Weaver’s legislation to allow qualifying employees to deduct from Alabama gross income 100% of the amounts they pay as health insurance premiums, Sen. Cam Ward’s legislation to provide tax credits to businesses that create jobs, and Sen. Paul Bussman’s bill to establish a 5-year property tax exemption for small businesses that relocate or expand in Alabama will improve economic development and create more jobs.

So far, the Alabama Legislature is off to a good start. If they continue to pass constructive reform measures and conservative legislation, they will get a solid A grading from us!

Legislative Week In Review

Another busy week for the Alabama Legislature.  This week, the House passed the following:

HB61 (Rep. April Weaver) Small Business Healthcare Tax Incentives Bill:  This legislation allows qualifying employees to deduct from Alabama gross income 100% of the amounts they pay as health insurance premiums as part of an employer provided health insurance plan provided by a qualifying employer.

HB19 (Rep. Kerry Rich) Voter ID:  Amends the Alabama Constitution to require voters to provide a valid photo ID in order to vote.

HB62 (Rep. Mike Jones) Ethics Commission Funding: Annual appropriation to fund the Alabama Ethics Commission.

HB58 (Rep. Mike Ball) Ethics Disclosure:  This legislation 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.

Obamacare Opt Out:  The House attempted to pass a constitutional amendment (HB60) to preserve the freedom of Alabama citizens to make decisions about and provide for their own healthcare regardless of federal mandates.  Several Republican legislators were not present for the vote, and it failed.*  You can find out how your legislator voted here.  The House is expected to revote on this legislation next week.

*Rep. Owen Drake is in the hospital and could not be present for the vote.

Over in the Senate:

DROP legislation was amended and passed.  SB 72 (Sen. Del Marsh) DROP: Governor Bentley amended the DROP Bill to comply with the 90 day notice requirement and avoid legal challenges.  Both the House and Senate concurred with the amendment and it is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Legislative Week in Review–Week 1

The Alabama legislature gaveled in at 12 noon on March 1, 2011 with a Republican-controlled House and Senate.  It was a very busy week that followed as the GOP is moving legislation quickly through committee.  Here are some of the key pieces of legislation that came out of committee this week:

HB57–Rep. Greg Canfield’s Rolling Reserve Budget Act will change the budgeting process for the Education Trust Fund to cap spending at a 15-year rolling average.

HB59–Rep. Barry Mask’s legislation to eliminate the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP)

HB64–Rep. Kurt Wallace’s constitutional amendment that protects the right to a secret ballot  in employee representation.

HB61–Rep. April Weaver’s bill to allow businesses to deduct 200% of the amount they pay in health insurance premiums on their state income tax.