Legislative Report 012618

Volume 19 Number 3 – January 26, 2018

5th & 6th legislative days

House Democrats Announce Legislative Agenda

On January 24, 2018 the Alabama House Democratic Caucus announced their legislative agenda for the 2018 session. In the announcement, Democrats listed their legislative interests and perceived needs for the state, while outlining how they wish to go about solving these issues. The press conference, led by House Democratic Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, focused on a “Clean, Competent, and Competitive Alabama.”

The “Clean, Competent, and Competitive Alabama” agenda includes the following:

  • Supporting our public schools and prioritizing early childhood education
  • Investing in our educators
  • Rebuilding our workforce
  • Ensuring open, transparent government and ending corruption
  • Ensuring access to healthcare for all Alabamians
  • Supporting mental health
  • Prioritizing prison reform and reducing recidivism
  • Fighting the epidemic of addiction

While the Democrats did outline their agenda, they did not offer any specific legislation at this time. They instead plan to roll out legislation to combat these problem areas in the coming weeks, with members also travelling statewide to hold town hall meetings to discuss other issues important to Alabamians. Minority Leader Anthony Daniels ended the event, saying:

“This agenda represents something we, as Democrats, believe in and that we believe serves all Alabamians and will lead us to a better future for our state.”

Uber/Lyft Bill Moves Forward

The House and Senate bills designed to set up a statewide framework for ride sharing companies such as Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies moved forward this week. HB 190 by Rep. David Faulkner (R – Mountain Brook) received a favorable report from the House Commerce and Small Business Committee on Wednesday, and SB 143 by Sen. Bobby Singleton (D – Greensboro) passed the full Senate on Thursday by a vote of 28 – 0.

Alabama is one of only six states with no statewide regulations for ride-sharing companies, advocates for the bill say. Fifteen Alabama cities license and regulate ride-sharing companies, but uniform regulations are needed to expand the availability across the state, supporters of the bill said.

The bill was introduced last year, but did not get much movement due to opposition from the cities; however, the current bills have been worked out with the cities and seem to have lots of momentum.

Senate Approves Tax Break 

On Thursday, the Senate approved a small tax break for low to middle income families by raising the income levels for standard deductions on state income taxes.

Under the legislation, married couples filing jointly with adjusted gross incomes of up to $23,000 could take the maximum standard deduction of $7,500. Under current law, the maximum deduction is available to those with adjusted gross incomes up to $20,000.

Under the standard deduction sliding scale, the changes would benefit families with adjusted gross incomes of $20,000 to $33,000.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.

Senate Votes to Cut Unemployment Benefits

The Senate voted Thursday to reduce the number of weeks that a person can receive jobless benefits, linking the time to the local unemployment rate.

The proposal reduces the maximum unemployment benefit period from 26 weeks to 14 weeks when the unemployment rate in the person’s county is at or below 6.5 percent. When the rate is higher, people could get a maximum of 20 weeks, depending upon the unemployment rate. Unemployed individuals could also get another five weeks by enrolling in job training. The bill also raises the maximum benefit by about $40 per month.

The bill passed 21 – 8 and now goes to the House.

Upcoming Legislative Schedule

The House of Representatives and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 1:00 and 2:00 p.m., respectively.