Legislative Report 030218

Volume 19 Number 8 – March 2, 2018

15th & 16th legislative days

Senate Approves Pay Increase for State Employees

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 28 – 1 to approve a three percent pay raise for state employees. The last cost-of-living increase was approved in 2008. Senators also approved a one-time bonus for retired state and education employees. Under the proposal, they would receive $1 for every month served, which would translate to $360 for a 30-year career.

Both bills are part of the larger General Fund budget and now go to the House. Undoubtedly, Rep. Steve Clouse (R – Ozark), Chairman of the Ways and Means – General Fund Committee, and his committee members will have their own tweaks to the budget. It is expected that the House will debate the budget and pay raise bills on March 13.

Bill to Legalize Fantasy Sports Contests Approved by Senate Committee

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee approved SB 325, a bill that would legalize fantasy sports contests in the state of Alabama, with a unanimous favorable report on Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford (R – Huntsville), would legalize daily fantasy contests statewide and require gaming companies providing the service to register with the state Attorney General’s office. The bill sets registration and renewal fees for operators – $5,000 for operators with fewer than 5,000 players and $85,000 for operators with more than 5,000 players. It also sets the minimum playing age at 19, while excluding contests that involve collegiate and amateur events. Along with these provisions, the bill establishes consumer protections, which are largely comparable to those in other states.

While the committee approved the bill, Sen. Sanford said it was unlikely that the bill would pass this year. Without this legislation, daily fantasy sports will remain illegal in Alabama due to a ruling in 2016 by then-Attorney General Luther Strange declaring them to be illegal gambling under that state statute.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor.

Data Breach Legislation One Step Closer to Passage

Alabama is one of only two states that do not have a law in place to require companies to report the theft of electronic consumer information. On Thursday, the Senate approved the Alabama Data Breach Notification Act, which would require private companies and state agencies to alert affected individuals of a data breach.

The bill requires companies and state agencies to notify the affected individuals within 45 days of the breach’s discovery. Should a breach affect more than 1,000 people, the company or agency must notify the state Attorney General’s office, and if the breach concerns more than 500,000 people, the company or agency must post notices online, in the newspapers, on TV, and on radio stations where the affected individuals live. If a company or state agency fails to notify individuals of a data breach, the Attorney General’s office can assess fines of $5,000 per day and file a lawsuit on behalf of the affected individuals.

The bill passed 24 – 0 and now goes to the House Technology and Research Committee.

Upcoming Legislative Schedule

The House of Representatives and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, at 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. respectively.