Legislative Report 051217

Volume 18 Number 12 – May 12, 2017

25th & 26th legislative days

House Spends 17 Hours on Reading of Redistricting Bill

On Tuesday, Rep. Randy Davis (R – Bay Minette) presented the House legislative redistricting plan.

In January, a three-judge federal court ordered the Legislature to redraw nine House districts and three Senate districts because of racial gerrymandering.

Republicans say the new map fixes the problems found by the court, like precincts split for the purpose of putting black voters in one district and white voters in another.

The House Democratic Caucus opposes the new plan, and prior to the vote, Rep. Thomas Jackson (D – Thomasville) requested the bill be read at length.

It’s a request any House member can make for any bill. In this case, the bill is 539 pages.

The reading began Tuesday afternoon and continued until midnight. At midnight, the House adjourned until Thursday when the reading began again at approximately 9:30 a.m.

The reading finally finished around 10:00 p.m. on Thursday night, and the House voted 70 – 30 to approve the plan.

The Senate passed their plan last week, and the House Constitutions, Campaigns, and Elections Committee approved it on Tuesday.

The House bill now goes to the Senate.

Autism Therapy Insurance Mandate Moves Forward

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance and Taxation – General Fund approved HB 284 by Rep. Jim Patterson (R – Huntsville), which mandates insurance coverage of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), a therapy used to treat autism.

The committee added two amendments to the bill. The first added an age cap of 16 years old for children receiving the therapy, and the second ensures that only large employers are required to offer the coverage to their employees.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R – Anniston) said on Thursday that the Senate would hear the bill on Wednesday of next week.

On Tuesday, Sen. Trip Pittman (R – Montrose), chairman of the Senate’s General Fund committee, received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Terry Kellogg saying the company would cover autism diagnosis and treatment in its underwritten, large group plans covering 50 or more employees.

The autism advocates would not agree to BCBS’ offer, as they prefer the legislature mandate the coverage.

Senate Committee Approves Payday Reform Bill

The Senate Banking and Insurance committee approved HB 535 by Rep. Danny Garrett (R – Trussville) and SB 404 by Sen. Tom Whatley (R – Auburn). Both bills are identical and address payday lending reform.

The following is a list of changes in the bill:

  • Removes the provision authorizing one renewal or extension of a deferred presentment transaction and specifies that the licensee could not enter into a new transaction with the customer until at least 48 hours after the previous transaction is paid in full.
  • Provides for a free extended repayment plan if the customer is unable to pay at the end of the term of the transaction or if the customer’s check or debit authorization is returned for any reason.
  • Requires a licensee who offers other installment loan products to inform a customer of the availability of these products once the customer has successfully used and repaid six transactions in a 12-month period.
  • Allows a licensee to enter into a deferred presentment transaction with a customer who has made 12 or more transactions in the previous 12 months only after 14 days have passed since the previous transaction is paid in full.

The bill is considered a compromise bill for the payday lending industry and the advocates against payday lending. The State Banking Department is supportive of the legislation.

The House bill is expected on the Senate floor next week.

Upcoming Legislative Schedule

The House of Representatives and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., respectively.

Tuesday marks the 26th legislative day, leaving four days left in the 2017 session.

The leadership has not yet decided whether the legislature will meet Tuesday – Thursday or Tuesday – Friday. Either way, the session will end next week.