END OF SESSION BRIEFING – MAY 10, 2024

Volume 25 Number 13 – 28th, 29th and 30th legislative days

The Alabama Legislature reconvened on Tuesday, May 7th, for the final three legislative days of the 2024 regular session. With tensions high between House and Senate leadership, many bills that required further action to receive final passage died. Both chambers addressed conference committee reports on the education budget, general fund budget and supplemental appropriation funding. Although the Senate attempted to address a long calendar on the final day, a filibuster effort led by Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) and Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) effectively killed the calendar with only confirmations and budgets passing. 

State Budgets Cross the Finish Line After Hours of Negotiations

General Fund Budget & Supplemental Funding

On Tuesday, the Senate concurred with minor House changes to the $3.3 billion General Fund budget. The budget, which goes into effect on Oct. 1, includes a 2% pay raise for state employees and funding increases for most state agencies. The Senate also concurred on a supplemental General Fund bill for the current fiscal year, which totaled approximately $256 million. Most of that spending, $150 million, is going to prison construction. Both funding bills have been sent to the Governor for her signature. 

The final General Fund budget spreadsheet is available here, and the supplemental allocations can be accessed here

Education Trust Fund Budget & Supplemental Funding

The $9.3 billion Education Trust Fund budget went to a conference committee on Tuesday. Conferees included Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), Rep. Joe Lovvorn (R-Auburn), Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile), Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), Sen. Jay Hovey (R-Auburn), and Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham). 

One of the major changes made in conference committee included the reallocation of $5 million that the Senate put into the state employee retiree trust fund. That money was instead spread among several different items including Historical Commission grants and the Alabama Arts Council.

Line items for Christie Strategy Group clients in the final budget and supplemental funding include $1 million for a pilot program for all First-Class Pre-K classrooms in Montgomery County to utilize Age of Learning’s MyMath Academy and MyReading Academy courses and a $500,000 allocation for Small Magic, a community-based non-profit that focuses on school readiness.

As the  House and Senate leadership attempted to reach a final accommodation on  gaming, the Education Trust Fund budget and supplemental funding bills were stalled until the final day of this session. The House voted to accept the conference committee report late in the afternoon on Thursday just before their chamber adjourned sine die. The Senate voted in support of the bills shortly after and they were sent to Governor Ivey for signature. 

Governor Signs the “Working for Alabama” Package on Thursday

On Thursday, Governor Ivey signed into law the “Working for Alabama” package aimed to improve the state’s labor participation rate and enhance economic development. Key provisions of  the package, including the child care tax credit and a workforce housing tax credit, received final approval this week. Ivey signed the bills into law Thursday morning during a ceremony at the State Capitol, and was joined by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), and House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville).

Ethics Reform Bill Dies In Senate Committee

The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee decided Wednesday to carry over a bill that would have enacted sweeping reforms to the state’s ethics laws, effectively killing the bill for this legislative session. Both the Alabama House and Senate, however, later adopted a joint resolution that instructs the Legislative Services Agency to hire an independent expert to study the state’s ethics laws and to submit a report on their findings to legislative leadership by the first day of the 2025 legislative session. The ethics bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) would make important changes and clarifications to the current  ethics law.

Gaming Compromise Never Found, Special Session Unlikely

A final vote in the Senate to accept the conference committee report on gaming legislation never occurred this week. On Thursday, House members expressed their strong disappointment with Senate leadership and members for refusing to give the compromised gaming agreement a final vote. A special session to provide the legislature with another chance to pass gaming has been rumored throughout the session, but Governor Ivey has made it clear that it is unlikely she would call a special session on the issue. 

Property Tax Assessment Cap Receives Final Passage

On Wednesday, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill capping property tax increases in the state, providing relief to homeowners and businesses facing steep assessment hikes by setting a cap on annual increases in property tax assessments due to reappraisals at 7%. HB73 was concurred on by both chambers, and bill sponsors Rep. Phillip Pettus (R-Killeen) andSen. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay) were thanked by state leaders.The bill now goes to  Governor Ivey for her signature. 

The Legislature adjourned sine die on Thursday, May 9, 2024. The legislature will convene for the 2025 regular legislative session on February 4, 2025.