Legislative Report – May 17, 2019

Volume 20 Number 8 – May 17, 2019

19th, 20th & 21st legislative days

Senate Passes Bill to Allow Birmingham Economic Development Project to Move Forward

Monday Night Brewing, a craft brewery based in Atlanta and new client of Christie Strategy Group, has signed a contingent lease as part of the Denham Building project in downtown Birmingham. Unfortunately, Alabama law prevents a manufacturer from owning a brewpub; SB 404 by Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D – Birmingham) would change that.

The bill, which passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 26 – 2, would allow small craft breweries to own one brewpub each in the state. The bill is necessary to allow the Denham Building project to move forward, which will make a huge economic impact on the downtown area. The $30 million project will create 300 new jobs over the next several years.

The bill would also require that all product sold at a brewpub must be either made on site or purchased from a wholesaler, preserving the integrity of the three-tier system.

This legislation is time-sensitive and must be approved by the legislature this year. The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill on Wednesday.

House Passes Equal Pay Bill

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to create a state law to prohibit employers from paying employees differently based only on race or sex.

The bill would clarify what factors employers can use to justify paying employees differently. It says those factors include seniority, a merit system, a system based on quality or quantity of production, or a differential based on factors other than sex or race. Employees would have up to one year from the time of the discrimination to file a civil action.

The bill exempts businesses with 50 employees or less from the provisions of the law.

The bill passed the House 98 – 0 and is in Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Passes Bill to Replace Elected School Board

On Thursday, the Senate approved a plan to replace the elected state Board of Education with a commission appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The Senate approved the bill 30 – 0, sending it to the House of Representatives. It is a proposed constitutional amendment and would have to be approved by voters to become law.

Gov. Kay Ivey supports the legislation. She said Alabama needs a bold plan to improve education.

The nine-member appointed commission created under the bill, the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education, would appoint a secretary of education, a position that would replace the current office of state superintendent. The commission would include at least one member from each of the state’s seven congressional districts.

The bill sets some specific responsibilities for the new commission, including a requirement to adopt “course of study standards that ensure nationwide consistency and the seamless transfer of students from within and outside of the state, in lieu of common core.” The commission would also be required to develop comprehensive programs on education certification, professional development, assessment systems, and accountability systems.
The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means – Education Committee.

Governor Signs Near Total Abortion Ban

Governor Kay Ivey signed HB 314 by Rep. Terri Collins (R – Decatur) this week. The law is the most stringent abortion law in the nation, making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases.

The abortion ban will go into effect in six months if it is not blocked by legal challenges. It would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison for the provider. There is no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk. Women seeking or undergoing abortions would not be punished.

Proponents of the bill say the near total ban is necessary in order to challenge Row v. Wade.

Upcoming Legislative Schedule

The House of Representatives and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at 1:00 and 3:30 p.m.. respectively.