LEGISLATIVE REPORT – APRIL 26, 2024

Volume 25 Number 11 – 24th and 25th legislative days

The Alabama legislature reconvened its 2024 regular legislative session on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024, for a two-day legislative work week. 

House Passes Secret Ballot Union Elections Bill

On Tuesday, the House amended SB231, by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and House Majority Leader Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle). The bill would require companies to repay state economic incentive dollars if they grant recognition rights based on signed pledge cards or if the company voluntarily discloses personal contact information to a labor organization without written consent from the employee. These changes would effectively require unions to hold secret ballot elections. Three amendments were added on the House floor. 

The Senate voted on Thursday to non-concur with the House changes and go to conference committee.

Public Hearing on Device Filtering Bill in Senate Committee

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee held a public hearing Wednesday for HB167, by Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville). The bill would require smartphones activated in Alabama to include a preset adult content filter. The bill also provides that a device manufacturer who violates the act is subject to civil liability and penalties. The bill passed the House unanimously earlier this month although there was significant opposition from the telecommunications industry and manufacturers. 

Many opponents of the bill said they preferred HB164, sponsored by Rep. Ben Robbins (R-Sylacauga), and signed by Governor Ivey on Wednesday. That bill would require pornographic websites to verify users’ ages through government-issued ID. 

Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) will serve as the Senate sponsor of HB167,  and the committee is expected to vote on it next week. 

Opioid Settlement Supplemental Bill Filed After Several Public Hearings

The Oversight Commission on Alabama Opioid Settlement Funds announced Tuesday its statewide investment plan for the state’s opioid settlement funds. The Commission, chaired by Rep. Rex Reynolds (R-Huntsville) and Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman), has held four public meetings, hearing from multiple agencies and associations that provide services related to prevention, treatment, and recovery of those suffering from opioid addictions in Alabama. 

Rep. Rex Reynolds (R-Huntsville) filed HB479 on Tuesday to distribute $30 million in funds this year. A notable funding allocation included $3 million to the 988 Crisis Line, which was heavily debated last session due to widespread disagreements regarding funding mechanisms. 

Working for Alabama Package Continues to Advance

With fewer legislative days left in the regular session, a few of the priority workforce development bills received final passage and signatures from the Governor this week while others are still awaiting committee action in the Senate.  

Alabama Growth Alliance: 

Both chambers voted to non-concur and go to conference on SB252, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Baileyton).

Alabama Workforce Transformation Act:

SB247, by Senate Majority Leader Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) and Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), was signed by the Governor on Thursday. 

Workforce Pathways Act:

The Senate voted on Tuesday to concur with the House changes to SB253, by Sen. Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva) and Rep. Kelvin Lawrence (D-Hayneville). The bill was delivered to the Governor’s desk for her signature. 

Child Care Tax Credit: 

HB358, sponsored by Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) and Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman), is still pending action in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee. Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), who serves as the Committee Chairman, expressed to committee members on Wednesday that he is holding tax credit bills for the time being to assess the budgetary effects. 

Workforce Housing Tax Credit: 

HB346 by Rep. Cynthia Almond (R-Tuscaloosa) and Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine), also awaits action in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee.

Two Victories for Railroads This Week

Two bills affecting railroads came up for votes this week.

HB348 would deem a train that blocks a railroad-highway grade crossing for two or more continuous hours to be a public nuisance and levy a civil penalty. The bill was carried over on the House floor on Thursday and is not expected to come back up again this year.

HB407 by Rep. Phillip Pettus (R-Killen) would make changes to the overtime exemption law that went into effect in January. Under current law, compensation received by full-time hourly wage-paid employees for overtime work performed in excess of 40 hours in a workweek is exempt from Alabama state income tax. 

HB407 would change the definition of those who qualify for the exemption to employees governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Railroad employees are governed by the Railway Labor Act, so they would no longer qualify for the tax exemption. Rep. Pettus agreed to an amendment that was added in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education committee to add railroad employees back in so they can continue to receive the overtime tax exemption. The bill now goes to the Senate floor.

Internal Discussions Continue on Gaming Legislation 

The conference committee meeting on the gaming bills initially set for Wednesday was canceled hours before it began. Conversations continue among committee members, but the future of the bills is still unclear.

Last Actions & Bill Updates

HB8 – Property insurance, policy cancellation, nonrenewal, reduction of coverage, insurers required to provide prior written notice, circumstances under which policy cancellation, nonrenewal or coverage restriction by insurer deemed ineffective – Apr 25, 2024 | Senate – Read for the Second Time and placed on the Calendar

HB407 – Relating to Income Taxes; to amend the definition of gross income as relates to overtime income – Apr 25, 2024 | Senate – Read for the Second Time and placed on the Calendar

The Legislature will reconvene on Tuesday, April 30th, 2024, for the 26th legislative day.