LEGISLATIVE REPORT – MAY 3, 2024

Volume 25 Number 12 – 26th and 27th legislative days

The Alabama legislature reconvened its 2024 regular legislative session on Tuesday, April 30th, 2024, for a two-day legislative work week with a focus on state budgets, workforce development bills, and gaming. 

Senate Passes Floor Substitute for ETF & Supplemental Funding

On Thursday, the Senate approved a $9.3 billion education budget for 2025 after an unexpected floor substitute by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) was adopted. The Senate also approved a floor substitute to HB144 by Sen. Orr for the supplemental funding bill. The Senate made relatively minor changes to the House version of the budget but House members unanimously voted to have the differences worked out in a conference committee. The House conferees include Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), Rep. Joe Lovvorn (R-Auburn), and Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile).

General Fund Budget & Supplemental Voted on in the House

The House approved a $3.3 billion General Fund budget for 2025 and a $253 million supplemental funding bill for the current fiscal year on Thursday. House members approved a committee substitute for the General Fund budget which was adopted unanimously and followed up by a minor amendment by Rep. Rex Reynolds (R-Huntsville) who served as the House sponsor of the bill. The supplemental funding bill received additional changes as well through a committee substitute and final floor amendment increasing allocations by $600,000. Both bills will head back to the Senate where they will either concur with the House changes or go to conference. 

Two Tax Credit Bills Aimed at Increasing Workforce Participation Passes Committee

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance & Taxation Education committee approved two bills that would give tax incentives to employers who assist employees with child care and developers who build affordable housing for low- and mid-income workers. Both bills are part of the leadership’s workforce development legislation package. Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), who serves as the Committee chairman, tried to substitute or amend both tax credit bills to lessen the amount of tax dollars they would divert from the Education Trust Fund, but the committee voted to keep them as they passed the House. 

HB358, the child care credit bill sponsored by House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) and Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman), was scaled back slightly in the House to reduce its fiscal impact and the incentives for employers. As passed, large employers could qualify for up to $600,000 per year in credits if they build in-house child care or help pay for off-site care. The original bill was up to $1 million per employer.

HB346 by Rep. Cynthia Almond (R-Tuscaloosa) and Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine), allows up to $5 million per year in tax credits to developers of affordable housing units in high-demand areas.

Both tax credit bills are expected to be on the Senate floor next week and if they remain unchanged, they will go to the governor.

Conference Committee Finds a Compromise on Gaming But Stalls in the Senate

On Tuesday, the gaming conference committee met publicly and announced the changes that were made to HB151, the constitutional amendment, and HB152, the enabling legislation. The compromise plan includes establishing a lottery, approving casino operations at existing sites, and authorizing the Governor to enter into a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The plan does not include sports betting, which was part of an earlier plan passed by the House, but was not in the Senate’s plan.

Later that night, the House approved both bills with ease. The Senate took up the bills after recessing for a significant amount of time. With a 20-15 vote, the Senate accepted the conference report for HB151 but immediately carried the bill over. With widespread confusion surrounding the final vote, Senate staff explained that the body was voting to accept the report rather than final passage of the constitutional amendment.

Lawmakers say the bill could resurface with only three days remaining in session. But to get it approved will require flipping a “No” to a “Yes” which will prove to be extremely difficult.

Device Filtering Bill Passes Out of Senate Committee 

Following a public hearing on HB167 last week, the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development committee voted to approve the bill after an amendment was adopted in an attempt to appease manufacturers who remain opposed to the bill. The amendment changed the definition of a “filter” to be more realistic for the industry to execute the requested changes and increase the “trigger” for civil liability. The bill’s future is still unclear as it needs to pass out of the Senate and head back to the House to adopt the changes that have been made. 

Last Actions & Bill Updates

HB407 – Relating to Income Taxes; to amend the definition of gross income as relates to overtime income – May 2, 2024 | House – Enrolled

HB163 – Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences Bill – May 2, 2024 | Legislature – Signature Requested

SB150 – Taxation; creates Tourism Tax Protection Act – May 2, 2024 | Legislature – Signature Requested

HB227 – Ethics; laws pertaining to public officials and public employees revised – May 2, 2024 | Senate – Pending Committee Action in Second House (Judiciary)

SB231 – Labor organizations, employer’s eligibility for economic development incentives conditioned upon employer refraining from certain practices relating to labor organizations, oversight provided – May 2, 2024 | Legislature – In Conference Committee

SB252 – Alabama Growth Alliance Bill – Apr 30, 2024 | Senate – Read for the Second Time and placed on the Calendar (Conference Committee on SB252)

HB479 – Appropriations, supplemental appropriations from the Opioid Treatment and Abatement Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2023 – May 2, 2024 | Senate – Read for the Second Time and placed on the Calendar (Finance & Taxation General Fund)

The Legislature will reconvene on Tuesday, May 7th, 2024, for the 28th legislative day. This could be the final week of this year’s regular legislative session.