2023 Alabama Legislative Update: Week Five
Incentives - “The Game Plan”
The incentives package known as “The Game Plan” made its way through committees this week and onto the floor of the legislature. As discussed in the last legislative update, the incentives package includes four principal bills: the Jobs Act & Growing Alabama, the Site Evaluation and Economic Development Strategy (SEEDS) Act, the Innovation and Small Business Act, and the Transparency in Incentives Act.
The House unanimously approved all four bills included in the package, while the Senate approved the Transparency in Incentives Act and the Economic Development Strategy (SEEDS) Act. Few unexpected legislative fireworks were relevant to the incentives bills during the week. Still, several amendments were made to the bills, including adding a section that provides economic incentives to the tourism industry.
All four bills of “The Game Plan” will likely pass in the coming week and will be presented to the Governor for her signature. While some minor amendments may be proposed next week, there is still broad support for “The Game Plan.”
This week, Senator Stutts and Representative Yarbrough introduced a school choice bill called The Parental Rights in Children’s Education (PRICE) Act. This bill aims to establish a universal education savings account program that would allow parents more control over their children's educational options. Specifically, this bill would allow parents to receive over $6,000 in state tax dollars to place in an education savings account (ESA).
Families and schools would not be required to participate, and all Alabama children would be eligible to apply for the savings account annually after a three-year phase-in period. The ESA could be used for various educational options, including public, private, online, or homeschooling.
Dramshop (Alcohol Liability)
This week, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that will establish liability standards for establishments that serve alcohol. This bill has been highlighted in previous newsletters and has received support from the retail industry.
The bill, sponsored by Representative David Faulkner in the House and Senator Chris Elliot in the Senate, would only hold an alcohol vendor liable if they serve alcohol to a patron who is “visibly intoxicated” and that service was the proximate cause of an accident. Representative Faulkner believes the bill could help reduce liquor liability insurance costs for such establishments, which have soared in price in recent years, and act as a deterrent to over-serving patrons. The bill has now received approval in the House and the Senate and is on the way to Governor Ivey’s office for her signature.
“Good Time” Restrictions
A bill sponsored by Senator April Weaver and Representative Russell Bedsole named in honor of the late Bibb County Deputy Brad Johnson has passed in both chambers and is heading to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk for her signature. Deputy Johnson was shot and killed by a convicted felon who had been released early from prison partly due to the state’s existing good time credit structure. This bill will tighten the requirements for prison inmates to receive good time credits for early release.
The Alabama House Committee on State Government gave a favorable report to Representative Ed Oliver’s bill that aims to prevent educators and employers from discussing topics related to race and gender, referred to as "divisive concepts." Representative Oliver stated that this bill “is designed to prevent racism in schools and state agencies.” This bill will now be sent to the entire House for a vote.
Transgender Athletes - The Women’s Sports Protection Bill
The Alabama House Education Policy Committee voted to give a favorable report to Representative Susan Dubose’s bill, The Women’s Sports Protection Bill. This bill would broaden a 2021 law that already applies to K-12 sports teams by applying the regulations to sports teams at higher education institutions.
Representative Dubose’s bill would prevent transgender athletes from participating in intercollegiate or intramural sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. The bill also would forbid governmental entities from investigating, filing a complaint, or acting against a university or public school that enforces this law. This bill will now be sent to the entire House for a vote.
The Alabama House has passed a bill to increase the cost threshold for mandatory competitive bidding on state projects sponsored by Representative Corley Ellis. The new threshold would be raised from $15,000 to $30,000. The bill received unanimous support in the House of Representatives and has been sent to the Senate for committee review.
Status of the Legislature
The Legislature used three legislative working days this week and has now used ten of its allotted thirty legislative working days this regular session. As of April 14th, there have been 325 bills filed in the House and 210 bills filed in the Senate during the regular session. The House will reconvene on Tuesday, April 18th, at 1:00 p.m., and the Senate will reconvene on the same day at 2:30 p.m. Next week the legislature is expected to use two legislative working days. If you have any questions about legislation mentioned or not mentioned in this update, please contact a member of our team.
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