2024 Alabama Legislative Update: Regular Session - Week Eight



On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Education Committee approved a substitute for the $9.3 billion 2025 Education Trust Fund (ETF) Budget and supplemental ETF appropriations. The ETF is the state’s mechanism for education-related funding. As discussed in last week’s legislative update, the Governor's proposed budgets were minorly changed. The ETF budget includes a 2% pay increase for teachers and $1.66 billion for colleges and universities, a 7.1% increase from the previous year’s ETF budget. The ETF and Supplemental ETF appropriations will now go to the full House for approval. 

On Thursday, after a lengthy debate, the Senate passed the state’s 2025 General Fund Budget and 2024 Supplemental Budget. Together, the General Fund Budgets total roughly $3.7 billion. The General Fund is the state’s non-education-related funding mechanism, including funding numerous agencies and departments. 

Medical Cannabis

This week, legislation that would reset the licensing process for medical cannabis licensing in the state received a favorable report from the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee. Senator Melson stated, “This will just be starting over. All applicants who applied by the original deadline will be allowed to apply again, at another deadline.” 

Another piece of legislation aimed at moving the medical cannabis committee forward also received a favorable report from the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee. This legislation would increase the number of licenses available, sponsored by Senator David Sessions. 

Working for Alabama

Various pieces of the “Working for Alabama” plan, mentioned in previous legislative updates, were taken up in both the House and Senate this week. This plan aims to increase Alabama’s workforce participation, strengthen economic development in the state, and encourage community and rural development in Alabama. These various legislation pieces will continue to progress in both chambers during the next legislative week as the legislature moves toward passing this legislative priority. This legislative package includes the following:  

  • Alabama Growth Alliance: On Tuesday, the Senate passed this legislation to establish the Alabama Growth Alliance, a public corporation to support economic development. Its focus includes increasing private investment within the state and creating opportunities for minority-owned businesses. The House version of this bill has reported out of committee.
  • Workforce Development Expansion: This legislation was passed in the Senate on Tuesday, and the House version has reported out of committee. As mentioned in previous legislative updates, it will rename the Secretary of Labor and the Department of Workforce to the Secretary of Workforce and the Department of Workforce and alter the Department’s duties.
  • Alternative Diploma Program: This legislation, coined the Alabama Workforce Pathway Act, would establish an alternative diploma program focusing on career and technical education. The Senate version of the bill has passed the full Senate, and the House version has reported out of committee.
  • Childcare Tax Credits: As mentioned in previous legislative updates, this legislation creates childcare tax credits for both employees and employers. This legislation is still pending further action in committees in both chambers.
  • Housing Tax Credit: As mentioned in previous legislative updates, this legislation would establish a tax credit for eligible taxpayers with a stake in qualifying workforce housing projects in Alabama. The Senate version of the legislation has passed the full Senate, and the House version has reported out of committee.
  • Innovation Districts: This legislation has been reported out of committee in both chambers. As mentioned in previous legislative updates, it would establish “innovation districts” as public corporations and provide details for how these districts would operate.
  • Local Government Authority: This legislation would amend the Alabama Constitution, granting the Legislature the authority to allow counties and municipalities to establish “innovation districts” as public corporations. The House and Senate versions of this bill have reported out of committee.

Property Tax Cap

On Tuesday, after some debate, the House passed legislation that caps increases on the assessed value of all types of properties at 7%.  Before being amended, the legislation originally capped the increase at 3% for residential properties and 5% for commercial properties. This cap does not apply to properties that have undergone renovations or new construction. This legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration. 

Ground Ambulance Billing

This week, there were public hearings on legislation that would increase the price of ambulance services for those utilizing private health insurance by 230%. This increase would have to be paid by the state’s employers and their employees. Opponents of the legislation argue the government should not be involved in rate setting in the private market and that a market-based solution would address any surprise ambulance billing issues in the state without dramatically raising costs for those utilizing ambulance services.  

Gender Defining Terms

On Thursday morning, the House passed a bill defining sex-based terms sponsored by Representative Susan DuBose. Some terms defined include boy, girl, man, and female. Several amendments to the legislation were made on the House floor. The Senate has passed a companion bill to this legislation, sponsored by Senator April Weaver. 

Sexual Material Filter

Legislation sponsored by Representative Ben Robbins relating to regulating pornographic websites passed the Senate this week. Under this legislation, commercial distributors of sexual material would be required to implement an age-verification method for consumers. This legislation will now go to the Governor’s desk for her signature. 

Status of the Legislature

After originally planning to use three, the Legislature used two legislative working days this week, bringing its current total to 21 of its allotted 30 legislative working days. 

As of April 12th, 453 bills have been filed in the House, and 324 bills have been filed in the Senate. 

The House and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, April 16th, with the House session beginning at 1:00 p.m. and the Senate session beginning at 2:00 p.m. Next week, the Legislature is expected to use two legislative working days.

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