ARBA Legislative Update 4-30-21
Budgets - Both chambers moved the state's two budgets closer to passage this week. The Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee approved a $2.48 billion General Fund budget. The House passed a $7.67 billion Education Trust Fund budget that must go to conference to work out differences with the senate.
The legislature has just three days remaining with them planning to meet two days next week and then the final day on May 17th.
Medical marijuana, lottery/gambling and the budgets are the remaining big-ticket items to be addressed this year.
Sales Tax Exemption PASSES — SB 99 by Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn)/ HB 340 by Rep. David Faulkner (R-Birmingham) - This bill will return the sales tax exemption on materials to ALDOT projects saving millions in costs.
Work Zone Safety bill PASSES - SB 4 by Sen. Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) was approved by the house and has gone to the governor for her signature. This bill lumps all moving violations into one statute that raises the penalty for violations when workers are present to the greater of $250 or double the fine.
The bill, however, will be returned with an executive amendment to make a technical correction caused by the passage of an expungement bill - SB 117. This is needed because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration informed ALEA that passage of SB117, now Act 2021-286, put Alabama in violation of 49 CFR 384.226 that addresses masking of violations of those with a commercial drivers license. The penalty for this is 4% of FHWA funds the first year and up to 8% any subsequent years. According to 49 CFR 384.401, this would hit all Federal-aid highway funds including ALDOT's, not just ALEA. Our bill is is being used as the vehicle to correct this issue because there is not enough time in the session to introduce a new bill and our subject matter was sufficient to attach the language.
INDEMNITY - SB 220 by Sen. Scofield (R-Guntersville) HAS BEEN SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR- This bill prohibits private parties to a road and bridge contract from requiring indemnification for their own errors and omissions. Thanks to our bill sponsors - Rep. McMillan (R-Bay Minette) and Sen. Scofield (R-Guntersville).
Contractor Liability bill WILL NOT PASS - SB 248 by Sen. Scofield (R-Guntersville) - It was anticipated that passing a bill this contentious was going to be a challenge and it proved to be true. I think the best takeaway is that the legislature and leadership have a much more keen understanding this issue and have pledged to keep pursuing common ground. Thank you to our bill sponsor, Senator Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville), for all his efforts on our behalf.
Maximum Vehicle Width - HB 600 by Rep. Smith (R-Billingsly) - This bill would provide for a uniform vehicle width of 102".
Other bills of interest
Driving in Left Lane - HB 505 by Rep. Phillip Pettus (R-Killen) - Dept. of Transportation required to post signs giving notice of restrictions against driving vehicle in leftmost lane. This bill has passed the house.
Local Gas Tax - SB 281 by Sen. Shelnutt (R-Trussville)/ HB 556 by Rep. Sells (R-Greenville) - This bill would require a city or county that increases local gas tax to use it on roads and bridges or hold a referendum to use it another way. It also limits the number of years it may be pledged for debt. This bill was approved by a senate committee over the objection of the League of Municipalities.
Surface Mining Commission - HB 582 by Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper) - this bill would move their monthly meeting requirement to every two months.
Professional Services for Design Contracts - HB 587 by Rep. Chip Brown (R-Mobile) / SB 261 by Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) - These bills deal with indemnification and other contractual issues for design engineers. It appears the vertical construction world has been satisfied though the senate bill has not been given a chance for debate by the full senate. The house bill was just introduced this week.