ARBA Legislative Update 4-23-21
The legislature has completed 25 of 30 legislative days leaving just five days for us to get two of our four bills to the governor for her signature. The legislature has still not passed the budgets, which is what is taking precedent now.
The House Ways and Means Committee on Education approved a version of the Education Trust Fund Budget Thursday that is about $3 million less than the about $3 million less than the Senate- passed version, for a grand total of $7.670 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. This is a $452 million increase over the current year and would be the largest education budget in Alabama history. It provides a 2% raise for education employees from K-12 to two-year colleges and invests in a new incentive pay program to bolster math and science in K-12. The education budget is scheduled for floor consideration in the House on Tuesday.
The state’s other main operating budget, the $2.474 billion General Fund, is pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee on the General Fund and should move this coming week.
ARBA bills: SB 4 by Sen. Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) was on the house agenda yesterday, but they adjourned before taking action on it. HB 340, the sales tax exemption, was approved by a senate committee this week and awaits action by the full senate. SB 220 by Sen. Scofield on indemnity was signed by the governor on Tuesday and becomes effective immediately. Contractor liability will not pass this year.
Sales Tax Exemption clears Senate Finance & Taxation Education Committee — 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. Final passage in the senate could come as soon as Tuesday.
INDEMNITY - SB 220 by Sen. Scofield (R-Guntersville) HAS BEEN SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR- This bill would prohibit private parties to a road and bridge contract from requiring someone to indemnify another for their own errors and omissions. Thanks to our bill sponsors - Rep. McMillan (R-Bay Minette) and Sen. Scofield.
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 of issues that we face 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.
Other bills of interest
Work Zone Safety - HB 245 by Rep. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville) / SB 4 by Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) — This bill increases the penalty for any moving violation in a work zone with workers present to the greater of $250 or double the fine. HB 245 was approved by the House Transportation Committee and awaits final passage in the senate.. SB 4 has passed the senate and awaits final passage by the house.
Maximum Vehicle Width - HB 600 by Rep. Smith (R-Billingsly) - This bill would provide for a uniform vehicle width of 102".
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.