Capital Pulse – June 9, 2023

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The Alabama Legislature convened Tuesday, June 6th, for the final day of the 2023 Regular Session. This year’s session was unlike any session Alabama has seen in the past. With over onethird of the legislative body, House and Senate, starting their very first legislative session, new leadership in the House of Representatives, and a surplus in both state budgets, the only thing resembling sessions of the past was the longstanding procedural process of sine die.

AEA brought several dangerous school choice bills to a halt, fought until the end to amend charter and grocery tax bills until they were not harmful to our community schools, and successfully advocated for unprecedented pay raises for our School Nurses and Education Support Professionals throughout the state of Alabama.


(Bills that Died During Session)

SB202, the School Voucher Bill, also known as the PRICE Act, by Sen. Larry Stutts, is officially DEAD! With your help, AEA worked tirelessly to defeat this legislation, as it would have been detrimental to the ETF and students in Alabama.

HB7, by Rep. Ed Oliver, would have provided prohibitions on the promotion, endorsement, and affirmation of divisive concepts in certain public settings and established penalties if violated.

HB43, by Rep. Pebblin Warren, would have required a child who becomes six years of age between September 1 and December 31 to complete kindergarten or demonstrate first-grade readiness before entering the first grade. The bill would have also provided for circumstances under which a child who is under five years of age on September 1 may be admitted to public kindergarten.

HB90, by Rep. John Rogers and Rep. Tashina Morris, would have provided for certain students with intellectual disabilities to be entitled to certain educational services up to the student's twenty-sixth (26) birthday.

HB280, by Rep. Phillip Rigsby, would have extended the Military Family Jobs Opportunity Act professional license reciprocity to spouses of United States Department of Defense civil servants.

HB308, by Rep. Chris Sells, would have allowed a retiree to draw their retirement while returning to work as long as they did not make over 75 percent of their annual retirement benefit for each calendar year

HB333, by Rep. Danny Garrett, would have established the Alabama Modified School Calendar Grant Program, which would have allowed local boards of education to adopt a modified school calendar. It would have offset the associated costs with grants awarded through the program and required the State Department of Education to administer the program.

HB334, the Students with Unique Needs (SUN) Education Scholarship Account bill by Rep. Danny Garrett, would have allowed parents to use funds in an education scholarship account to provide an individualized education program for their children.

HB354, by Rep. Mack Butler, has died. This bill would have prohibited certain instruction regarding gender identity and sexual orientation in Alabama’s schools. It would have required notification of parents regarding students' mental, emotional, or physical health and give parents the right to opt their child out of certain health services.

HB371, by Rep. Jamie Kiel, would have revised the circumstances in which an individual's pension, annuity, or retirement allowance benefits under the Teachers' Retirement System and the Employees' Retirement System are subject to certain recovery actions.

HB442, the Alabama Fits All Education Scholarship Program bill by Rep. Danny Garrett, has died. This bill would have taken more money away from the ETF with zero accountability and oversight. It would have required the State Board of Education to contract with a program manager to establish scholarship accounts on behalf of eligible students Additionally, it would have authorized the program manager to distribute the scholarship funds, allowing the State Board of Education limited oversight.

HB489, the School Student Social Media Usage Bill by Rep. Ben Robbins, has died. This bill would have local boards of education prohibit students from accessing social media platforms using Internet access provided by schools.


(Bills Waiting to Be Signed by the Governor)

SB56, by Sen. Arthur Orr, will require local boards of education to install, maintain, and operate video cameras in certain self-contained classrooms providing protections for the use of video recordings. SB56 passed the House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor to sign into law.

SB176, by Sen. Arthur Orr, passed the House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor to sign into law. This bill will create the Student's Right to Know Act of 2023, requiring the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to collect data and create an interactive online tool for students for use in making informed decisions relating to education and professions and require the commission and Workforce Division of the Department of Commerce to share data and information as necessary to comply with this act.

SB278, by Sen. Jabo Waggoner, passed the House and the Senate and has been sent to the Governor to be signed into law. SB278 will create the Distressed Institutions of Higher Education Revolving Loan Program to be administered by the State Treasurer to provide loans to eligible higher education institutions, such as Birmingham Southern College, who are experiencing financial hardship.

HB152, by Rep. Allen Treadaway, will authorize public institutions of higher education that employ campus police officers to also employ reserve police officers. HB152 passed the House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor to sign into law.

HB342, by Rep. Susan DuBose, will add additional requirements for alternative certifications and offer additional pathways to licensure. HB342 passed House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor to sign into law.

HB479, “The Grocery Tax Bill” by Rep. Danny Garrett, will define "food" for purposes of sales and use taxes and will reduce the state sales and use tax on food by 2% from the current 4% tax starting on September 1, 2023. AEA worked with leadership to amend the bill to only allow the tax reduction in years where the ETF has a growth of 3.5% or more. This measure protects the ETF from being negatively impacted in years with low revenue. The amended bill passed the House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor to sign into law.

DISCHARGED (Bills Signed into Law)

The Governor signed the ETF Budget Thursday, June 1st, finalizing the largest budget in the state’s history. The ETF included a 2% base pay raise for all K-14 employees, a minimum of 3% raise for K12 teachers with 9+ years of experience, funding for additional steps and raises for postsecondary employees, substantial salary increases for School Nurses, and Education Support Professionals, a $1,000 stipend for special education teachers, and additional funds for speech therapists and psychometrists. Right before final passage, a floor amendment was added to the budget, which would have resulted in teachers only receiving a percentage of their classroom supply money. AEA’s lobby team quickly identified the issue and worked with leadership to ensure teachers receive 100% of the money allocated for classroom instructional supplies.

Along with the ETF Budget, the Governor signed a record breaking $2.8 billion supplemental appropriation funded by the FY23 Education Trust Fund surplus. The supplemental budget provides a one-time check of $150 for individuals and $300 for couples filing taxes in Alabama, funding for a newly created Educational Opportunities Reserve Fund, funding for the K-12 Capital Grant Fund that will allocate funding to local schools to help with school construction projects, and deferred maintenance and renovation funds for other various educational institutions.

SB46, by Sen. Arthur Orr and Sen. Donnie Chesteen, creates the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact allowing licensed teachers to practice among compact states. The bill also establishes the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact Commission and provides for membership, powers, duties, and rulemaking functions of the commission. SB46 passed the House and Senate and has been signed into law by the Governor.

SB52, by Sen. Arthur Orr, amends Alabama Safe at Schools Act to include adrenal insufficiency as a condition for which the State Board of Education is required to develop guidelines to train school employees under the act. It also authorizes certain school employees to administer injectable medications to students with adrenal insufficiency and to require local boards of education to ensure that students with adrenal insufficiency have their medical needs met and are not excluded from certain activities. SB52 passed the House and Senate and has been signed into law by the Governor.

SB263, the Alabama Accountability Act Expansion by Sen. Donnie Chesteen, passed the House and Senate and has been signed into law by the Governor. This bill changes the terms “failing school” and “nonfailing school” to “priority school” and “qualifying school,” revises the poverty threshold for determining the qualifications of an eligible student, provides scholarships for eligible students with unique needs, and increases the maximum cumulative amount of tax credits that may be issued each year. AEA worked with Sen. Chesteen to ensure the changes being made are not detrimental to the ETF

SB267, by Sen. Donnie Chesteen, creates the Athletic Trainer Secondary School Incentive Program to provide grants to local boards of education for athletic trainers in rural, 1A, 2A, 3A, and Title I secondary schools. Additionally, it will authorize the Alabama Board of Athletic Trainers to adopt rules to administer the incentive program and the grant application process. These grants will limit each secondary school and athletic trainer to one grant per school year. SB267 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor.

SB269, by Sen. Arthur Orr, establishes a K-12 Capital Grant Program within the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to provide grants to local schools to assist with capital projects, maintenance, or technology needs. SB269 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor.

SB300, by Sen. Arthur Orr, creates the School Principal Leadership and Mentoring Act and the Alabama Principal Leadership Development System for public K-12 education. It also provides for the creation and implementation of a mentoring program for new principals and a continuing professional learning program for principals and assistant principals, provide annual stipends for each principal and assistant principal who satisfactorily completes the program, and provides for the correlation between this act and the Alabama Instructional Leadership Framework under the Alabama Numeracy Act. SB300 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor.

HB34, by Rep. Tracy Estes, makes discharging a firearm on school property unlawful. Currently, it is unlawful to discharge a firearm into an occupied or unoccupied school building. HB34 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor.

HB41, by Rep. Rex Reynolds, temporarily permits certain retired individuals performing duties as school resource officers or as correctional officers to serve without suspension of his or her retirement allowance. HB41 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor.

HB45, by Rep. Jeremy Gray, creates the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act requiring the state Board of Education to adopt certain guidelines and information sheets regarding sudden cardiac arrest and distribute those information sheets to students, parents, and coaches. Also, it requires coaches to undergo training related to sudden cardiac arrest and to remove students who exhibit symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest from play. HB45 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor.

HB103, by Rep Alan Baker and Rep. Terri Collins, authorizes the use of up to eight weeks of sick leave for attending to an ill child for whom a petition for adoption has been filed and for attending to an adopted child. HB103 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor

HB164, by Rep. Andy Whitt, requires students to complete a personal financial literacy and money management course before graduation. It also provides for the creation and administration of a financial literacy examination and requires the reporting of a summary of examination results to the State Department of Education. HB164 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor.

HB217, by Rep. Anthony Daniels, excludes overtime hours worked above 40 per week from being taxed. This bill passed the House and Senate and was sent to the Governor, where she added an executive amendment removing the $25 million cap but added a one-year sunset provision. The bill was then sent back to the legislature, where both chambers concurred, and then to the Governor’s Office, where it was signed into law.

HB261, by Rep. Susan DuBose, prohibits a biological male from participating in an athletic team or sport designated for females and prohibits biological females from participating on an athletic team or sport designated for males. HB261 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor.

HB363, the Charter School Bill by Rep. Terri Collins, changes the appointment process for the Alabama Public Charter School Commission, authorizes the commission to hire staff, requires commissioners to receive annual training, provides additional guidelines for the authorizing and application review process, provides further for the operational and categorical funding of public charter schools in their first year of operation, and clarifies the per pupil federal and state funding of conversion public charter schools during their first year of operation. AEA fought and successfully added language to this bill to ensure the charter law stayed STRONG, removing language that could have potentially incentivized failing charter schools to remain open. HB363 has passed the House and Senate and has been signed into law by the Governor.

HB364, by Rep. Steve Hurst, requires a public K-12 school or a local board of education to accept certain forms of payment for admission to certain school-sponsored events. HB364 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor.

HB430, by Rep. Danny Garrett, expands the size of the Alabama Literacy Task Force from 20 to 25 members and mandate the task force to review curriculum content to ensure age appropriateness and verify that it “reflects the state's core values.” In the original bill introduced, AEA representation had been struck from the task force. AEA’s lobby team worked with the sponsor and committee members to retain AEA representation on the task force. HB430 passed the House and Senate and has been signed into law by the Governor.

Bills passed by the legislature and transmitted to the Governor for signature within five (5) days before the end of the session may be approved within ten (10) days after adjournment. Bills not approved within that time are considered pocket vetoed and do not become law.

Each bill listed in the "Heart Still Beating" section was transmitted to the Governor within five days of the end of the session. Therefore, Governor Ivey has until Friday, June 16th, to sign the remaining bills into law.

883 bills were introduced by the Legislature in the 2023 Regular Legislative Session. AEA staff read and monitored each bill daily to ensure they would positively affect public education.

While you were busy serving our state's students, we had your back in the Alabama Legislature.

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