2016 Newsletter Issue 7 March 18, 2016
From our DesK ... The Ides of March came and went and the only deaththat occurred was a plethora of bills. Luckily no blood was shed on the Senatefloor. After a slowdown last week, the Senate gave final approval to the billsponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney dubbed the Right to Work bill. Passage willallow the citizens of the state to vote to place language currently found in anAlabama Statute in the Alabama Constitution. Many economic developers andothers believe this will be a tool to lure more industry in the state. Thelegislation passed 25-9 but required the Senate to invoke what is called acloture petition that cuts off debate. Aspreviously reported the law states that
Hot Topics: Right to Work Passes Save the Date: Tax Returns Data Breach Special Calendar Bills Prison Bill Continues Battle Deceptive Trade Practices Not So Sneaky in Legislature Trade & Industry Nods to MDG Client Special Session Showdown Alabama History Bama-n-Brews Legislative Calendar
Alabamians have the right towork without their membership or lack of membership in a union being acondition of employment.
Date for Tax Returns is Topic of Bill Moving in theLegislature Bills by Sen. Quinton Rossof Montgomery and Rep. Anthony Daniels of Huntsville are both eligible forfinal passage in its respective chambers. The legislation requires due datesfor state income tax returns to correspond to the due dates for federalreturns. Both bills also mandate payment to be made on the return’s due date. This is in response to changes in dates for the federal returns that occurredlast year. The due date for partnershipreturns was moved from April 15 to March 15. The C Corporation returns weremoved from March 15 to April 15. Go figure; it’s the federal government hard atwork.
Data Breach on the Move
SB 238by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, is on the way to the Senate floor and if enactedwould make Alabama the 48th state to provide consumers with timely notificationof data breaches. Under the bill, failure to comply with the act would beconsidered a deceptive trade practice and not a criminal offense. Thelegislation also does not establish a new private cause of action for a civillawsuit. Violators would face penalties of up to $50,000 for each breach, noteach individual affected.
An amendment was proposed todistinguish the bill from the Deceptive Trade Practices but an AssistantAttorney General told the committee the amendment would “seriously weaken thebill.” However, the sponsor said it may be possible to insert the portions ofthe Deceptive Trade Practices Act that the attorney general needs as alitigation framework, rather than applying the full act to a violation. Orrsaid he would continue to work on a possible amendment to add when the billreaches the Senate floor.
The bill is cited as the Alabama Information Protection Act of 2016 requiresbreached entities to notify Alabama’s Attorney General, Alabama residents whoseinformation has been compromised and credit-reporting agencies of breachesinvolving more than 1,000 that could result in financial harm to theindividuals. The notifications are to occur within 60 days of the determinationof a breach with a possible 15-day extension if requested before the 60 daysend. Law enforcement agencies also can delay a notification. Compromised information that would qualify as a notifiable breach would bethe
individual’s first name or initial and last name in combination with anyone of these data elements: A Social Security number Driver’s license or state-issued identificationcard number. A financial account, credit or debit card numberalong with a required security code, PIN, access code or password necessary toaccess the account. Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, has the companion bill in the House.
Like a Phoenix, Special Calendar Bills Arise from the Ashes
HB 148 by Rep. Nodgren was slated for floor consideration this pastweek, but failed to be considered due to ongoing filibusters. The bill permitsretail and state liquor stores to conduct distilled liquor and wine tastings. Also on the House calendar that couldresurface Tuesday is a HB 249 byRep. Kerry Rich dealing with State Park Funds and the Parks Revolving Fund. Thebill prohibits the transfer of their funds to any other state agencies. This isthe companion bill to our esteemed Sen. Clay Scofield’s SB 260.
Deceptive Trade Practices Act SeesMomentum A bill sponsored by Sen.Phil Williams garnered Senate approval and could head to the Senate floor soon. The bill clarifies that the Alabama DeceptiveTrade Practices Act only allows the state’s Attorney General or a localDistrict Attorney to file a class action under the act. This clarification is necessary since the 11thUS Circuit Court of Appeals considered the class-action provision of the law“procedural” and not “substantive.” Sen. Williams told the committee that thischange makes the law crystal clear that it is substantive. He also said that private causes of actionwould still exist but this bill puts the state law what it was before the CourtRuling.
Prison bill begins to Move with no Significant Changes Again this week the Senate Finance Taxation General Fund Committee debated the legislation that would allow for eight new prisons to be built. It was given a favorable recommendation by a slam dunk vote of 15-1 and is eligible for Senate floor debate. The bill was not amended to strip the design build exception out of the bill although
lawmakers said that it should include Alabama contractors. That provision has run into strong opposition from architects, engineers and construction companies all of whom want to see design and build components separated. Senators said that winning margin is misleading. According to at least one member of the committee the vote on the Senate floor is very close because of the design build component. If the provision is stripped from the bill the Governor has vowed to absolutely veto the bill and scrap the entire prison proposal with one exception. He indicated that the only wiggle room could occur on the prison to house the women now in the Julia Tutwiler prison and allow multiple companies to bid that prison project only. The Governor also said that without the new prisons violence will continue to escalate. Bentley said the combination of a prison system that is approaching twice the number of inmates it has room to house supervised by a dramatically understaffed number of corrections officers all in aging prisons must be addressed but is only affordable with the design build concept.
MDG Client Gets Nod by Trade & Industry Development
"Polaris Industries, Mercedes-Benz and Google have been recognized by Trade & Industry Development for the magazine's 11th-annual Corporate Investment & Community Impact (CiCi) Awards. The projects were among hundreds nominated for the awards. ... Polaris Industries -- $150 million plant in Huntsville -- 1,700 jobs 'Off-road vehicles like ATVs and snowmobiles are known for their recreational possibilities. However, Polaris Industries' foray into Huntsville, Alabama, is big business for the off-road vehicle manufacturer and the entire region,' Trade & Industry Development writes." From AL.com
Governor Bentleyvs. Legislature Showdown Looming/ Special Session Rears its ugly head A rumored predicted showdown between Governor Bentley and the legislature ismoving closer to reality. This week the House approved the General Fund budgetwithout the increased funding for Medicaid Agency requested by the Governor.The budget passed provides for $700 million, $15 million more than this year.But Gov. Robert Bentley asked
for $785 million, the amount the agency said itneeds to avoid cutting care and to continue a federally approved plan to changeto a managed care program. The Governor has said he would veto a budget thatdid not meet Medicaid's request and possibly call a special session. Hesuggested the money be transferred from the Education Budget and that proposalwas soundly rejected. The House rejected some amendments by Democrats. One of the failedamendments called for a 4 percent pay raise for state employees and another onethat moved millions from the governor's discretion to Medicaid. The budgetpassed by a vote of 65-35 and was along party lines, with Democrats voting tooppose the budget. It now returns to the Senate since it was modified slightlyin the House. The Senate can concur with the House and send the bill to theGovernor or create a committee of both bodies to determine what will be thefinal version to be sent to the Governor. All indications point to a bill thatwill not contain the number the Governor requested for Medicaid. Most agenciesare set to get the same amount of funding as last year or were cut slightly.Exceptions who received increases include the Courts, Corrections, HumanResources, Mental Health and Public Health are in the 2 to 5 percent range. Legislators took strong exception to pay raises the governor gave late lastyear to some cabinet members and members of his staff and approved an amendmentstripping about $340,000 from the governor's budget, the total amount of thestaff pay raises.
This week in Alabama History we celebrate birthdays: Both born on March 18: 1922- Fred Shuttlesworth, American civil rights activist, born in Mount Meigs, Alabama (d. 2011)
1941- Wilson Picket, American R&B singer (Funky Broadway), born in Prattville, Alabama (d. 2006)
Bama-n-Brews Alcohol bills front and center, yet again, this week at the Alabama legislature
Montgomery Local Bill Seeks Increase
in Liquor Tax Rep. Dimitri Polizo of Montgomery is the sponsor of the bill to levy an additional five percent liquor tax on all spirituous and vinour liquors sold in Montgomery County. It includes the sales tax not only on retail sales but also wholesale. If passed the additional tax collected will be ear-marked for the local Montgomery County District Attorneyâ€™s office.
Beer Growls at the Governor The "Growler bill", also dubbed beer-to-go, passed in the Senate on March 15 and awaits signaturefrom Gov. Robert Bentley. This bill allows brewers to sell beer directly tocustomers. If passed, the law would: Allow breweries that make less than 60,000 barrels peryear to directly sell up to 288 ounces of its beer per customer per day foroff-premises consumption. Allow breweries to deliver up to two donated kegs ofits beer to a licensed charity event. No longer require brewpubs to open only in historicbuildings, historic districts or economically distressed areas.
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Legislature Reconvenes March 22, 2016 The Alabama House of Representatives reconvenes on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 1 p.m. The Alabama Senate reconvenes on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 2p.m.
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MDG Legislative Report "Capitol News & Notes" Issue 7 | March 18, 2016