2016 Newsletter Issue 12 May 2, 2016
Quote of the Week: "I apologize to all of the purple people eaters in Alabama!" -- Sen. Trip Pittman, after asking for an amendment to change property line paint legislation to anything besides purple. *Elizabeth suggests pink
Hot Topics: Desk of DK ARHA's Legislative Day Messy Medicaid History Today, or Tomorrow? Theatrics of Goat Hill Workmans Comp Fails BP Money New Directions Allergist Go Nuts in Bama Alabama History Trivia Congress Gets Snappy Polaris Industries Recognized Minimum Wage Yet Again
From our DesK... This week the House passed a resolution to set up the framework for impeachment purposes of a Governor. While impeachment is authorized by the Alabama Constitution it has not been used in a century. The rule required 21 signatures by House members to refer an impeachment resolution to the House Judiciary to investigate the allegations. Many believed that this number was not achievable since the initial resolution to impeach contained 10 co-sponsors. Shock waves moved through the legislature when 23 signatures were garnered. The chief proponent of the effort to impeach, Rep. Ed Henry, accuses Governor Bentley of “willful neglect of duty” and “corruption in office.” Governor Bentley calls the effort a political attack. So what happens next? If the committee determines that there are grounds for impeachment it takes 63 votes of the 105 member House to bring the impeachment articles before the full House. If that occurs and a majority of House members vote to impeach, a trial would be held by the Senate to impeach or not. Clearly this process will go on far after the legislative session ends. Those signing the petition include: (House members) Rep. Ed Henry,R-Decatur, David Sessions, R-Grand Bay; Issac Whorton, R-Valley; Mike Ball, R-Madison; Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville; Tommy Hanes, R-Scottsboro; Ritchie Whorton, R-Scottsboro; Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka; David Standridge, R-Hayden; Barry Moore, R-Enterprise; Danny Crawford, R-Limestone County; Allen Farley, R-McCalla; Jack Williams, R-Wilmer; Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville; Craig Ford, D-Gadsden; Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham; Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City; Becky Nodgren, R-Gadsden; Phil Williams, R-Huntsville; Johnny Mac Morrow, D-Red Bay; and Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road (Montgomery County) and one signature which was illegible.
ARHA Honors Legislators, Visits Statehouse During Inaugural Legislative Luncheon While Alabama may be known for its sweet tea and southern charm, there was no shortage of Southern hospitality when MDG client, the Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Alliance (ARHA), held its annual Legislative Day in Montgomery, on Tuesday, April 26. During their annual luncheon, ARHA honored key legislators that led the
brigade for minimum wage preemption. Honored legislators included Rep. David Faulkner, Sen. Jabo Waggoner and Rep. Arnold Mooney. ARHA was also generous in honoring Miller Development Group for handling all ARHAs governmental affairs for many years. Most noteworthy in attendance was The National Restaurant Association (NRA), American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA). The triumvirate provided industry news to attendees on current issues such as new overtime rules, joint employer implications and online travel companies. Following lunch, attendees visited the Statehouse to watch the legislative session in action and have a glimpse into the fastpaced atmosphere of the Alabama Legislature. During the visit, attendees were also able to advocate for ARHA businesses and the jobs its members create. All three national associations were recognized on the House floor by Speaker Mike Hubbard as special guests. Attendees also had the pleasure to meet with Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh and Sen. Paul Sanford. Both senators took time to speak about issues important to the restaurant and hotel industries. Senator Marsh, a hotelier himself, encouraged attendees to join their industry-related association, e.g. ARHA, as the associations are able to effectively voice its members concerns to legislators. Senator Sanford is not only a restaurateur, but is a recipient of the ARHA Legislator of the Year award, and continues to be a staunch advocate for the industry. The evening concluded with the
2016 Alabama Tourism Bash, a food focused event. Guests enjoyed a reception featuring some of Alabama's finest food and drink while having the opportunity to discuss with lawmakers the impact of the restaurant, lodging and tourism industry in Sweet Home Alabama. ARHA is actively leading in economic development across the state, as well as workforce development. Additionally, ARHA provides members with multiple benefits such as workman's comp, healthcare benefit products, education and training opportunities and more.
Messy Medicaid Meetings This week Alabama Medicaid Agency met with the Joint Medicaid Study Group to present hospitals involvement with Medicaid. Round three will meet next week just before Sine Die. Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar presented to the Joint Study Group with the focus of hospitals and Medicaid. Through provider taxes, $645 million is budgeted to Medicaid for hospitals. “If we did not have provider contributions for the $645 million for hospitals, the General Fund would be responsible for paying that,” said Azar. The main concern of Medcaid's argument (especially to push for RCOs) is that hospitals are self-funded. However, if there are reductions to other parts of Medicaid, that would only drive more patients to emergency rooms. Therefore, straining hospitals’ already tight budgets. The Joint Medicaid Study Group meets again on Wednesday, May 4 at 9 a.m. with the presentation focused on nursing homes.
Historic Tax Credit, Not Quite History Yet MDG will continue to monitor the fate of the Historic Tax Credit with just two legislative days remaining. The bill will have to be assigned by Tuesday and receive a second reading that day leaving the final day for possible passage.
Some business owners, specifically those in the Birmingham and Mobile areas, have benefited from the implementation of the tax credit since several premiere projects have been refurbished due in part to the tax credit. The Federal tax credit can only be claimed if a state offers that same credit. The state program set aside $20 million in tax credits each year for rehabilitation of historical properties in Alabama. Each qualifying commercial project is eligible to receive an income tax credit for 25 percent of the project cost up to $5 million dollars. Projects submitted to the state are chosen by a random drawing if there are more projects than the $20 million could cover. Additionally, the federal government offers a similar tax credit of 20 percent of qualifying restoration expenses. It is reported the combined credits could potentially offset up to 45 percent of a developerâ€™s project costs. Again, this information is according to a news article. The law does allow a developer to either carry the credits forward for up to ten years or sell them to another party. The same report cites an accounting by the Department of Revenue regarding the use of the credits. DOR says that developers for six of the ten projects that have filed to claim the credit are selling the credits anywhere from 63 to 90 cents on the dollar. Some suggest that the credits are government subsidies that manipulate the market; and the reason some of the veteran lawmakers are not sure that it should be continued. There have been huge pushes for the continuation from cities, chambers, developers, and others especially in the metropolitan areas of the state so in a few days it will be history or some type of continuation.
What's Behind the Backdrop of Prison Bill ? The story is unwinding. The scene is set at Goat Hill. Costumes are readily available at Kilby and Tutwiler. The cast has been slated. The lines can't be written because no one knows where the prisons would be built, the economic impact if built, the rationale of the proposed budget and let's not forget the bond issue. Who really benefits from this proposed prison reform? Definitely not the mass population currently incarcerated across Alabama. Even under this backdrop of theatrics (and 7 long hours of debate), the bill passed the House with a vote of 52-33. Due to the fear of lawmakers that a federal takeover would be even worse. The bill has been strengthened to require more reporting to the legislature and a financial impact studies completed prior to the prisons being built (Think Thomas Jefferson taking down Alexander Hamilton's financial plan.) Now one may only hope the music and directed theatrics is amazing as Hamilton. Alas,
let's hope no Aaron Burr shows up to this play.
Workmen’s Compensation Bill Failed to be heard on House Floor HB 359 died in the House on April 27. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Barry Moore, was unable to push through for final passage. RIP HB 359. This is much to the delight of those that are in the Workmen’s Compensation arena. Although the bill does not directly affect those running a fund, many fear that it is a small step in the wrong direction and possibly the first step to a whittling away of the current requirements.
BP Road Trip Changes Directions Clouse ain't clowin' around the statehouse. As Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means General Fund, the legislator hailing from Ozark pushed fellow lawmakers towards the finish line. Late into the night on Thursday, the House passed a new plan for spending BP settlement funds. After a vote of 82-12 on how to use settlement funds, legislation passed to receive an upfront payment and then use it towards debt repayment and coastal road projects. Now it has a mere two days to get through the Senate. And if memory serves MDG well, the Senate definitely has their own views on how to use the BP monies. By paying off debt, this would position Alabama to free up $70 million which could be used for the $85 million shortage for Medicaid. Last year the U.S. Justice department announced a $20 billion final settlement of environmental damage claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It was laid out that Alabama would receive $1 billion annually in installments over the course of 18 years. This specific installment was allocated to the state’s general fund. Additionally, Alabama would receive $1.3 billion
which was allocated for coastal restoration. The $1.3 billion would be paid in installments for the next 15 years. If this current House plan moves forward and passes in the Senate, the monies would be distributed in the following manner: the general fund would receive approximately $639 million up front. Then, the state would use about $450 million of that $639 million to repay previously borrowed money. Finally, it would leave about $191 million for road projects in Alabamaâ€™s coastal counties, Mobile and Baldwin. Stay tuned as MDG is on the front line to see where this goes come Tuesday.
Food Allergists Now Can Go Nuts in Alabama Alabama won't be last on a list now that legislation has passed and been signed into law allowing entities and organizations to house epinephrine auto-injectors (aka: EpiPen) on site. Governor Bentley signed HB 294 into law this week. Sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney, the bill was assigned Act No. 2016-193. Representative Mooney fought for the rights of Alabamians who fear venturing in public places, such as restaurants or camps, due to possiblity of going into anaphylactic shock and not having an EpiPen nearby. Organizations, with the exception of K-12 schools, will include, but not limited to: recreation camps, colleges and universities, day care facilities, youth sport leagues, amusement parks, restaurants, places of employment and sports arenas. This is a great achievement for the safety of all Alabamians and MDG cannot thank Representative Mooney and Senator Chambliss enough for their push to see this come to fruition.
This Week in Alabama History | April 28, 1926 Happy Birthday Nelle Harper Lee! Nelle Harper Lee, better known by her pen name Harper Lee, was an American novelist widely known for To Kill a
Mockingbird, published in 1960. Lee was born in Monroeville, Ala., on April 28, 1926 and passed away on Feb. 19, 2016. In her honor: "The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
Congress Gets Snappy with NOAA Goat Hill may have its own issues to tackle, but on Capitol Hill Alabama delegates are trying to reel in the feds. National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last week recreational fishermen would only be allotted nine days for red snapper 2016 season in the Gulf of Mexico. Both Congressman Byrne and Senator Shelby have introduced legislation for fishery reformation and to protect Alabama fishery boundaries. “The red snapper fishery is vital to fishermen and businesses across Alabama, and the federal government’s continued mismanagement of the nation’s fisheries is unacceptable"- Senator Shelby “Anine day Red Snapper season is a disgrace for Alabama’s fishermen. This type of‘derby-style’ season poses serious challenges and puts the safety of ourfishermen at risk. There are plenty of Red Snapper in the Gulf, but the federalgovernment continues to do a terrible job of counting the number of fish, aswell as the number caught each year." - Congressman Byrne
Polaris Industries Top Company Expanding in Alabama Last week, MDG Client Polaris Industries, was named one of the top companies that invested/expanded in Alabama in fiscal year 2015.
The Alabama Department of Commerce released Alabama's 2015 New and Expanding Industry Report, which included Polaris. The report goes on to show more than 19,000 jobs were created and more than $7 billion in investments were announced in 2015. Thanks to Polaris Industries, Limestone County was the leader in Alabama for job creation with more than 2,600 new jobs. These jobs stem from Polaris' new $140 million off-road vehicle factory, which is annexed in Huntsville. At full production it is expected to employ 1,700 people, if not more. MDG is grateful for the opportunities Polaris Industries brings to Sweet Home Alabama.
Minimum Wage, Yet Again This week, the Alabama National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Greater Birmingham Ministries and two fast-food workers filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. The lawsuit challenges the wage and benefit preemption law as racially motivated and in violation of the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Attorney General Luther Strange, who along with Governor Bentley is named in the suit, said Thursday the AG’s office “will vigorously defend Alabama law.”
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May 3, 2016 The Alabama House of Representatives reconvenes on Tuesday, May 3 at 1 p.m. The Alabama Senate reconvenes on Tuesday, May 3 at 1 p.m.
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