News & Updates
June 20, 2011
30 Reforms in 30 Days
The 2011 Legislative Session has been labeled as one of the most productive sessions in Alabama’s history. Combined, Representatives and Senators introduced 1,206 bills and 1,136 resolutions. Yet the quality of the Legislature’s work far outshines the quantity of its work. To illustrate, here are thirty reforms passed by the House and Senate during their recent thirty legislative days:
1. Act No. 2011-535 by Rep. Micky Hammon – The Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act (House Bill 56) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Handshake with Alabama,” this legislation gives local law enforcement the authority to verify the residency status of those they detain, requires business owners to vet new hires with the “E-verify” system and mandates that recipients of taxpayer-funded public services be legal U. S. residents.
2. Act No. 2011-3 by Rep. Greg Canfield – The Responsible Budgeting and Spending Act (House Bill 57) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Handshake with Alabama,” this legislation mandates state revenue estimates be based upon a 15-year rolling average, absorbing cyclical economic changes and enabling lawmakers to pass “proration-proof” budgets.
3. Act No. 2011-674 by Rep. Mike Ball – The Public Official Transparency Act (House Bill 58) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Handshake with Alabama,” this legislation requires public disclosure of the names of public officials or candidates or spouses of public officials or candidates who are employed by the state or who have a contract with the state.
4. Act No. 2011-617 by Rep. Blaine Galliher – The “No Mandatory Healthcare” Constitutional Amendment (House Bill 60) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Handshake with Alabama,” this legislation proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama which, if ratified, will prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.
5. Act No. 2011-155 by Rep. April Weaver – The Health Care Tax Incentives for Small Businesses and their Employees Act (House Bill 61) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Handshake with Alabama,” this legislation would allow small business employers and employees to deduct 200% of the amounts they pay in health insurance premiums from their state income taxes.
6. Act No. 2011-259 by Rep. Mike Jones – The Alabama Ethics Commission Protection Act (House Bill 62) – part of seven-bill Republican “Handshake with Alabama,” this legislation prevents political retaliation on the Alabama Ethics Commission by ensuring that its annual appropriation is an amount equal to .1% of the total funds appropriated from the State General Fund.
7. Act No. 2011-656 by Rep. Kurt Wallace – The “Right-to-Work” Constitutional Amendment (House Bill 64) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Handshake with Alabama,” this legislation proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama which, if ratified, would ensure Alabama remains a “Right-to-Work” state by guaranteeing the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot on attempts to unionize.
8. Act No. 2011-648 by Rep. Barry Mask and Sen. Mark Keahey – The “Made in Alabama” Job Incentives Act (Senate Bill 447) – allows the state to offer temporary state income tax incentives to offset build-up phase tariff costs for international companies bringing jobs to the state. Alabama is the first state in the nation to implement this idea, which was originally proposed by House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s Commission on Job Creation.
9. Act No. 2011-551 by Rep. Blaine Galliher – The Full Employment Act of 2011 (House Bill 230) – allows the state to offer a $1,000 tax credit to companies who hire workers off the unemployment rolls for jobs paying over $10 per hour.
10. Act No. 2011-27 by Sen. Del Marsh – The DROP Repeal Act (Senate Bill 72) – finally ends the “come one, come all” benefits plan that incentivized government workers to delay retirement so that they could participate in a luxurious benefits plan that was excessive, unnecessary and counter-productive to the state’s educational goals.
11. Act No. 2011-270 by Sen. Tripp Pittman and Rep. Chad Fincher – The “Students First” Teacher Tenure and Fair Dismissal Reform Act (Senate Bill 310) – keeps tenure protection for teachers while giving local school systems and community colleges the authority to fire bad teachers and problem employees for justifiable causes. The bill also removes the costly and time-consuming federal arbitration for termination appeals and replaces it with a fair, common-sense appeals procedure that guarantees due process for teachers while ensuring cost savings for local schools.
12. Act No. 2011-197 by Sen. Del Marsh – The Constitutional Revision Commission Act (Senate Joint Resolution 82) – establishes a seventeen-member Commission empowered to suggest revisions of certain Articles of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901.
13. Act No. 2011-353 by Sen. Arthur Orr – The No “Jim Crow” Language Amendment (Senate Bill 112) – proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama which, if ratified, will delete those remaining “Jim Crow” provisions of the Constitution of Alabama, such as provisions related to the levying of poll taxes and the segregation of schools by race.
14. Acts No. 2011-677 and 2011-518 by Rep. Jim McClendon and Sen. Gerald Dial – The State Board of Education and Congressional Redistricting Plans (House Bill 621 and Senate Bill 484) – redraw the state’s Board of Education and Congressional districts using the latest census data. By passing these reapportionment plans during the Regular Session, the Legislature was able to avoid a costly special session that would otherwise have been called to deal with these issues.
15. Act No. 2011-531 by Rep. Paul DeMarco – The Fiscal Transparency Act (House Bill 25) – requires the state Finance Department to post monthly reports detailing the condition of the state’s General Fund and education budgets so the people know exactly how much money the state has every month.
16. Act No. 2011-315 by Sen. Dick Brewbaker and Rep. Randy Davis – The “Forever Wild” Reauthorization Amendment (Senate Bill 369) – proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama which, if ratified, will continue the state’s “Forever Wild” program for an additional twenty years.
17. Act No. 2011-672 by Rep. Kerry Rich – The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (House Bill 18) – prohibits elective abortions at and after twenty weeks of pregnancy, on the basis that an unborn child is capable of feeling pain twenty weeks post-fertilization.
18. Act No. 2011-673 by Rep. Kerry Rich – The Voter Photo ID Act (House Bill 19) – requires citizens to present a valid, government-issued photo ID before being allowed to vote in elections, a requirement that will cut down on the fraud created under the previous system, which allowed non-photo bearing items – i.e., utility bills or bank statements – to be used to gain access to the voting booth.
19. Act No. 2011-687 by Sen. Arthur Orr – The “Frequent Filer” Campaign Finance Act (Senate Bill 136) – requires more frequent reporting and posting of campaign finance reports, as well as requiring them to be filed electronically. This will make it easier for the public to know exactly who is funding political campaigns and make it harder to hide political contributions.
20. Act No. 2011-697 by Sen. Arthur Orr – The “Robo-Call” Disclosure Act (Senate Bill 284) – provides that electioneering communications and paid political advertisements paid for by an organization or entity shall disclose the names of the sources of the funding of the organization or entity.
21. Act No. 2011-627 by Sen. Ben Brooks – The Alabama Small Business Protection Act (Senate Bill 184) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Tort Reform Package,” this bill protects Alabama retailers from lawsuits aimed at product manufacturers rather than product sellers.
22. Act No. 2011-521 by Sen. Cam Ward – The Post-Judgment Interest Reduction Act (Senate Bill 204) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Tort Reform Package,” this bill brings Alabama’s post-judgment interest on jury-awarded rulings to the Southeast average rate of 7.5 percent.
23. Act No. 2011-522 by Sen. Clay Scofield – The Wrongful Death Venue Reform Act (Senate Bill 212) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Tort Reform Package,” this bill prohibits the practice of “venue shopping” in wrongful death actions by mandating that such a suit can be brought only in a county where the deceased could have filed suit.
24. Act No. 2011-629 by Sen. Ben Brooks – The Junk Science Reform Act (Senate Bill 187) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Tort Reform Package,” this bill brings Alabama up to date with the Federal Rules of Evidence and prevents the use of “junk science” testimony in civil litigation.
25. Act No. 2011-519 by Sen. Cam Ward – The Statute of Repose Reduction Act (Senate Bill 59) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Tort Reform Package,” this bill would decrease the statute of repose for commencing an action against an architect, engineer, or builder from thirteen years to seven years.
26. Act No. 2011-293 by Sen. Gerald Allen – The Landowners Protection Act (Senate Bill 84) – part of the seven-bill Republican “Tort Reform Package,” this bill would limit the liability of landowners who lease property for hunting or fishing purposes.
27. Act No. 2011-544 by Rep. Jack Williams – The Homeowners and Storm Victims Protection Act (House Bill 179) – part of the four-piece Republican “Tornado Relief Package,” this bill protects the homestead exemptions of those whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged, ensuring storm victims won’t be subject to an unfair property tax increase.
28. Act No. 2011-235 by Sen. Arthur Orr – The School Calendar Adjustment Act (Senate Bill 271) – part of the four-piece Republican “Tornado Relief Package,” this bill allows the at least 18 local school systems damaged or destroyed by the April 2011 storms to make up missed school days by adjusting the number of instructional hours in a day and authorizes the State Superintendent of Education to excuse days for schools in extraordinary circumstances.
29. Act No. 2011-709 by Sen. Arthur Orr – The Tornado Recovery Tax Incentive Protection Act (Senate Bill 493) – part of the four-piece Republican “Tornado Relief Package,” this bill protects the granting and extension of economic benefits that became impacted and disrupted by the April 2011 storms.
30. Act No. 2011-231 by Speaker Mike Hubbard – The “Promise to Rebuild” Act (House Joint Resolution 460) – part of the four-piece Republican “Tornado Relief Package,” this act commits the Legislature to working with the Governor and the State Superintendent of Education to determine what funding resources are needed to rebuild schools damaged by the April 2011 storms while also ensuring that facilities affected by the storms will be rebuilt and made whole in a timely manner.
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