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Report Ending January 12th

The 2018 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature convened on Tuesday of this week.  Since this is an election year, and the last year of the quadrennium, members and leadership have expressed an interest in completing the budgets and getting out early, possibly as early as the end of March.  Time will tell if this will work as planned, but it does provide insight into the fact that members would like to get out without much controversy since elections are right around the corner.

The Governor’s budgets have been introduced and include a pay raise for education employees (2.5%) and state employees (3%).  Other priorities from her State of the State address were additional funding for pre-k education and expanding broadband technology, especially in rural areas.

Sales Tax Exemption Certificate Legislation – HB 35

Rep. Danny Crawford has again introduced our bill to allow water boards to be eligible to receive certificates of exemptions from the Department of Revenue for tax exempt construction projects.  The bill is HB 35 and it will be in the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee on Wednesday at 1:30. 

The following members serve on the Ways & Means General Fund Committee, so please contact them before the committee meeting Wednesday if they represent your area:  Steve Clouse, Ken Johnson, Laura Hall, Elaine Beech, Napoleon Bracy, Victor Gaston, Lynn Greer, John Knight, Paul Lee, Mike Millican, Arnold Mooney, Chris Sells, Kyle South, Pebblin Warren, Rich Wingo.

In addition, we need AWWI members to contact their entire House delegation to let them know we support this bill.  That will help as we seek to get the bill on a special order calendar and in preparation for a vote on the floor. The bill has not been introduced in the Senate yet, so please focus your contacts on the House for now.

Other Legislation

There are a number of other bills that will be of interest to AWWI members.  Rep. Tommy Hanes has introduced a local constitutional amendment (HB 183) to prohibit application of treated biosolids in Jackson County, which we will oppose.

Several competitive bid law bills were introduced, including HB 88 and SB 80 that would give preference to vendors owned by veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  HB 43 amends the competitive bid law to define the term minority-owned to mean a business owned at 51 percent by a person of African American, Native American, Asian or Hispanic descent.

Please see that attached bill which would seek to correct an issue with which we have great concern.  This is the issue that we have with several recent cases where employees were sued individually in order to by pass the liability cap which applies to governmental agencies.  Recently, the state Supreme Court upheld one of those verdicts.  This could potentially affect employees acting within the scope of their duties.  It may eventually impact utility's ability to hire and retain employees.The 2015 bill we supported to address this issue is attached for your information.  Please be prepared to talk to your legislative delegation as this bill gets introduced.  It will be opposed by the trail lawyers lobby.