The halfway point of the 2015 Alabama Legislative Session was marked by a familiar scenario in the State Senate: a Democrat filibuster that slowed legislative activity to a virtual halt. Legislators in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle continue to consider options for the staggering cuts in the General Fund, although there is still no definitive approach.

Senate Passes Medicaid Resolution; Filibuster Begins

Governor Bentley has opposed the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. On Tuesday, the Republican supermajority in the Alabama Senate passed a resolution to send a clear message to the Governor that the Alabama Legislature also opposes expanding Medicaid and has no intention of allocating funds to any expansion. The resolution passed 22-8. True to their word, Democrats senators began a filibuster that lasted the rest of the week and slowed any progress on potential legislation.

House Agrees To Establish New Board For Two-Year College System

The House of Representatives approved a measure to create a new governing board for Alabama’s two-year college system by a vote of 82-11. A new board would include 9 members appointed by the governor and approved by the Alabama Senate with no oversight from the State Board of Education. The Governor would serve as president of the 10-member board. There would be one member from each of the seven congressional districts, one member from the state at-large and one non-voting member who is also on the state Board of Education. Last month, the Alabama Senate approved the bill. It now returns to the Senate for final approval due to House changes.

Bill To Delay Alabama Trust Fund Repayment Clears House Committee

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee voted to delay for one year a scheduled $15 million repayment to the Alabama Trust Fund. Committee Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said the bill could be one piece in the solution to the state’s General Fund budget shortfall for 2016, projected at more than $200 million. Payment would be delayed to 2017.

Bill To Codify Non-Compete Covenants Passes Senate Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee favorably reported legislation to better define restrictive covenants in contracts between businesses and their employees. The legislation would replace the existing statute with a more definitive list of protectable interests and reasonable restraints on length-of-time and geographic-area limitations. The House version of the bill has already passed the House Judiciary Committee.

Senator Introduces Flat Tax Legislation

Senator Bill Hightower, R-Mobile, has filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would replace the Alabama income tax with a flat tax of 2.75 percent on the federal Adjusted Gross Income of individual taxpayers and a rate of 4.59 percent for corporate taxpayers. If the Legislature passes the bill, the voters must still ratify it. The bill is expected to be before the Senate Taxation Education Committee this week.

Throughout the session, the Bob Riley and Associates team will monitor all proposed and pending legislation and maintain a presence in the Statehouse to protect our clients’ interests. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call on us.

Minda Riley Campbell

Bob Riley and Associates

3530 Independence Drive

Birmingham, Alabama 35209

205-484-0099 (office)