1st Special Session Update
The bill to increase NP representation on the Alabama Board of Nursing was not eligible for the Special Session. The only thing that caused concern was SB3 (Dial), creating "the Office for Regulatory Oversight of Boards and Commissions to provide regulatory oversight for actions undertaken by state boards composed of a majority of active market participants." The bill passed out of the Senate committee, but did not move beyond that.
There are two primary reasons to watch this bill in future sessions: 1) it imposes potentially onerous fees on nurses; and 2) it ensures antitrust immunity for boards it governs.
First Special Session Wrap Up
It is not surprising that an agreement could not be reached on a solution to the budget issue. There are multiple factions in both chambers, and the Governor called the special session long before those factions had time to build any kind of consensus.
The big question now is: when will the governor call them back? And in the meantime, will any progress be made on finding a solution? At some point, the reality of the funding problems has to meet head on with the reality of polls showing an overwhelming majority of Alabama citizens do not want new taxes.
There still appears to be no consensus in the Senate on a solution to the budget issue, as they passed a budget almost identical to the one vetoed by the Governor in the Regular Session.
On the Republican side, Sen. Pro Temp Del Marsh will likely again propose gambling legislation for a lottery and/or Class III gaming. Other solutions include a transfer of the use tax ($225 million) from the Education Trust Fund (ETF) to the General Fund (GF), combining the ETF and the GF into one budget, and a mix of taxes, reform, and transfers.
On the Democrat side, there are two primary issues: 1) The Black Caucus has not had a seat at the table for any discussions related to the budget problem, and 2) Democrats will not consider tax increases without an expansion of Medicaid
According to the constitution, any new taxes must originate in the House. In this special session, none made it out of committee and let alone onto the floor for a vote. Once the cigarette tax failed in committee, other tax bills were abandoned and a budget with over $150 million in cuts (25%) to Medicaid was passed and eventually sent to the Senate.
The House voted 92-2 against concurring with the Senate-passed budget on the next to last day of the special session, which killed the budget and ensures the Governor will call everyone back for (at least) one more special session.
There seems to be a growing appetite (while holding the nose) in the House for passing two tax bills when they return: a bill that would remove the deduction on State returns for FICA taxes and the cigarette tax. The two combined would raise an estimated $240 million.
Bills of Note that Passed:
SB24 (Pittman): Require all persons or companies exempt from the payment of sales, use, and lodgings taxes, other than governmental entities, to annually obtain a certificate of exemption from the Department of Revenue
HB20 (Hanes): Increase the minimum number of hours of behind-the-wheel driving practice required for a driver's license for a person 16 years of age from 30 to 50.
HB25 (Ingram): Requires out-of-state buyers to pay state sales tax on purchases of automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, truck trailers, or semitrailers
HB42 (Johnson, K): Eliminate the option to have no state income taxes withheld
HB45 (Mooney): Authorize Briarwood Presbyterian Church to hire police officers with the powers of law enforcement officers in this state
HB49 (Scott): Require businesses not domiciled in Alabama, but with a nexus presence in Alabama to pay state income tax, and establish a system for determining said nexus