Published January 19, 2018 | ALConcrete.org
The Alabama Legislature convened on Tuesday, January 9th for the 2018 Legislative Session. Since 2018 is an election year, the legislature began a month earlier than usual. The leadership is forecasting a quick session with the possibility of ending well before the allotted 30 meeting days. While things are subject to change, the leadership is hoping to pass the budgets early then adjourn to allow members to go home and campaign.
Budgets in Surprisingly Good Shape
The Education Trust Fund (ETF) and the General Fund Budget are both forecasted to be in good shape for 2019. The ETF and the General Fund are expected to have $200 million more than the current budgets. With the strong financial forecast, the Governor is proposing a pay raise to state employees and teachers. Education employees received a pay raise during the 2016 session, but it has been several years since state employees received a pay raise.
Controversial Legislation on the Shelf
During the previous two sessions, the legislature was bogged down on a gas tax and a plan to build four new men’s’ prisons in the state. The leadership has publically stated it will not address a gas tax this session unless Congress implements an infrastructure program and the state needs additional funds for matching purposes. In respect to prisons, the Department of Corrections and the Executive branch plan to tackle the overcrowded prisons outside of the legislature. The DOC is in the process of hiring a construction manager to begin the prison construction process. The move takes the legislature off the hook on the controversial issue. While prison construction is removed, the Legislature will still be forced to provide additional money to the DOC to hire additional guards and address mental health. With the recent court ruling against the state, the state risks a federal takeover if the two issues are not addressed.
Bills of Interest to the Concrete Industry
House Bill 40 by Representative Kyle South would allow additional weight for vehicles on the interstate system if the vehicle is powered by compressed natural gas or liquid natural liquid gas.