The Alabama Legislature met two days last week and now has only three days left in the session. The week was productive with passage of the Education Trust Fund (ETF) Budget in the House and passage of the General Fund Budget in the Senate. The ETF was the largest budget in the state’s history at $7.7 billion. Likewise, the $4.2 billion General Fund Budget was the largest in history. The budgets included 2% pay raises for educators and state employees. It was unimaginable the state would have been in such great financial shape just a few months ago during the peak of COVID and high unemployment across the state.
Big Issues Left to Be Addressed
The House still has not tackled the compressive gambling legislation passed by the Senate. Allowing gambling in a conservative state like Alabama is a big enough hurdle. Add in the complexities of a new casino location and giving existing casinos final bid option for the license the issue might be too much to address in three days. Even if the House passes the legislation package, Alabama residents will have the final say. The legislation is a constitutional amendment which requires approval in a future election.
The House also has legalization of marijuana on its plate and a ban on transgendered athletes. Needless to say, it could be a busy final days for the House.
A two-bill package providing revenue to Alabama’s state parks passed the Legislature this week. One bill awaits Governor Ivey’s signature while the other, a proposed constitutional amendment, will appear on next year’s primary election ballot. Together, these bills authorize the issuance of $80million in bonds, with the proceeds spent for the “improvement, renovation, acquisition, provision, construction, equipping, and maintenance” of Alabama’s State Parks. The funds would be spent by the Alabama State Parks Enhancement Authority. This bond issue follows in the footsteps of a similar one from 1998 when voters approved a $110million issue to help with state parks.
Bills of Interest to the Concrete Industry
House Bill 227 by Representative Joe Lovvorn is still awaiting final passage in the Senate. The bill would provide up to a $3,000 tax credit for construction of a safe room in your primary residence. The bill passed the House 96 – 0 so is considered non-controversial. Hopefully the bill will be placed on the special-order calendar this week in the Senate.
The legislature will reconvene on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.