The Alabama Legislature has now passed the half way point of the session with only 14 possible meeting days left for the year. Still needing to be addressed is the two ton elephant in the room, the General Fund Budget and the approximately $500 short fall. The Governor continues to tour the state discussing the huge problem, but so far the Legislature has yet to tackle the issue.
Last week, Senator Arthur Orr, Chairman of the Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee floated a budget with cuts between 20% and 30%. Cuts of this magnitude are going to cause problems even for agencies that still have fat to trim. How this process all shakes out is anyone’s guess, but things will need to happen sooner rather than later unless the Legislature wants to return for a special session.
Flat Tax Legislation Introduced
Senator Bill Hightower, R-Mobile, this week introduced Senate Bill 409, a constitutional amendment to cut the income tax rate from five percent to 2.75 percent, cut the corporate tax rate from 6.5 percent to 4.59 percent, eliminate deductions, exemptions and credits and “simplify” the tax filing process. If approved by Alabama voters, the changes would be effective Jan. 1, 2017. Hightower’s bill has 19 co-sponsors, representing the majority of the Alabama Senate. The Business Associations’ Tax Coalition, of which the ACIA is a member is expected to complete an analysis of and discuss the bill early next week. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee will consider Hightower’s bill Wednesday.
Issues Specific to the Concrete Industry
Concrete Industry Legislation Clears Senate Committee
The association’s top legislative priority, Senate Bill 266 cleared the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee on Thursday. Senate Bill 266 will increase the hours of service for commercial drivers operating intrastate to 12 hours of drive time in a 15 hour shift from the current 11 hours of drive time in a 14 hour shift. SB 266 will also increase the on the clock for a 7 day period to 70 hours instead of the current 60 hours. The additional hours will be limited to drivers inside of a 75 air mile circle of their home plant. The association mediated the bill with the trial lawyers and the state troopers in order to remove the group’s objections. The 75 air mile rule was a concession we were forced to make, but should more than meet the driving requirements of the ready mix industry.
The Alabama Legislature will reconvene on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.
Should you have any questions regarding this report, please contact the association office.