Goat Hill Report Week Ending April 8, 2016

Legislature Overrides Governor’s General Fund Veto; Medicaid Weighs Cuts

A $1.85 billion general operating budget for the 2017 fiscal year is now law without the governor’s signature and without $85 million of the money Alabama’s Medicaid Agency says it needs to operate.

Act No. 2016-116 became law at 6:18 p.m. Tuesday after both chambers of the Alabama Legislature overrode the governor’s veto of the General Fund budget. The vote was 71-24 in the House and 22-11 in the Senate. The governor, who earlier had said he would call the Legislature back into special session to adequately fund Medicaid, backed off that statement Wednesday, saying he is weighing cuts in order to “live within our means.” Meanwhile, the House and Senate budget committees plan to meet jointly next week to study Medicaid costs.

In jeopardy are the state’s 11 regional care organizations, which were intended to shift the Medicaid delivery system from a fee-for-service model to one that allocates money on a per-person basis tied to health outcomes. The new delivery system was to be operational by October 1st, the same day the “inadequate” budget becomes effective. If the budget shortfall blocks the RCO system, the state will lose $328 million in federal money to jumpstart the RCOs, plus $420 million more over five years the state could have received if it met certain health-related goals.

Concrete Truck Weight Bill Still Awaiting Final Approval in Senate

As mentioned in the past, the House version of our concrete truck weight legislation (HB88 by Representative Barry Moore) has passed the full House and had the first 2 readings in the Senate. All that remains is full passage by the Senate (third reading). The senate version SB 77 (Senator Gerald Dial) has had its first two readings in the Senate and is awaiting its third reading in the Senate.

Our strategy is to bring the Senate version of the bill SB 77 before the Senate and then substitute the house bill on the floor for the senate bill. HB 88 would then have a vote of the full Senate and go to the Governor for signing. In order for SB 77 to be discussed before the Senate, it must be placed on the special order calendar. We have been on the special order calendar for the last 4 meeting days but the Senate has found a way to bog down and adjourn prior to getting to our bill. We hope to be back on the calendar again Tuesday.

We would like to thank Major Ogilvie and Phil Webb who have been instrumental in getting Senate Bill 77 on the special order calendar the past two weeks.

Gas Tax Legislation to Be Debated this Week

House Bill 394 by Representative Mac McCutcheon is expected to be discussed by the full House this week. The legislation would the raise diesel and gas tax by $.06 per gallon. Originally the legislation called for an increase every four years thereafter, but that language has been removed from the bill. If you have not contacted you Representative to ask that he support the legislation, please do so immediately.

Senate Approves Prison Bond Issue

On Tuesday, the Senate approve SB287 by Senator Tripp Pittman which would allow the state to borrow 800 million dollars to construct 4 super prisons in the state. In order to bring the measure up for a vote, the Senate was required to vote closure. Closure is a method used by the supermajority to end debate by the opposition on an issue. While the prison legislation would be valuable to the concrete industry, some contractors and architects are objecting to the legislation due to the design build element in the bill. The legislation now moves to the House.

The Alabama Legislature will return on Tuesday, April 12 for the 21st legislative day.

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