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For Immediate Release: March 27, 2012

Halfway Point in 2012 Legislative Session

    Representative Wes Long believes the Alabama Legislature has accomplished a number of significant things in the first fifteen legislative meeting days.  “Although I recognize there is much hard work yet to be done on the budgets, I feel that we have addressed some important things which will help our economy and our citizens,” Long said. 

    The Legislature will reconvene on April 3rd.  Following are some highlights from the session thus far:

The “Heroes for Hire” Tax Credit Act, House Bill 152, sponsored by Rep. DuWayne Bridges (R-Valley), passed unanimously by House and Senate, sent to the Governor for signature.
    •With wars winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of Alabama veterans will soon return home to a difficult economy in which it is hard to find a job.
    •This proposal would offer Alabama businesses a $2000 tax credit for hiring a veteran recently returned from war.

Aviation and Aerospace Economic Incentives, House Bill 39 sponsored by Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan), passed by the House, amended and passed by the Senate, pending House or conference committee action
    •This bill would provide for a special tax incentive allowing Alabama to target aircraft manufacturers and aircraft parts manufacturers.

Enhanced Incentives to Recruit Job-Creating Coal Mining Projects, House Bill 144 sponsored by Rep. Bill Roberts (R-Jasper), passed by House and Senate, signed by the Governor.
    •This bill enhances the state’s ability to recruit coal mining companies by allowing them to qualify for certain existing tax incentives currently available to manufacturers and other businesses.

Alabama Film Incentive Enhancement Act, House Bill 243 sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, passed by House, passed by Senate committee, pending action by the full Senate
    •Alabama has long trailed behind in the film and television production industry because our state lacked the incentives other states have to help attract these job-creating productions here.
    •A 2011 law that included television productions in Alabama’s film incentive has already rendered great success as the popular shows “Rocket City Rednecks,” “Big Shrimpin’” and “Sweet Home Alabama” all based their productions in Alabama.
    •This bill would expand Alabama’s film/television production incentive cap from $10 to $15 million, making Alabama more competitive in the industry.
    •The bill would also double the amount productions could spend and count toward tax incentive rebates from $10 million to $20 million. This would help Alabama attract larger productions that will in turn create more jobs.

The Alabama Data Processing Center Economic Incentive Enhancement Act, House Bill 154 sponsored by Rep. Dan Williams (R-Athens), passed by House, passed by Senate Committee, pending action by the full Senate
    •Data processing centers are key components of the 21st century economy. These centers employ a skilled workforce, provide high-paying jobs, and have a low environmental footprint. Alabama is uniquely positioned to compete for jobs in this growing industry.
    •This proposal would expand the scope of certain tax incentives in order to focus on recruiting more data processing centers to Alabama.

The Alabama Job Creation and Retention Act, House Bills 159 & 160 Sponsored by Rep. Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka), passed by the House, pending committee action in the Senate
    •This constitutional amendment (HB 159) would allow voters to give the Governor and the Alabama Development Office more flexibility in offering tax incentives to land major economic development projects and retain companies that might otherwise relocate outside Alabama without having to call a special session of the Legislature.
    •The corresponding enabling bill (HB160) sets strict parameters for how incentives can be used to ensure return on investment.

Legislative Payraise Repeal, House Bill 276 sponsored by Rep. Mike Ball (R-Huntsville), passed by House committee, identical bill passed by Senate committee
    •This Constitutional Amendment would repeal the 2007 pay raise and allow voters to determine legislative pay at the ballot box.
    •The plan put before the voters would tie legislative pay to median household income so it would increase or decrease based on how Alabamians are doing economically
    •The amendment also repeals automatic cost-of-living adjustments passed in 2007.

The Education Options Act of 2012, House Bill 541 sponsored by Rep. Phil Williams (R-Huntsville), currently pending in the House Education Ways and Means Committee
    •This bill would help educators customize schools for the needs of their students by allowing school systems to seek flexibility from burdensome state laws and regulations and establish public charter schools.

Pension Reform,- House Bill 508, by Reps. Jamie Ison (R-Mobile) & Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw), passed by House committee, identical bill passed by Senate committee
    •Currently, anyone may retire with 25 years of service, no matter how young they are. Or, they can retire at age 60 as long as they’ve served for 10 years.
    •This plan sets a minimum retirement age of 62 for most employees, saving the state more than three billion dollars over 30 years.
    •For law enforcement, the minimum retirement age would be 56.
    •These changes do not affect current employees or retirees – whether they’re vested or not. This will only be for new employees hired beginning in 2013.

The “TTYL” Act, House Bill 2 sponsored by Rep. Jim McClendon (R-Springville), passed by the House, pending committee action in the Senate
    •This bill would prohibit driving a vehicle on an Alabama highway or street while using a wireless telecommunication device to write, send or read a text-based communication, including email.

Constitutional Reform, House Bills 357 & 358 sponsored by Rep. Pau DeMarco (R-Homewood), passed by the House, passed in Senate committee, pending action in the full Senate
    •House Bill 357 updates and modernizes language in Article 12 of the 1901 Alabama Constitution dealing with private corporations, railroads and canals.
    •House Bill 358 updates and modernizes Article 13 dealing with banks and banking law.

Spurring Investment in Struggling Communities, House Bill 257 sponsored by State Rep. Jamie Ison (R – Mobile), passed by the House, pending committee action in the Senate
    •This bill would encourage economic investment and job growth in low income areas by leveraging available federal tax incentives with new state tax incentive offerings.
    •In exchange for their investments in qualified businesses and projects located in low-income downtown areas throughout Alabama, the state will offer investors a future tax credit.
    •Investors could claim a 50 percent graduated tax credit over the course of seven years for investments up to $240 million. The credit is zero for the first year and 8 percent for each of the next five years, the ten percent the seventh year.

Restricting Funeral Disruptions, House Bill 238, sponsored by Rep. DuWayne Bridges (R-Valley), passed by the House, pending committee action in the Senate
    •This bill sets a perimeter of 1000 feet, or two blocks, for any disruption of a funeral in Alabama.

Updating the “Move Over” Highway Safety Law to Protect Service Vehicles, House Bill 76 sponsored by Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R-Huntsville), passed by the House, passed by Senate committee, pending Senate action
    •Currently Alabama’s “move over” law requires drivers to vacate the lane closest to public safety vehicles parked on a roadside.
    •This bill would ensure that service vehicles, such as utility trucks and wreckers and the workers that drive them, are also protected by requiring drivers to slow down and move over to allow them room to work safely.

Cracking down on synthetic drugs, House Bill 158 sponsored by Rep. Allen Farley (R-McCalla), passed by the House, pending committee action in the Senate
    •In addition to traditional drugs, synthetic drugs known as “spice” or “salts” have become an increasing problem in Alabama.
    •Updates to the law are necessary to allow law enforcement officers to crack down on such substances and protect Alabama neighborhoods from the latest manifestations of drugs.
    •Under this bill, anyone who possesses, manufactures, delivers or traffics one of these synthetic cannabinoid-like substances would be guilty of a felony and subject to fines ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 and a minimum prison term of between three years and life depending upon the amount of drugs involved.

Rewarding Teacher Certification, House Bill 251 sponsored by Rep. Jay Love (R-Montgomery), passed by the House, passed by Senate committee, identical bill already passed by the Senate
    •This bill sets aside $2.3 million in a conditional appropriation to fund a $5,000 bonus for teachers who become national board certified.
    •In Alabama we want excellent teachers in every classroom preparing the next generation of Alabamians to be our greatest yet. Supporting our teachers in their pursuit of national board certification helps us make that a reality.

Reorganizing ALDOT to Ensure Accountability, Responsiveness, House Bills 355 and 402 sponsored by Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw), passed by the House, pending committee action in the Senate
    •House Bill 355 would alter the organizational structure of ALDOT by giving the Transportation Director the authority to appoint three deputy directors to help oversee the operations of the Department. House Bill 402 would specifically change the position of Chief Engineer from a merit system position to an appointed position.
    •Adding up to three deputies to help oversee this process and designating the chief engineer as an appointed position will translate into more accountability and responsiveness from the Department.

Reducing costly fees to make storm shelters less expensive while maintaining building safety guidelines, House Bill 288 by Rep. Mac Buttram (R-Cullman), passed by the House, pending committee action in the Senate

Making looting after a declared emergency a felony in Alabama, House Bill 340 by Rep. John Merrill (R-Tuscaloosa), passed by the House, pending committee action in the Senate



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