Here we go: Last days of session, part one

By this time 48 hours from now, the 2018 Regular Session will be done-zo. Well, at least we think so.

A few notes on timing…

  • Most everyone believes lawmakers will meet today and tomorrow and be done with it.
  • However, if they stay in session past midnight tomorrow, they make it so that any bill sent to Governor Ivey last week can’t be “pocket vetoed.”
  • That is to say, the governor would need to affirmatively veto or amend before midnight on Wednesday, or else it becomes law automatically.
  • Bills fitting that description include Sen. Greg Reed’sUAB Rural Hospital Resource Center and Rep. Elaine Beech’sbill to revise audit procedures for pharmacy benefit managers.

Big issues to watch…

Education Budget

  • A House-Senate Conference Committee to resolve differences in the Education Trust Fund Budget is scheduled for 11:00 this morning. They should report a bill out no problem.
  • That doesn’t mean the House and Senate will vote on it right away, though.
  • So long as the budget has not been transmitted to the governor, both chambers keep the legislative hurdle known as the Budget Isolation Resolution, which makes it harder for bills to pass. A lot of folks don’t want it to be easy for bills to pass.

Economic Development / Ethics

  • One of the most-watched bills this session has been HB317, the Alabama Jobs Enhancement Act.
  • The bill makes sure site selectors for the likes of Hyundai and Mazda-Toyota aren’t forced to register as lobbyists with the government, which could be enough to spook away potential projects.
  • The bill was amended in the House to satisfy some concerns, but critics remain, including Ethics Commission Director Tom Albritton.
  • Word is that talks are ongoing between top Senate leadership and the Governor’s office to see if there’s a path forward. A prolonged filibuster in the Senate could doom the bill.

Racial profiling 

  • Last week, the House adjourned with a bit of a sour taste in its mouth when failure to pass a racial profiling / data collection bill led Democrats to retaliate by filibustering Republican legislation.
  • That bitterness will likely spill into this week and could easily slow things down in both chambers unless lawmakers can come to some kind of agreement.
  • Go back and read Brian Lyman’s story on the racial profiling bill dust up to understand more.

Simplified Sellers Use Tax

  • Legislation to settle on a framework for sales and use taxes between local governments and out-of-state retailers has one last chance to pass the Senate.
  • Back in 2015, Alabama created the Simplified Sellers Use Tax program to allow out-of-state retailers like Amazon to begin voluntarily paying state and local sales tax, which is good for state/local revenue and a good legal bet for retailers.
  • But, there’s an issue with out-of-state entities who acquire property in state (Amazon recently bought Whole Foods).
  • County Commissioners are fired up and eager to see Rep. Rod Scott’s HB470 pass the Senate, but that probably won’t happen until an agreement is made on discount and distribution amounts.

When posting legislative preview stories yesterday, I didn’t see Mike Cason’s latest. But it’s here, it’s thorough, you should read it.

And in case you didn’t read yesterday, here are preview stories from Brian Lyman at the Advertiser and Kim Chandler at the Associated Press (story HERE, bill roundup HERE).