Next Tuesday
Morning Briefing

Del Marsh
The President Pro Tempore of the Alabama State Senate


BCA-Supported Bills Advance


The 2015 legislative session got under way this week and several legislative priorities of the Business Council of Alabama have already made progress.

The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee favorably reported the BCA-supported Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act, SB 45, on Wednesday. The charter school bill received a second reading on Thursday, placing it in position for consideration by the full Senate next week.

BCA-supported innovator liability and consumer lawsuit lending reform legislation was introduced this week, and the prison reform bill had a public hearing.

Just ahead of both chambers being gaveled to order, the BCA held its first Tuesday Morning Briefing of the session with House Speaker Mike Hubbard. Hubbard, R-Auburn, who said that the House Republican Caucus supports Business Council of Alabama goals.

Hubbard said the House Republican Caucus's plan is to quickly advance charter school legislation and send it to Governor Robert Bentley for consideration. "I believe this is the year we get it done," Hubbard said.

On Tuesday night, Gov. Bentley gave his fifth State of the State address and presented his legislative plan that includes over $500 million in new tax increases primarily directed at existing industry sectors in Alabama.

Both chambers adjourned Thursday morning due to the inclement weather affecting a large portion of the state.


Public Charter Schools One Step Closer to Becoming Reality


The Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is in position to be considered by the full Senate on Tuesday.

The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee voted 4-3 along party lines on Wednesday to favorably report a substitute SB 45, the public charter school bill. The bill received a second reading on Thursday.

BCA President and CEO William J. Canary was one of several who testified in support of the bill, which is explained in its fiscal note.

On Wednesday, the BCA sent an Action Alert to all members asking them contact their legislators in support of the bill.

Earlier in the week, Canary spoke with WALA Fox 10 in Mobile.


The BCA has a resource page hosted on our website for The Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act. Please click here to learn more about the issue and ways you can help the BCA make this bill a reality.

Dual-Enrollment Appropriation Considered in Committee


The House Ways and Means Education Committee discussed and then carried over HB 38, which would appropriate $5 million for dual-enrollment, career-tech scholarships. Committee members said the bill should travel with the education budget.

The BCA supports the appropriation to dual-enrollment, career-tech scholarships. "Creating a scholarship program to increase the number of Alabama students who can participate in dual-enrollment is a no-brainer," BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said.

Bill Threatens to Set Alabama Students Back Decades


Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, introduced SB 101 that would repeal Alabama College and Career-Ready standards. The BCA opposes SB 101, which will return Alabama's education standards to the 1990s. The bill was assigned to the Senate Committee Education and Youth Affairs Committee.

In an op-ed, BCA President and CEO William J. Canary explained why Alabama College and Career-Ready Standards are important to student achievement and economic development.

Repealing ACCRS would also strip the authority of the State Board of Education to set high academic standards. Read more about Alabama College and Career-Ready Standards at the Alabama GRIT (Graduate Ready. Impact Tomorrow.) page.


Senate Confirms Two for Alabama Environmental Management Commission


The Senate on Thursday confirmed the reappointments of Houston Lanier Brown II of Birmingham and W. Scott Phillips of Verbena to the Environmental Management Commission. They were nominated by Governor Bentley for terms ending in 2020.

Energy Security Act Clears Committee Hurdle


The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee on Wednesday favorably reported the Energy Security Act, SB 52, by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. The Act is necessary due to a new regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which essentially shifts the jurisdiction of planning, design and development of new transmission projects from the state to the federal government.

If left unchecked, this federal power grab would put Alabama consumers at risk of project abandonment or delay, subpar construction, slow response and recovery during emergency responses, and increased costs. If passed, this act would prevent these risks from being placed on consumers and ensure that Alabama electricity providers maintain the right to construct new transmission lines for Alabama consumers.

The BCA supports this legislation.


Innovator Liability Reform Supported by BCA is Introduced


Innovator liability is a damaging tort theory supported by the Alabama Supreme Court in its 2013 and 2014 Wyeth v. Weeks decisions, which held that a manufacturer could be liable for products that it neither produced nor sold. Innovator liability is bad for existing Alabama manufacturers and does serious harm to our state's business recruiting efforts.

Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, sponsored SB 80, and Rep. Jack "J.D." Williams, R-Vestavia Hills, sponsored HB 110, bills that will reform the process.

The legislation will restore Alabama's long-standing product-liability law and bring us back in line with the majority of states that have rejected the innovator-liability theory. This bill is important for Alabama manufacturers and economic development. See this BCA fact sheet.

Consumer Lawsuit Lending Reform Supported by BCA is Introduced


Consumer lawsuit lending is the unregulated practice of loaning money at exorbitant interest rates to plaintiffs who could potentially receive large settlements or judgments. The plaintiff must repay the lender if any settlement or judgment is received at an interest rate that can exceed 200 percent. This practice targets a vulnerable population, introduces a third-party's interests into the attorney-client relationship, and slows down and increases the cost of litigation for both plaintiffs and defendants.  

Ward also sponsored SB 68, that will subject consumer lawsuit lenders to licensure requirements, existing fair-lending laws, and oversight by the State Banking Department. Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, has the House bill, HB 160. See this BCA fact sheet.

Prison Reform Gets Public Hearing


Over much of the last year, the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force working with the Council of State Governments has been meeting to assess the Alabama prison system and recommend system reforms.

Reform is essential if we are to reduce severe prison overcrowding and prevent a costly federal takeover that could have disastrous fiscal and social consequences for our state.

As a result of the task force's recommendations, Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, filed SB 67. It was the subject of a public hearing Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. No vote was taken and the bill will continue to undergo changes. It likely will be voted on by the committee in the next two weeks.

By strengthening community supervision, diverting low-level property and drug offenders away from prison, supervising anyone leaving prison, better notifying victims of an inmate upon release, and adding more clarity and efficiency to the parole process, the Legislature is making an effort to begin solving Alabama's urgent prison crisis. The legislative action is the result of many months of meeting with law enforcement authorities, victims' advocates, and prison reform experts.

While there remains much work to be done, the BCA applauds the Senate and House Judiciary Committee chairs, Ward and Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, and the Alabama Legislature for working with all stakeholders to address problems within Alabama's prison system.

The BCA supports this bill.


The BCA produced two podcast on prison reform in Alabama. Please listen to learn more.


Episode 1: Justice Reform in Alabama - A discussion with Sen. Cam Ward and Andrew Barbee from the Council of State Governments Justice Center about the current state of Alabama's prison system. This episode is the first in a continuing series on this topic. Listen Now


Episode 4: Justice Reform in Alabama 2 - Billy Canary, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, follows up with Andrew Barbee from the Council of State Governments Justice Center and State Senator Cam Ward of Alabaster about Justice reform in Alabama and specifically "Project Justice Reinvestment". Listen Now


Job Incentive Bills Win Committee Approval


The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee this week favorably reported three bills that would transform industrial recruitment in Alabama. During a public hearing, proponents including Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield touted the new package as being more valuable to industrial targets than the current capital credit and more acceptable to critics because the tax benefits are not paid to the project company until after jobs are created, creating incentives that are on a "pay-as-you-go" basis.

HB 58, the Alabama Jobs Act sponsored by Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, would provide job-credit cash rebate of up to 3 percent of the previous year's gross pay, including fringes, for new and direct jobs, for up to 10 years, and an investment credit of up to 1.5 percent of the capital investment for the project each year for up to 10 years. The investment credit could be used to reduce income or equivalent taxes, and utility or business privilege taxes. The bill would further provide that for companies in certain manufacturing, engineering, research industries as well as data centers, there would be no minimum number of jobs created in order to qualify for the incentives. For all other industries, a minimum of 50 new jobs would be required to qualify.

HB 57, the Alabama Veterans and Rural Jobs Act, by Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatom, would provide rural Alabama counties facing economic development challenges with the opportunity to offer enhanced incentives and access to capital. The enhanced incentives would include lowering the minimum new jobs requirement from 50 jobs to 25 jobs, increasing the jobs credit for qualifying projects from 3 percent to 4 percent, and extending the incentive period for the investment credit an additional five years, for up to 15 years. HB 57 also would create the Accelerate Rural Alabama Fund, which would authorize the State Industrial Development Authority to make loans to fund site preparation for companies in rural counties. A final provision would allow any company that employed veterans totaling at least 12 percent of its eligible workforce in the prior year to receive an additional 0.5 percent jobs credit, bringing the total credit to 3.5 percent of the wages paid during the prior year to eligible employees who are veterans.

HB 59, the Alabama Reinvestment and Abatements Act by Rep. Paul Lee, R-Dothan, would provide incentives that promote capital investment and job growth by existing industry. Existing Alabama companies that qualify under the Alabama Jobs Act and have facilities refurbished, upgraded or returned to service with at least $2 million of capital investment, would be eligible for abatements of non-education, construction-related transaction taxes on materials, non-educational property taxes on the incremental increase in assessed value of the property from the improvements, and an exemption from increased utility taxes for up to 10 years.


BCA supports these bills.

Unitary Combined Reporting Bill Filed in the House


As part of Gov. Bentley's tax increase package, HB 142 by Rep. Mike Hill would establish mandatory unitary combined reporting for Alabama corporations. This tax increase proposal was filed late on Thursday and the BCA policy team is currently analyzing the bill. BCA's longstanding opposition to mandatory unitary combined reporting is reflected in the Tax and Fiscal Policy section of the BCA 2015 State Legislative Agenda.

In keeping with BCA policy, should any tax or tax reform initiatives be proposed, the BCA will not consider supporting such legislation unless it is applied fairly without levying a disproportionate burden on any individual segment of Alabama's economy.

Any tax reform proposal must be tied to governmental accountability and the elimination of wasteful spending. It is further the policy of the BCA that taxes and regulatory fees be properly aligned such that they are commensurate with the actual costs of performing the necessary day-to-day functions of the affected state agencies.


Dana Beyerle
Director of Communications
William J. Canary
President and Chief Executive Officer
Mark Colson
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and
Chief of Staff
Anna Dobbins
Meetings/Events and Communications Coordinator
Leah Garner
Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy
Drew Harrell
Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Strategic Operations
Nancy Wall Hewston
Vice President of Communications, Strategic Information and Federal Affairs
Nathan Lindsay
Vice President for Political Affairs, Regional Operations and Executive Director of ProgressPAC
Trevor Parrish
Legislative Policy Coordinator
Joshua Vaughn
Director of Visual Communications and Strategic Information
Victor Vernon
Vice President for Public Policy
Pam Ware
Manager, Government Affairs and Advocacy

For more information on the Business Council of Alabama contact
Elaine Fincannon | 334.240.8849