2013 Legislative Session Recap

May 28, 2013 No Comments ›› Admin

The 2013 legislative session adjourned at midnight on May 20. Overall, there were 1,176 bills introduced in the House and Senate. Of those bills, 156 general bills, 24 Sunset bills, three Constitutional Amendments and 114 local bills passed. I am proud of what my legislative colleagues and I were able to accomplish this session by passing smart legislation that will continue to help the state of Alabama move forward. Below are highlights from the session:

Alabama Accountability Act

This historic bill provides tax credits to families with students in consistently failing schools to attend a non-failing public or private school. It also gives flexibility to local school boards so they can tailor their programs to the needs of their students.

Historic Tax Credit Bill

As sponsor of the Senate version of HB140, I was proud to see this bill pass and sent to the Governor to sign. HB140 provides tax credits for the rehabilitation, preservation and redevelopment of historic structures throughout the state. Eligible projects must be a historic structure certified by the Alabama Historical Commission and total annual credits issued by the Historical Commission must not exceed $20 million.

Budgets

On the last day of the legislative session, Governor Bentley signed the $5.77 billion Education budget and the $1.75 billion General Fund budget. A few major items discussed for the Education budget include a 2 percent pay raise for teachers and additional pre-K funding. I was most proud to see an additional $9.4 million added to fund the state’s pre-K program. I believe a strong foundation in education must start at an early age and additional funding for the state’s highly rated pre-K program will provide 1,500 more 4-year olds with access to this program.

Red Tape Reduction Act

The Red Tape Reduction Act is a major milestone in making it easier to do business in Alabama by relieving businesses from inefficient government regulations. As a small business owner, I am happy to see this legislation pass the House and Senate. Businesses throughout Alabama should spend time growing their business, not dealing with bureaucratic red tape.

Government Efficiency

The effort to make state government more efficient was a top priority for this legislative session. Two major successes to streamline government include public safety and the state IT department:

Law Enforcement:  Senate Bill 108 consolidates over 20 public safety agencies down to seven and will save the state an estimated $26-$30 million per year. It establishes the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency and a Secretary of Law Enforcement to oversee state-level law enforcement functions. Breaking down these barriers between agencies will go a long way toward eliminating redundancies and making our law enforcement agencies more efficient and responsive.

Information Technology:  There is currently no coordination between state agencies for Information Technology (IT). The state is losing millions of dollars each year because of this lack of efficiency. The legislature passed a much needed bill this year that establishes a Secretary of Information Technology who will identify ways to save money and improve coordination within the state’s IT networks. Projected savings from this restructuring are $30-$60 million annually.

Medicaid

SB340, sponsored by Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper), restructures the Medicaid system in Alabama by offering quality healthcare and creating regional care organizations. This new system eliminates the current model of fee-for-service care. It will not only save the state an estimated $250 to $350 million from 2015-2019, but will also improve the quality of care for Medicaid recipients throughout the state.

This is just a quick recap of some of the highlights from the session. If you would like more details about something specific I did not cover, please contact me at any time. As your state senator, I will continue to work on smart legislation throughout the year that will help move Alabama forward. Please contact me if I can be of assistance to you or your family.