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Special Session Starts

19-Aug-2016

 

Lawmakers convened Monday to consider legislation in response to Gov. Bentley’s call outlining two priorities for the special session

 

Special Session Starts & Stalls on GF Fix     

 

Lawmakers convened Monday to consider legislation in response to Gov. Bentley’s call outlining two priorities for the special session:

A constitutional amendment enabling a state lottery to support the General Fund; and

Legislation providing funding for Medicaid, infrastructure investment, and/or debt repayment.

 

Call Item #1:Lottery

In a 20-11 procedural vote Thursday, the senate failed to stop debate and effectively killed S.11 (McClendon).That lottery bill also included electronic gaming and a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians but failed to garner support after two days of floor debate. At press time Friday, the Senate was debating Gov. Bentley’s proposal, S.3 (McClendon) which simply establishes a lottery with revenues deposited to the General Fund.

The lottery proposal is a constitutional amendment and must have a 2/3 majority vote in each Chamber for passage before being placed on a statewide ballot. While lawmakers indicate they can support a statewide vote, they differ greatly on what type of lottery/gaming they could support. For example, would revenue go specifically to Medicaid or be deposited to the General Fund for any use? Would the bill be limited to a state lottery or allow electronic gaming or expand table gaming?How would the proposal impact the Poarch Band with its current federally authorized gaming operations? The number of special interests working the issues make for high political pressure.

 

Call Item #2:Revenue to GF

The House Wednesday approved H.36 (Clouse) to provide monies through a bond issue pledged from state’s BP settlement. The General Fund borrowed some $600 million from two state funds that must be repaid. One state trust generates interest each year for the GF. The reduction in the trust decreased interest revenue. H.36 (Clouse) would repay $448 million to the debts, free $70 million for Medicaid and provide $191 million to Gulf Coast transportation projects. A Senate committee today approved the bill and it will be eligible for Senate action when the Legislature reconvenes, likely next Tuesday.

 

This isn’t about Education

AASB supports finding new revenue for the General Fund and remains strongly opposed to proposals to divert education revenues. Senate bills propose a “shared revenue fund” to combine the General Fund and Education Trust Fund. These proposals raid the ETF to allow lawmakers to divert revenue to GF operations.

The shared revenue proposals fail to include $3 billion in direct state agency revenues that aren’t counted in state GF appropriations but fund GF operations. No action has been taken, but look for these bills in 2017.

 

State Superintendent Update

Friday, a State Board of Education subcommittee recommended a two-year contract for $198,000 salary plus benefits package to Michael Sentence to serve as state superintendent. If approved by the full board and accepted by Sentance, he would begin Sep. 12.

 

 

Special Session

Lawmakers may meet up to 12 legislative days within 30 calendar days. The legislation is limited to items outlined in the governor’s call, otherwise a 2/3 majority vote is needed by each Chamber.

 

Lottery C/A Timeline

Lawmakers have until Aug. 24 to pass a constitutional amendment for it to be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot. The tight timeline is frustrating many lawmakers who want more time to work out details.

 

BP Settlement

Alabama would receive some $1 billion over the next 18 years from the settlement resulting from the BP oil spill. The legislation authorizes financing those expected payments as a lump sum through a bond issue to enable up-front revenue for lawmakers to apply.

 

2016 First Legislative  Special Session

5 Possible Days Remain

 

Lissa Tucker, AASB Director of

Governmental Relations