2013 Legislative Wrap Up







Prepared by SubAla and Miller Development Group




Rough and Tumble Session Produces Mixed bag for Associations

For SubAla - Definitely More Good Than Bad


The 2013 legislative session was dubbed by news accounts and veterans at the state house as one of the most rough and tumble in many years.  Controversy over the School Accountability Act, Common Core and other educational issues coupled with a hotly contested gun bill, Medicaid reform and other highly controversial measures resulted in many of the 1,176 bills introduced getting little consideration. 


For SubAla members several proposals, that both passed and died could have a real bottom line impact.   


Highlights included no new taxes or regulations on the industry, the re-instatement of the construction exemption certificate for public works, the passage of the historic preservation tax credit and the ability of SubAla to get unanimous approval of the "license prior to bid" legislation from both a House and Senate committee when there was strong visible and viable opposition to the bill. 


A recap of those proposals and others monitored by the association are listed below:  



Construction Sales and Use Tax Exemption - HB419 by Rep. DeMarco

This bill will have a tremendous positive impact on members when doing work with tax exempt entities.  While it was introduced by ABC, SubAla strongly supported the effort through every step of the legislative process.  Some longtime legislative friends of lobbyists Deborah Miller and SubAla COO David Campbell were instrumental in pushing the bill over the goal line.  Luckily, the bill had no opposition.  Click  here to see the entire bill.



Leed Bill Defeated - SB326 by Sen. Keahey and HB457 by Rep Jones

SubAla joined the efforts of various groups to oppose the controversial LEED bill.  The bill threatened to keep federally funded projects from coming to Alabama due to prohibiting state funded projects under the LEED Rating System.



Historic Preservation Tax Credit - HB140 by Rep. Gaston

This bill was heavily supported by SubAla because of the construction projects that will result from the development and rehabilitation of historic districts throughout Alabama.  Further changes to the bill to make it more attractive to developers are still needed and SubAla will work to get those provisions included in upcoming sessions. Click here to see the entire bill. 



License Prior to Bid - SB389 by Sen. Dunn and HB538 by Rep. Butler - Unanimous In Both Committees With Stiff Opposition

As witnessed by the other bills with opposition that failed to get out of committee, this legislation surprised both SubAla members and those in the construction industry when it was well received by two different committees by unanimous votes.


If opposition was not enough with public hearings called in both chambers by AGC and the General Contracting Licensure Board, in comes Manufacture Alabama and Alabama Power Co.  Legislative veterans surmised that this bill was dead on arrival.  SubAla surprised many long time lobbyists and industry groups, through the hard work of the bill sponsors and the association, to ensure that the hearings were a success and the bills came up for a vote. 


SubAla worked with Manufacture Alabama and others to craft amendments.  This working relationship resulted in Manufacture Alabama asking SubAla to be a part of several projects in the future that could benefit SubAla members. 


A special thanks goes to those who made phone calls, sent e-mails, and made the trip to Montgomery to testify before the committees.  We would also like to thank ABC for advocating for the bill.  An added bonus was members from ABC who testified and talked with legislators one on one to explain their support and the significance of the bill. 


The bill provided new statutory protection to subcontractors and general contractors and merely required subcontractors to be licensed prior to the time a project is bid if the cost of their work exceeds $50,000.


While the bill did not pass, SubAla is committed to champion this legislation during the next legislation session. 


* Monitored Legislation *


Construction Related Legislation



Engineer Liability - Enrolled HB 335 by Rep. Jamie Ison provides liability protection for professional engineers.  Contracted city engineers will no longer have liability leaving the responsibility on the city or county government.  It is pending the governor's signature.



CMA @ Risk- SB289 by Sen. Blackwell provided public owners alternative means for procuring design and construction services outside of the traditional design-bid-build method.  It allowed for public work contracts by construction managers at risk and design build project delivery options as additional options.  The bill also specified that a construction manager at risk or a design-builder assumes the risk for construction, rehabilitation, alteration, or repair of a public works project at the contracted price and would provide for the selection of all contractors and sub-contractors necessary to complete the job.


Prompt Pay bill -SB237 by Sen. Roberts required a prompt payment on government construction projects.  The bill died without being considered in the house. Click here to read the bill.


Competitive Bid - SB 234 by Sen. Slade Blackwell would have increased the local bid amount to be raised from 3 to 5 percent.


Plumber and Pipefitter Certification - HB265 by Rep. Jack Williams would have provided for further requirements of these professionals to maintain certification and have further training.  It also helped to define fees, disciplinary action and renewals.


Davis - Bacon Wage Act - HB107 by Rep Jack Williams required contractors and subcontractors performing work on federally funded public construction contracts to pay all laborers and mechanics the wage rates determined by the Secretary of Labor.  The bill would have prohibited the state or any political subdivision from using the Davis-Bacon wage provision in contracts.


Daycare Sprinkler Systems -HB241 by Rep. Mark Tuggle would have allowed homes approved for day and night time child care for up to 6 children to operate without a sprinkler system.


Statute of Repose - SB 181 by Cam Ward would have required a plaintiff in any legal action against a licensed professional engineer, licensed professional land surveyor, registered architect, licensed professional geologist, or a registered landscape architect to file a certificate of merit affidavit of a third-party engineer, land surveyor, architect, licensed professional geologist, or landscape architect which would provide an opinion of at least one negligent act, error, or omission of the defendant.


Green Building Standards - SB326 by Sen. Keahey stated that green building standards used would have to comply with certain forest certification standards for wood consistent with standards used in the forest industry.



Unemployment and Worker's Compensation Related Legislation



Late or Inadequate - SB201 by Sen. Paul Bussman - This bill could potentially charge employers who fail to respond to unemployment claims promptly or adequately that result in overpayment by the state.  If employers fail to respond in a timely fashion two or more times they could see a decline in their unemployment compensation account.



SubAla worked alongside other groups to improve workers compensation in the State of Alabama.  The bills did not pass, but they are listed below


Workers Comp Reform - SB453 by Sen. Del Marsh was indefinitely postponed before it could go anywhere due to its late introduction during the session and opposition from some major groups involved. SubAla strongly supports workers' compensation reform that will benefit employers.


Worker's Comp - HB28 by Rep. Paul DeMarco would have allowed employers to not payout worker's compensation benefits to employees who have been found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of their accident or injury.


Doubling Worker's Comp Burial Expense - HB461 by Rep. Rod Scott would have increased the burial expense for worker's comp by $3,500.  If an employee dies as a result of an employment-related accident or occupational disease the new bill would have allowed up to $6,500.  Currently, it is $3,000 with the average cost of funeral in Alabama being $9,000. The bill was not considered by the Senate on the last day.


Jobless Legislation



Jobless Benefits Increase - HB539 by Rep. Peeblin Warren which would have increased the maximum weekly jobless benefit in Alabama by $20 in 2014 was never considered by the Senate.  The Alabama Department of Labor estimated the increase would have resulted in a $3.60 increase in unemployment taxes paid by certain employers.


Business Related



Red Tape Reduction Act #13-88

The bill requires agencies to fulfill license requests within 28 calendar days or notify the applicant as to why the license or permit was rejected. It also makes the state agency file an economic impact statement with the Committee on Administrative Regulations if a complaint is received that suggests that the regulation may negatively impact the business.  


Finally, it requires all existing rules and regulations be reviewed every five years. Agencies will be required to inform via their website on anything related to proposed and existing regulation reviews. This new law will be a tremendous help to industry


Gun Bill Passes on Final Day Act #13-283

The controversial gun bill passed on the final day and Gov. Bentley signed it two days later.  To read an article on the bill, you can click  here.  To read the bill, click here.


Career Centers Permanently Funded Act #13-208 was signed by the governor on May 10th and permanently extends the employer assessment of .06 percent of wages subject to contributions under the state Unemployment Compensation Program.  The funds will be deposited into the Employment Security Enhancement Fund.  This is what funds the state's career centers.  Previously it was subject to renewal every couple of years.


Campaign Contributions Passes - Enrolled SB445 by Rep Taylor takes away the cap that corporations had when making campaign donations and has been signed by the Governor.  The bill essentially treats a corporation as a person with regard to donations.  To read an article on the bill, click here.



Business Privilege Tax Relief for Dormant Entities - HB276  by Rep. Jamie Ison failed because the Senate never considered the legislation.  The bill would have forgiven business privilege tax obligations for any dormant business, even if the business failed to dissolve or withdraw its qualification to do business.


LLC Reform - SB342 by Sen. Smitherman was not considered by the House despite the fact it was on the calendar on the final day.  The bill would have replaced the current limited liability law.  It focused on the contractual nature of LLC's and had few mandatory features.  The bill did acknowledge that implied contractual covenant of good faith and fair dealing could not be modified, also that LLC's could be used for operations other than a business


Right to Work Constitutional Amendment SB41 Sen. Gerald Dial would have made the state policy of "a right to work state" an amendment to the Alabama constitution, which would have made it more difficult to take out the policy in the future.


Tax Simplification - This legislation would have shifted appropriation, personnel, equipment and tax appeal functions of the Administrative Law Division of the Revenue Department to a newly formed Alabama Tax Appeals Commission.  The move would have brought Alabama up to par with a majority of states who have independent tax appeal processes for individuals and businesses.  Businesses that span a multitude of jurisdictions would have only used one process to appeal tax assessments rather than using a different process for every county and city involved.  The bill passed last year but was vetoed by the governor.  This year all of his previous objections to the bill had been resolved and he was prepared to sign the bill, but the legislature failed to pass it.


Election for House District 97 - Adline Clark, a Mobile Housing Board Executive and book store owner, beat out two independent candidates for the vacant seat on May 22.  The seat was vacated upon the death of Rep. Yvonne Kennedy.  Clark garnered over 90% of the vote.  She beat out Burton LeFlore, who runs a real estate company in Mobile, and David Blunt, a Mobile builder.











House:   334-242-7600   Senate: 334-242-7800