The next committee meeting was Commerce, Transportation and Utilities at 9:00 where we worked through a total of 5 bills; the most significant of which deals with road builder liability. After a public hearing this bill was moved to a sub-committee for further work. What is important to note here is this bill has failed to gain traction in years past...until today. In short, the road builders carry significant insurance to off-set frivolous lawsuits. In the end, this makes our roads cost more. I look to this as a means of tort reform but, we must balance the public's need for some degree of recourse should a road be built poorly. I look forward to working with the various parties on this bill and am confident we can secure a balanced outcome.
After a brief meeting with another group on some pending legislation with financial institutions, I attended the General Fund Committee meeting at 10:30. We worked through 7 bills in this committee. The final committee meeting of the day was to pitch another bill I've co-sponsored with Senator Cam Ward, SB73 which addresses Public Notices printed in newspapers across the state. This bill allows for these notices to be published online and pegs the rates charged to local municipalities to the lowest rate charged to businesses. This bill is a collaboartive effort between me, Sen Ward and the Alabama Press Association. I'm thankful that we've come to this point as it has the potential to save local municipalities several thousand dollars annually.
I spent the remainder of the day in budget hearings. We received the Governor's budget request earlier today....I'm still digesting and will provide comments after I've reviewed over the weekend. I've only received a printed copy but will post a "soft copy" for readers once received.
I will chair the Joint Legislative Contract Review meeting this morning at 8:30, you can review the agenda here. The committee's goal of keeping Alabama dollars in Alabama is paying off. Of the 61 contracts we'll review only 6 are being directed to out-of-state companies. I'm nearing completion of a report for Governor Bentley on the second half of 2011, detailing the amount of Alabama funding that went to out-of-state companies; preliminary numbers look very good.
I plan to work on some legislative redistricting, an issue we plan to tackle sometime this year, before the Senate goes back into session at 1:00. I'm happy to report that both SB60 and SB73 are on the calendar; hopefully we can move them out of the Senate today. I'll close out the day in a one on one meeting with the new AEA Executive Secretary, Dr. Henry Mabry before heading back to Madison.
And from the "In Case You Missed It" department...this story from Nov 2011 where an economic development expert predicts utter doom and gloom for Alabama economic development, contrasts nicely with Monday's announcement that a copper plant from China will spend $100M and employ between 300 and 500 people. Let's not overlook the fact that this company is from China...think about it, as much US debt that China holds and they are spending capital in Alabama! Yup, that darn immigration law is killing economic development.