I had two meetings at 8 AM, one with the Tennessee Valley Caucus, on the first floor, and one with Commerce Transportation and Utilities (CTU) on the 6th floor. I popped into the TVA meeting at 8 AM to let them know I’d be right back, and headed to the 6th floor for CTU. We had three bills on the agenda and all three were eventually passed.
I enthusiastically supported SB315 (Sen Dial) which repeals the prohibition on rebates or discounts provided by re-sellers of motor fuel. To be honest, this was not on my radar until last summer when a couple of constituents brought it to my attention and I’m glad to see that it has support. I returned to the 1st floor TVA meeting, catching the end of our discussion to establish a schedule of meetings for 2012…and to get a bite for breakfast.
I had two meetings at 9 AM; somewhat easier this time as they were on the 6th and 7th floors. The Banking and Insurance (B&I) Committee meeting had a total of 8 bills on the agenda and one of my bills was on the agenda in the Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability (FRA) Committee; SB263 which closes loopholes with respect to emergency contracts let by the state. I was third on the agenda so I was able to attend the beginning of the B&I Committee meeting on the 7th floor, depart in time to successfully move my bill in FRA on the 6th floor, and get back to the 7th floor.
We moved a total of 6 bills out of B&I, two were carried over. Several of these bills had to do with homeowners insurance, in particular, creating a catastrophe savings account, operating similar to a health savings account. Taxpayers will be able to claim a deduction against their state income tax for deposits made into a catastrophe savings account. The intent is to cover insurance deductibles and other uninsured portions of risk of loss for residential property from a catastrophic event such as a windstorm. This is a good bill and I thank the bill sponsor, Sen Brooks for bringing it forward.
The Senate went back into session at 10 AM. We were able to move several bills through the body and I'm impressed that, for the most part, we are all playing nice with each other in the sand box. SB73, a bill I co-sponsored with Sen Ward regarding publication of legal notices passed. This bill addresses Public Notices printed in newspapers across the state and allows for these notices to be published online and – very important – pegs the rates charged to local municipalities to the lowest rate charged to businesses. This bill is a collaborative effort between me, Sen Ward and the Alabama Press Association. This has the potential to save local municipalities several thousand dollars annually.
Another bill that came up, SB8 (Sen Dial) was passed out of the Senate; a rare time when I was on the other side of vote. I opposed this bill as it removed the prohibition of small cities and police departments along interstates from enforcing speed limits in Alabama. This is a touchy subject to some; I’ll just say that I’m against speed traps.
The Senate adjourned a little after 2 PM and I wrapped up loose ends, packed up my car and headed north. The drive home was extended by about 45 minutes due to the north bound lane closure and detour for road repair at the sink-hole. Hopefully this will be fixed in a couple of weeks.
I arrived back in North Alabama about 6 PM and decided to stop in and visit with the newly formed Limestone Republican Women at their monthly meetings. It was a great finish to a busy week visiting with everyone and sharing stories of what is happening in Montgomery!
Final note – I’m tracking several bills moving through committees in the Senate…and in the House (more on those next week). I look forward to supporting SB143, a bill reinstating the $5,000 salary supplement to teachers that complete the process to become certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. This bill was voted out of the Finance and Taxation Education committee on Thursday. This was a commitment made by the state to teachers entering the program and the state needs to follow through with our end of the agreement on those that have completed the program.