It is 7:30 PM and I’ve just returned from a nice dinner with Sydney at Sinclair’s – if you ever visit Montgomery, the Banana’s Sinclair is highly recommended for desert!
Prior to that we did a 2 mile jog around the neighborhood; I’m planning (weather permitting) to run the Grissom ROTC 5K in Huntsville on Saturday. This was a nice tune-up/maintenance jog for that.
I left the State House at 5 PM this afternoon, having spent the afternoon listening to the budget hearings and attending a couple of meetings to coordinate moving bills in the House and Senate.
At 11:30 I chaired the Veteran’s and Military Affairs Committee meeting. We had three bills on the agenda and successfully moved all three out of committee. Prior to that meeting I attended the Small Business Committee meeting where we moved three bills as well.
At 10:30 this morning I attended the Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee meeting. We had several bills on the agenda – the most controversial of which, SB142 by Sen Orr, is a constitutional amendment banning occupational taxes statewide. I oppose occupational taxes and, after the hour long public hearing and debate, did not sway from that position. Madison and Limestone Counties both have local legislation that prevents occupational taxes from being levied in these counties. Several other counties have a local ban in place as well. The bill would allow voters to decide on the November ballot if we are to ban occupational taxes statewide. This bill grandfathers any county that currently has an occupational tax in place. Most readers know that the occupational tax has been an issue in Jefferson County. A member of the Jefferson County delegation championed an amendment to exclude Jefferson County from the current bill. I voted against the exclusion but the amendment passed in a 6-4 vote with one abstention.
A quick comment on abstaining from a vote; the day may come where I may find myself in direct personal conflict of interest on a bill – although that is hard for me to imagine as I work very hard to ensure my personal life and business are “fire-walled” from anything to do with the State of Alabama – but, that is the only reason I can think of where I would ever abstain from a vote. I strongly believe the people of District 2 sent me to Montgomery to vote “yes or no” - to abstain on a vote is to vote “maybe”.
Back to the occupational tax bill – the bill advanced out of committee in an 8 – 3 final vote and will now move to the Senate floor for debate.
At 9:00 this morning I pitched a bill in the Business and Labor committee, SB222. This bill is commonly known as the “Reg Flex” bill and requires state departments that are considering new regulations to conduct a small business impact study prior to implementing the policy change. This is a pro-small business bill as larger business may be able to absorb the cost/impact of a new regulation while smaller business may see a direct impact on their margins. This helps ensure the “little guy’s” voice is heard in the process.
I arrived at the State House at 7:30 this morning. I was able to catch up on several emails and started my first committee meeting 8:30 with an Education Policy meeting. We worked on two bills. One, a bill mandating the age of enrollment for children to attend school was carried over. This bill will be contentious – I supported it in 2011 as it was co-supported by the AEA (Alabama Educators Association) and AASB (Alabama Association of School Boards) – unfortunately I’ve rarely seen these two organizations on the same side of an issue and because they were both supportive, I supported it. However, I’ve now heard from numerous constituents concerning this bill and realize it is better left as a parent’s choice. Put another way, nothing prevents a parent from enrolling a child at age 6 but the mandatory age is 7. I fail to see the need to regulate beyond what is currently law.
I would like to commend the committee chair, Sen Brewbaker, for carrying this bill over at the call of the chair. This bill is widely supported by the democrat caucus and several democrat members of the committee were not present today as they were attending a funeral for a colleague’s mother. My prayers are with Sen Bedford, his family and community as they mourn the loss of his mother.
Semper Fi - Bill