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Last days of session, part two

The prevailing narrative most of this session has been the lack of legislative drama.

I’ve contributed to that in this space, and most recently in my column on what a great budget year it has been in Alabama (thx Sand Mountain Reporter for publishing).

However, drama is starting to build around some “must-pass” legislation in these final days.

“Must pass bills”

  • That term gets thrown around a lot, but it generally refers to legislation that, if not acted upon, would cause a significant problem for state government and likely require a special session to fix.
  • Three bills fit that description at the moment: House Bills 321 & 322, which are Medicaid provider taxes for nursing homes and hospitals, respectively. If they don’t pass, Alabama’s Medicaid system will face a major shortfall and miss out on federal match money.
  • The third is legislation reauthorizing the State Pilotage Commission, without which the State Port Authority can’t really operate.
  • Sen. Trip Pittman wants to use this reauthorization process as an opportunity to reform the pilotage commission by changing its makeup.
  • He’s insisting that his reform language be part of any reauthorization bill, and he’s pretty serious about it.

Holding all the cards

  • Mr. Pittman, it so happens, chairs the Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee, where the other two “must pass” bills are also awaiting action. 
  • Pittman appears to have the leverage to get what he wants on the State Pilotage Commission, especially with everyone wanting to go ahead and adjourn this week.
  • So, it looks like we could have some drama after all.

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