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Legislative briefs for June 6

Ivey removes cap from overtime tax cut bill

There will not be a cap on the amount of overtime pay Alabama workers can earn in 2024 without paying income tax, at least temporarily. 

As approved by lawmakers last week, the legislation untaxing of overtime pay would have been capped at a total of $25 million and it would have been up to the Alabama Department of Revenue to figure out when that limit was met.

Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday sent the legislation back to the Legislature, removing the cap but shortening the end date on the cut to June 2025. Lawmakers will have to approve its extension. Bill sponsor Rep. Anthony Daniels, R-Huntsville, said he thinks it will be difficult for lawmakers not to extend the cut once it’s been in place for 18 months. Meanwhile, he said the state will have time to gather data on its impact.

Sen. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville, carried the bill in the Senate.

“Hopefully the federal government will take note and Alabama will be a trendsetter here,” Givhan said on the Senate floor just before the Senate agreed with the change. The House also concurred.


Legislative gives final approval to fentanyl exposure bill

The Alabama Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a bill that imposes additional criminal charges for those who “knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally” expose first responders to fentanyl resulting in either injury or death.

Any physical injury to a first responder from fentanyl contact would result in a Class C felony, or a Class B felony for a “serious physical injury.” Fentanyl exposure that results in the death of a first responder would impose a Class A felony charge.

House Bill 230 was sponsored by Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne, who also successfully sponsored a bill to increase penalties for trafficking fentanyl.


Bill allowing police to arrest parolee without warrant approved by legislature

A Senate bill that would allow law enforcement officers to arrest a parolee without a warrant under certain circumstances was concurred in the House along party lines.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Josephine, would allow for a law enforcement officer to arrest a parolee without a warrant, granted the parolee violated the conditions of their parole in the presence of the officer. Existing law generally requires law enforcement officers to have a warrant before arresting an individual based solely on normally legal activity that violates parole conditions.

The House concurred with the Senate bill Tuesday with a vote of 80-17, with six abstaining from the vote. The bill now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk for final approval.


Distracted driving bill goes to Ivey

A bill that would make holding a telecommunications device while driving illegal passed in both chambers of the State Legislature on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, Senate Bill 301 would still allow a telecommunications device to be mounted in the vehicle, but would not allow the driver to use their hands to operate the device. Hands-free devices, like earpieces or other voice-activated devices, would still be permitted under the bill, if  signed into law. 

A House amendment presented by Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne, would not allow the usage of a telecommunications device to be a primary offense, meaning people can’t be pulled over for phone use alone.

“A person operating a vehicle in a distracted manner is in violation of this section,” he said.

Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, had a similar bill earlier this session that did not pass. The Senate bill passed the House with a vote of 57-37, and the Senate concurred with the amendment. The bill now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature.


Legislature passes Ethics Commission requirements

The House concurred on Tuesday with a Senate bill that would require the Alabama Ethics Commission to disclose exonerating evidence to individuals being investigated by the commission.

An appointed body created by the Alabama Legislature, the Ethics Commission is tasked with investigating corruption allegations against public officials. In 2022, however, the commission said it was not required to disclose evidence it discovers that could potentially exonerate a government official under investigation.

Sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, the bill was largely written in response to the Ethics Commission’s comments, and was concurred in the House in a unanimous vote. The bill now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk for final approval.


Bill increasing penalties for fleeing law enforcement approved by Legislature

A Senate bill that would increase penalties for those who flee from law enforcement saw concurrence Tuesday by the House in a vote mostly along party lines.

Sponsored by Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, the bill would increase the criminal penalty of fleeing from law enforcement from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C felony if the individual commits a separate felony while fleeing, or the flee attempt crosses into a neighboring state.

The bill saw little discussion on the House floor, and was concurred with a vote of 90-8. The bill now goes to Ivey.

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