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Legislative briefs for May 18

BY ANNA BARRETT, Alabama Daily News


Bill that increases retirement income tax exemption passes House

A bill that would increase 401k and IRA tax exemptions to $10,000 and decrease the Education Trust Fund by about $13 million per year passed the House unanimously on Thursday. 

Sponsored by Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, House Bill 117 would increase the amount of exempt taxable income from retirement programs from $6,000 to $10,000. Applying only to those 65 and older, the House bill estimates a loss of $13.2 million to the ETF for 2025 and $13.7 million every year following. 

The bill will now go to a Senate committee. 


Bill protecting law enforcement personal information public record bill passes House

A bill that would allow law enforcement to redact their personal information in state, city and county public records and databases passed the House unanimously on Thursday.

Sponsor Rep. Shane Stringer, R-Citronelle, said House Bill 286 would protect law enforcement from potential danger caused by individuals knowing their personal information, including addresses.

“This is truly a law enforcement bill,” he said. “This is one of the few times we can protect those who protect us.”

Judges, district attorneys, investigators, sheriffs, jailers and law enforcement officers are among the employees that can request the redaction of identifying information from any document prior to disclosure.

Redacted information could include an officer or employee’s home address, phone number, date of birth, or information otherwise used to access financial resources, obtain identification, act as identification, or obtain goods or services.

The bill would not redact the officer or employee’s name from a document.

The bill now goes to the Senate.


House approves 2024 primary runoff delay

A bill approved in the Alabama House on Thursday would move the 2024 primary runoff election from four to six weeks after the primary. 

Sponsor Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, said House Bill 339 is needed because the original runoff date would be two days after Easter Sunday. 

The 2024 primary is March 5. If HB339 is approved in the Senate, the runoff will be April 16.

A committee substitute for Pringle’s bill would have moved all future runoffs to six weeks. The House rejected that proposal and went with the original proposal.

“The probate judges have a problem with doing things in four weeks and wanted to take the six,” Rep. Rhett Marques, R-Enterprise, said. 

It was 2019 when the Legislature moved the runoffs to four weeks. At the time, then Secretary of State John Merrill said two less weeks of election ads and campaign spending would make most people happy.


House passes bill making providing contraband to inmates a Class C felony 

A bill that would further define “contraband” to further limit what can be brought into jails and prisons passed the House with a vote of 98-3 on Thursday. 

Co-sponsored by Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham, and Rep. Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley, Senate Bill 120 would allow detention center policy to determine what is and is not contraband in a detention facility. 

Under existing law, only statute, rule and regulation can determine what is contraband for detention facilities, especially those of juvenile inmates. According to the bill, an individual is guilty of promoting prison contraband in the first degree if an individual provides an inmate with a tool useful for escape, and will be charged with a Class C felony. 

The bill will now go back to the Senate for final passage.



Bill to allow retirees to earn more as SROs, correctional officers nears final passage

State retirees who return to government employment at school resource officers or correctional officers can earn up to $52,000 per year while still drawing retirement pay under a bill waiting for its last vote in the Legislature.

Currently, retirees in the Teachers’ Retirement System and Employees’ Retirement System can earn $37,000 from an employer who participates in RSA without having to suspend their retirement benefits.

Rep. Rex Reynolds’ origin House Bill 41 would have let any state retirees return to work for up to $52,000, but the bill was narrowed in the Senate to only apply to SROs and prison employees. 

“We have a huge need for individuals in those rolls,” Sen. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville, the Senate sponsor of the bill. 

Reynolds has called the legislation a “return-to-work bill” citing staff shortages in many departments.

Givhan said the proposal was scaled back in response to legislative budget leaders’ concerns about a potential impact on RSA. Hiring retirees as contractors who will not be contributing to the retirement system could have long-term effects and RSA needs new, permanent employees paying into them, budget leaders previously told Alabama Daily News.

The bill now goes back to the House to agree with the Senate changes.

Alabama Daily News’ Mary Sell contributed to this report.

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