Summer vacation is over with. It is time for the members of the Alabama legislature to leave Gulf Shores and Lake Jordan and get back to work. There are pressing matters of concern that they need to direct their attention to that directly affect your pocketbook and the current Coronavirus pandemic and the tools the state is going to need to help us recover economically.
Two state senators from opposite sides of the state, who don’t always see eye to eye, are singing the same song in the same key, it’s time for the Governor to call a special session of the Alabama Legislature.
State Senator Arthur Orr has a bill ready to go in a special session that would greatly expand the ability of businesses in the state of Alabama to reopen their doors and to start serving the public again during this pandemic while protecting them from needless and frivolous lawsuits. This liability shield is extremely important to protect businesses from nuisance lawsuits, which are lawsuits that most likely would fail in court, but are filed in an effort to force the subjects of these nuisance suits into quick settlements to go away. Senator Orr worked extremely hard and did yeoman’s work and bringing the business community and the trial lawyers together to come to an agreement on this legislation, which you would think impossible as these two special interests are usually on opposite sides of the issues.
State Senator Chris Elliott from Baldwin county has also crafted a bill that would exempt the stimulus payments given to every Alabamaian in the federal Coronavirus relief package known as the CARES Act from state income taxes. As it stands right now, if no legislation is passed to exempt these stimulus payments from state income taxes, you will be forced to pay the state of Alabama taxes on that money. I bet you weren’t thinking about that when you received that money from the federal government were you? Senator Elliott believes that this piece of legislation should also be included in any special session called by the Governor this year. This will help struggling families in Alabama to not have to worrybabout how they are going to pay those taxes to the State in a time that they are struggling to survive, literally.
Also, economic development incentives that had previously been in effect have expired. The Alabama Legislature is the only one that can renew those economic incentives. These incentives are vitally important to the economic development recruiters in this state, like Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. Denying Secretary Canfield these tools is like denying Nick Saban a football during a college football game. Both men are extremely good at their jobs, but if they don’t have the proper and basic necessary tools to do their job they can’t be effective. this is probably why you have not heard anything about the state of Alabama being competitive in the competition to lure Tesla from California.
Earlier this year Elon musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors announced he was moving his factory out of California due to the burdensome regulations, the high taxes and the overbearing government of the state of California to a more business friendly state. Alabama is on the list of more business friendly states than California. Alabama also has two mega sites inside its border primed and ready for development, and we know a thing or two about building automobiles. So why isn’t Alabama prominently mentioned in the competition to get Tesla? Could it be because the state’s Nick saban of industrial recruitment just doesn’t have the tools necessary to get the job done?
It is time for Governor Ivey to sit down with the leadership of both parties in both Chambers of the Legislature and agree to a very small, very focused agenda for a special session to address these pressing concerns to ensure that Alabama can move forward in a safe and a business friendly environment from this pandemic so that we can start to rebuild our economy and get our lives back to normal. If need be, because some of the legislators are considered “high-risk” people with pre-existing conditions the leaders in the Legislature and the Governor could even agree on ways that members can do the majority, if not all of their work from home to reduce their exposure to the virus. The state legislatures of Georgia and Tennessee have been able to do it why can’t we?