Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Senator Rodger Smitherman withdraws Senate Bill 264

President Pro Tem Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham today issued a press release stating that he would pursue to withdraw Senate Bill 264. This bill would recognize the contributions of Dr. Joe L. Reed to Alabama State University; it would rename the ASU Academic and Physical Education complex the Joe L. Reed Acadome.

This bill has caused quite a stir because the Alabama State University acadome previously held the name of the Dr. Joe L. Reed but in 2008 the ASU Board of Trustees voted to remove Dr. Reed's name due to negative publicity cast upon the University by Dr. Reed along with a number of other issues.

Senator Smitherman released the following press release:

When I took the oath of leadership as the president pro tem of the Senate, I pledged to help bring this body together in a new spirit of cooperation. I am deeply committed to the goal of making our Senate more responsive to the needs of our citizens and more productive. I did not realize when I offered Senate Bill 264 that it had the potential to be as divisive as it apparently is. Regardless of the merits of this bill, I believe it is in the best interested of the Senate, and the common good we must pursue, to withdraw Senate Bill 264 from consideration.

Rodger M. Smitherman
President Pro Tem

Day 5 Brings About Discussions of Gambling in the Alabama Senate

The Alabama Senate convened at 2:00 pm CST this afternoon. No more than five minutes upon beginning the fifth day of the 2009 Alabama Legislative Session Senator Bobby Singleton's (D) Senate Bill 135 pertaining to the Greene County Bingo Act, which provides bingo for education and charitable purposes, brought about much debate.

When SB135 was brought up for a budget isolation resolution (BIR) Senator Hank Erwin (R) of Calera immediately appeared at the podium to show his disgust for this bill arising so early in the Session. Senator Erwin expressed that this bill should not receive a BIR, rather the Senate's main purpose should be to focus on the General Fund (budget) and Education Trust Fund. Senator French took to the microphone asking for a vote on the BIR stating that discussions were underway and that both sides would like to continue with a friendly session and accomplish much before stalling the Senate over controversial bills such as gambling and alcohol.

SB135 did not receive its BIR with a vote of 14 yeas, 10 nays, and 1 abstention. Senator Singleton said he would bring this bill back up for a BIR on Thursday, 6th legislative day. Senator Del Marsh (R) said he is working with Senator Singleton, the Governor's office, and other Senator republicans to help Senator Singleton receive his BIR on SB135 Thursday.

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide incentives to the Entertainment Industry

The Alabama House of Representatives convened this afternoon at 1:00 pm CST. The first bill for discussion was House Bill 69 introduced by Representative Lindsey relating to the development in Alabama of the entertainment industry. This bill targeted to attract investment for qualified productions and qualified production companies; to help encourage increased employment opportunities within the state for the entertainment industry and increased global competition with other states in fully developing economic development options in Alabama within the industry

HB69 would provide rebates for qualified production projects and exemptions for sales, use, and lodging taxes for production companies working in Alabama. Additionally it authorizes a rebate (income tax credit) equal to 25% of production expenditure (excluding payroll and benefits paid to Alabama residents) plus a 35% rebate of all payrolls, including benefits paid to Alabama residents working on the production.

With much praise to the sponsors and excitement for the bill, HB69 was voted favorably out of the House with a vote of 102 yeas and 0 nays.