It was not that long ago that the Alabama Legislature was in Montgomery for the last of two special sessions in order to craft a workable budget and keep the state open for business. They begin this week for an expected four-month regular session. Very little business occurs during the first week of the session, but legislators can introduce bills and a few pre-filed bills can be heard in committee. Gov. Robert Bentley presented his State of the State Address and gave Alabamians a view into what his priorities are for the session. Among the most notable are a $700 – $800 million bond issue to completely overhaul the state’s prison system, free two-year college for children of low-income families, pay raises for public employees and teachers, and expanded broadband internet for rural areas of the state. The issue with a lot of these ideas, and several other ones, is the funding, and the governor proposes transferring $180 million from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund in order to pay for the initiatives.
As for credit unions, no dangerous legislation has been introduced during the first week, and the League expects several positive pieces of legislation to come in next few meeting days. The first bill will be another update to the State Credit Union Act. The League’s advocacy team has been working with the Alabama Credit Union Administration over the past few months to come together with a piece of legislation to address some of the needs of credit unions identified by the State Act Work Group and the needs of the administration. A draft of that legislation is in hand and the League hopes to have it introduced next week. It is also expected that a piece of legislation requiring the titling of boats and other vessels will be introduced next week. As lien holders, this much needed change in Alabama law is a welcome sight.