City honors World Champion Special Olympian

Mayor Wess Etheredge presents B.J. Gray with a certificate and city coin and offers congratulations for his remarkable achievement at the World Special Olympics.

 

The Daleville Chamber of Commerce and the City of Daleville Tuesday honored Special Olympics World Champion B.J. Gray.

The Chamber and city honored B.J. for his remarkable achievement as part of the Dothan Special Olympics volleyball team,  which represented the state and won the Gold Medal in the National Special Olympics Games in Nebraska and went on to go undefeated and bring home the Gold in the World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, July 3, 2011.

Congratulations to B.J. and his teammates. Daleville is proud of you!

 

 

 

Spartans, Chamber treat new commander’s wife to lunch

Christina Nicholson, wife of the new commander of the 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment, was treated to a welcoming luncheon at The Castle Cafe July 5.

Sgt. Maj. Micheal Sutterfield introduces Christina Nicholson at July 5 welcoming luncheon.

Daleville’s partnership unit sponsored the luncheon to show their appreciation for Mrs. Nicholson and the vital role that she will play as she shares duties as the 1-223rd command team with her husband, Lt.  Col. Demetrios Nicholson.

Nicholson, a  took command of the 223rd June 28. He and his wife said they understand the close relationship a between the 223rd and Daleville which had been fostered so well by his predecessor, Lt. Col. Joseph Matthew,  and they hope to strengthen even more the strong bond between the military and civilian communities.

Mrs. Nicholson, who hails from Blue Springs, Mo., said she loves the Daleville area already and will look forward to participating in local events and activities. She and Nicholson have four children, 11-year-old Faith Marie, 8-year-old Caden and 7-year-old twins Tate and Reid.

Sgt. Maj. Micheal Sutterfield, members of the Spartans unit and wives, and Chamber representatives Viki Davis, Shay Collins, Stacy Rand,  Karen Johnson and Kay Kirkland welcomes Mrs. Nicholson and presented her with several welcoming gifts.

 

 

 

Farewell to Lt. Col. Joseph Matthew; welcome to Lt. Col. Demetrios Nicholson

Lt. Col. Joseph Matthew turned over command of the 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment Tuesday to Lt. Col. Demetrios Nicholson.

Matthew departs from the 1-223rd after commanding the Spartans for two years, and is retiring from the U.S. Army, ending 25 years of military service to his country.

Chamber President Steve McKinnon, Director Kay Kirkland and Board members thank Matthew for his active and enthusiastic support of Chamber activities during the past two years and for his leadership in many projects.  The 1-223rd is Daleville’s partnership unit and has been a pleasure to work with through the years. Col. Matthew’s leadership and the cooperation and assistance of others such as Sgt. Maj. Micheal Sutterfield, Capt. Tom Kruse and Sgt. Cooper, have only served to strengthen the bond that the city shares with the unit.

We wish Lt. Col. Matthew the best of good fortune as he moves to Cleveland, Ohio, gets married to his lovely fiancee Kristin Mahle and starts a new life. We will always remember his dedication to Daleville

The Chamber also welcomes Lt. Col. Nicholson, who comes to Fort Rucker from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he was an instructor at the Center for Tactics, Command and General Staff College. Nicholson, who entered the Army in 1992, has a beautiful wife, Christina, and four children.

We look forward to working with Lt. Col. and Mrs. Nicholson and making them an integral part of our daily life in Daleville. We hope they feel at home and we are anticipating the creation of a great relationship between them and the community.

Below are photos from the Change of Command Ceremony on Howze Field Tuesday.

 

Community mourns former Mayor Gene Hughes

Daleville lost a longtime leader June 8 when former Mayor Gene Hughes passed away at the age of 78.

Gene Hughes, Daleville mayor, 1976-1996

Hughes, who served as a city councilman from 1972 to 1976, was first elected mayor in 1976 and served five terms, ending in 1996. He led the city during some of its most notable milestones, including the five-laning of Daleville Avenue, construction of the first

Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union headquarters here and the building of streets and  thriving neighborhoods throughout the city.

He was also a leading business pioneer of Daleville, having once operated a clothing store and later developing many of the housing sub-divisions and townhouse complexes in the city.

His longtime businesses, Daleville Real Estate and Daleville Inn and Apartments are still in operation in the city.

His legacy will live on in Daleville, but his presence here will be greatly missed.

City partners with Chamber to create Dog Park, first of its kind in local civilian community

The Daleville City Council voted recently to approve a proposal presented by Chamber President Steve McKinnon and Vice President of Public Relations Viki Davis that would create the first Dog Park in the Wiregrass.

The park, designed to be a safe environment where well-behaved dogs can exercise and socialize off-leash, would be located on a vacant city lot on old Highway 134 near the Daleville Schools Transportation Center. McKinnon and Davis said the park would not only benefit dogs and  dog owners but would generate interest and revenue for the city.

City leaders agreed that the Chamber could use the property on old Highway 134 for the park and would assist with maintenance. Chamber members are planning fund-raisers and seeking sponsorships to help purchase fencing and other items needed to establish the park. To learn more about the park or to become a sponsor, call the Chamber at 598-6331.

The next Dog Park Committee meeting will be July 11 at 3:30 p.m.

 

Farmer’s Market a success! See you there this week.

Cooks and lovers of fresh home-grown vegetables and fruits are enjoying the new Daleville Farmers Market each Thursday  at the intersection of Highway 134 and Daleville Avenue in the lot adjacent to MaFoosky’s Deli.

 

The market features good, high-quality produce brought by certified growers who have a large variety of items available, including tomatoes, watermelons, squash, cucumbers, peas, plums, peaches, beans, etc. Arts and crafts and food items will also be available from time to time.

The market is open each Thursday in June and July from 2: 30 to 5:30 p.m.

 

1-223rd commander makes last flight before retirement

Lt. Col. Joseph Matthew, commander of the 1st Battalion 223rd Aviation Regiment at Cairns Field, arrived at his own retirement party May 13 in style – U.S. Army aviation style that is.

For his final flight before retirement in June, Matthew took the opportunity to fly one of the retiring Flatiron UH-1 Hueys into Knox Field, where he was greeted by a large crowd of friends, family members and fellow soldiers. Matthew was treated not only to an informal dinner and presented with gifts in appreciation for his service, but was treated to the traditional “hosing down” by co-workers after he landed the Huey in front of the hangar where the party took place.

Lt. Col. Joseph Matthew is escorted by Sgt. Maj. Mike Sutterfield, left, and a mighty 1-223rd Spartan after flying into Knox Field for his retirement party May 13.

Daleville Chamber Vice President Myong Alt and Chamber members Ingrid and Jerry Strange, along with Director Kay Kirkland were among those attending and wishing Matthew well. On behalf of the Chamber and the City of Daleville, Alt presented Matthew with a gift certificate and flowers in appreciation for his devotion to Chamber activities and civic service during the two years that he has served as commander of Daleville’s partnership unit.

Chamber and City leaders said Matthew has been an outstanding addition to the U.S. Army and to Daleville’s leadership team and will be missed.

Car sale makes for exciting weekend in Daleville!

What an exciting weekend in Daleville!

The Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union hosted for the 27th year its annual Credit Union Car Sale May 6-7.  People flocked  in from all over Southeast Alabama to see the biggest variety and selection of new and used vehicles in one place that you could ever imagine.

The car sale featured all kinds of boats and recreational vehicles and outdoor equipment that you can check out.

Dealerships included Boyd’s Marine, Enterprise Chevrolet, Enterprise Toyota, Gilland GMC,  Marlin Ingram RV, Mitchell Hyundai, Mitchell Mazda Lincoln Mercury, Mitchell Nissan, Tim Whitehead Dodge Jeep and others.

98th Army Band delights crowd at annual appreciation event

The 98th Army Silver Wings Band offered up an extra treat at the annual Fort Rucker Appreciation Softball Game April 30, and the crowd gathered on the grassy field next to Culpepper Park ate it up.

The band graciously performed at 6 p.m. Saturday to highlight a day of bonding between the Daleville community and its Fort Rucker friends, particularly the 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment Spartans, the city’s partnership unit.

The day began with the annual softball game, and though the Spartans came out swinging and took at 6-0 lead early in the game, the Senior Warhawks made a dramatic comeback to take the win 15-6 and retain the championship trophy.

After a hot do g and hamburger lunch prepared by Mayor Wess Etheredge, his wife Terri, Chamber Board President Steve McKinnon and Senior Vice President John McLean, the Army Band played to an audience that included Maj. Gen.  Anthony Crutchfield, Fort Rucker’s commanding general.

The band played patriotic favorites and a variety of other music, including country hits, modern soul and classic jazz. The crowd relaxing on blankets and in lawn chairs on a beautiful and mild early evening was delighted by the variety, the talent and the service of the fine 98th Army Band.

In fact, the Chamber is hopeful that the band’s performance will be an annual treat at the Fort Rucker Appreciation Softball Game.

The annual softball game IS Daleville’s primary appreciation event for Fort Rucker, so the city and the Chamber always encourage and appreciate support for the activities.

The Chamber especially thanks event sponsors: Aero Real Estate, The Diner, Goolsby Plumbing & Electrical,  Professional Helicopter Pilots Association, Ray’s Auto Glass and Food Giant.

 

 

 

BCA Capital Briefing: Governor signs BCA-Backed bill giving tax deduction

 

 

Nameplate
A Partnership Publication     Issue 7  

April 22, 2011

Capital Briefing is produced in cooperation with the BCA/CCAA Partnership. Distributed each week when the Alabama Legislature is in session, it is designed to serve as an informational resource addressing timely legislative issues and activities of particular concern to Alabama’s business community and your chamber members.
_______________________________________________________________

Governor signs BCA-backed bill giving tax deduction to small business owners  

 

Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law Thursday HB 61 by Rep. April Weaver, R-Brierfield, a tax deduction bill affecting small businesses that provide health insurance for their employees. On hand for the bill-signing were BCA board members Greg Powell, president of Fi-plan Partners; Rick Roden, president of the Greater Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and chairman of BCA’s Small Business Committee; Ron Perkins of Doozer Software and co-chair of the Small Business Committee; and Ron Box of Joe Money Machinery Company, co-chairman of BCA’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee.

 

The new law allows employers and employees to deduct an additional 50 percent of the amount expended for health insurance premiums. Qualifying employers are those with less than 25 employees; qualifying employees are those whose annual wages do not exceed $50,000. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper.

smallbizbillsigning
Joining Gov. Bentley for the bill-signing Thursday: BCA President and CEO William Canary; BCA Small Business Committee co-chair Ron Box; Sen. Greg Reed; Rep. April Weaver;  BCA Small Business Committee Chair Ron Perkins; former committee chair Rick Roden; and BCA Senior VP Anita Archie

The measure now increases the 150 percent deduction, approved during the 2008 legislative session, to a deduction of 200 percent of qualifying premium payments.

Board member Greg Powell told the Associated Press after the bill signing ceremony that he has provided health insurance for his employees since 2005 and the money he will save under this new law will allow him to add two additional employees to his 10-employee firm.

BCA member Craig Bacheler, owner of Bacheler Technologies in Montgomery, was also supportive of the new law. “This bill allows my IT consulting firm to directly compete with well-established firms when trying to hire highly skilled employees,” said Bacheler. “I am able to absorb the high cost of health coverage knowing that I will get some tax credit relief at the end of the year. Without this bill being passed I did not know if I would have been able to offer health insurance to my employees.”

Also attending the bill signing on behalf of the BCA were President & CEO Billy Canary and Anita Archie, senior vice president for intergovernmental affairs, advocacy and communications and legal advisor.

HB 61 was a top- tier item in the BCA’s 2011 Legislative Agenda.

Senate Passes 2011 Tort Reform Bills
The BCA-supported, Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee (ACJRC) 2011 tort reform bills on Tuesday passed the Senate with overwhelming support. During the debate, Senate Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, specifically thanked the business community for its work in helping to craft the package. 

Senate Tort Package:

  • SB 59, by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, would decrease the statute of repose for commencing a civil action against an architect, engineer or builder from 13 years to seven years. SB 59 passed 29-1.
  • SB 184, by Sen. Brooks, R-Mobile, would protect retailers, wholesalers and other distributors of products from being sued in product liability actions where the product comes in a “sealed container.” The bill only protects retailers from the “innocent conduit” situations. During the debate on the Senate floor, Brooks stressed that the legislation would offer retailers “a layer of protection” and “save small businesses money.” SB 184 passed 34-0.
  • SB 207, by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, as agreed, would provide that judgments, other than judgments based on a contract action, would bear a flat rate of 7%. Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, took “personal exception” to the bill and predicted the Legislature will revisit this issue when interest rates go back up. The bill passed by a vote of 30-3, with one abstention.
  • SB 212, by Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, as agreed, provides that a wrongful death action may only be filed in a county where the deceased could have filed a civil action, if living, and added that Rule 82 of the Rules of Civil Procedure would continue to apply to wrongful death actions.  The bill passed 32-1.
  • SB 187 by Sen. Ben Brooks, R-Mobile, would require the federal expert witness rule, known as the “Daubert Standard,” to be applied in Alabama and be limited to scientific evidence. The U.S. Supreme Court mandated the Daubert standard in all federal courts in 1993; however, Alabama remains one of the final states that has not adopted the rule. Brooks said the legislation will “improve the reliability of testimony a jury hears,” and will promote a fairer, more just system. The bill passed 31-1.

House Tort Package:

  • HB 251 by Rep. Wes Long, R-Guntersville, as agreed, protects retailers, wholesalers and other distributors of products from being sued in product liability where the product comes in a “sealed container.” The bill only protects retailers from the “innocent conduit” situations.
  • HB 236 by Rep. Greg Canfield, as agreed, would provide that judgments, other than judgments based on a contract action, would bear a flat rate of 7.5%.
  • HB 228, by Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga, as agreed, provides that a wrongful death action may only be filed in a county where the deceased could have filed a civil action, if living, and added that Rule 82 of the Rules of Civil Procedure would continue to apply to wrongful death actions.
  • HB 239 by Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Bay Minette, companion bill to SB 187 known as the Daubert bill, has not been considered.

BCA supports these bills.

Rep. Robinson thanks BCA for support
of Partnering for Progress conference
State Rep. Oliver Robinson, R-Birmingham, a long-time BCA ally and 2010 Progress Pac-endorsed candidate, appeared before the Governmental Affairs Committee meeting this week to share his perspective as a legislator who spent his entire career in the House majority, but following the 2010 election cycle, now joins his fellow Democrats in the chamber’s minority. 

“I thought after November 2 that the world was coming to an end because for

Robinson
Rep. Oliver Robinson

the first time in 12 years I would have no chairmanship, and I would not help determine the direction of the House,” Robinson said. “But I must say that, under the leadership of Speaker Mike Hubbard, things have been fair, and in the end, all you really want is fairness.”

Robinson did note that few bills sponsored by Democrats moved through the House before the session’s half-way point, which was marked last week, but conceded that similar action occurred when his party held the gavel.

“During my 12 years in the Legislature, the Republicans had the same problem (with moving bills through the House),” Robinson said. “It is nothing any different from quadrennium to quadrennium no matter who is in charge.”

Referring to the Republican Handshake with Alabama, an omnibus platform of bills and initiatives upon which GOP legislative candidates across the state campaigned during the 2010 elections, Robinson said he is glad that each measure in the agenda has finally cleared the lower chamber so lawmakers may turn their attention to other areas.

Unity among Republicans has been tested since House approval of the Handshake package, according to Robinson, and GOP lawmakers have been quarreling among themselves over some of the measures.

“Sometimes the Republicans start fighting with each other, and for me, that is a pretty good thing to see,” Robinson told the group. “Anytime the Republicans start fighting over a piece of legislation, it starts to make the few Democrats left in the chamber more relevant in the process. With the Handshake bills, you always knew when you pressed the button to vote that it was going to be all of the Republicans for it and all of the Democrats against.”

He thanked BCA for its support of the Partnering for Progress conference, held each fall at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, and its efforts to build better relationships between the business community and African-American members of the Legislature, among others.

Business, caucus benefit from conversation

“You may not readily see it, but I see how it is beginning to influence the members of the black caucus and other elected officials around the state,” Robinson said. “Having the opportunity to get to know members of the business community and better understanding business issues makes for better conversation between the groups.”

Oliver Robinson talks about Partnering for Progress.
Oliver Robinson talks about Partnering for Progress.

Robinson said job creation is the top priority for every member of the Legislature – whether Democrat or Republican – because more employment leads to additional tax revenue which results in more funding for public education and state services.

Calling upon his experience in the banking industry, Robinson compared state government to corporations who must be accountable to shareholders, or, in his example, taxpayers.

“We have to create an environment in which the shareholders are happy with the leadership of our corporation, and the only way to do that is to produce profits and use good business practices,” he said. “And, ultimately, that is the same thing that taxpayers expect from the leaders of our state – good leadership, good results and good business practices.”

Asked about the fiscal health of his native Jefferson County, Robinson said a recent court ruling nullifying the occupational tax and continued difficulties with the financing of the local sewer system have created a tenuous situation.

Members of the county commission, according to Robinson, have asked lawmakers to approve a measure of home rule that will allow for more local tax increases without having to navigate bills through the State House. Unearmarking currently earmarked dollars is among the other requests being made by the commission, but the lawmaker said he does not feel Republicans or Democrats in the Legislature are prepared to grant any of the wishes.

“The Jefferson County Public Health Department does have $70 million in reserves, and I think we can look at taking that money and bridging the county’s needs until we can hold another referendum on bringing the occupational tax back,” he said.

Immigration bill passes
full Senate with changes
SB 256, by Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, which seeks to curb illegal immigration in Alabama by cracking down on employers who knowingly or intentionally hire illegal immigrants, cleared the Senate Thursday by a vote of 26-6. 

Under SB 256, an employer is not required to utilize the E-verify program to determine the legal status of workers unless he or she is applying for a government contract. Other forms of identification, such as a valid Alabama driver’s license or any valid U.S. government-issued identification document, may be used.

Employers seeking state contracts, grants, or incentives must submit a sworn affidavit afffirming that they are not knowingly employing illegal immigrants, in addition to providing proof they are a registered participant with the federal E-verify program. Employers found in violation would be fined 5 percent of the total contract and be subject to possible contract termination upon a first violation. On a second violation, the contract would be terminated; the employer would be barred from doing future business with the state and would forfeit 25 percent of the total contract. SB 256 includes a “whistle blower” provision that would award 50 percent of the damages collected by the courts to the person who reported the violation.

An employer who uses E-verify cannot be found liable of violating the law.

SB 256 does not require subcontractors to utilize the E-verify program. Instead, subcontractors must submit an affidavit, like contractors, affirming they do not employ unauthorized aliens. Under the bill, contractors cannot be held liable for the practices of a subcontractor so long as the contract between the two entities includes a provision stating that the subcontractor is not knowingly employing illegal immigrants.

For private contracts, employers found by the courts to have knowingly hired an illegal immigrant would be subject to a 14-day maximum business license suspension upon a first violation, a one-year license suspension upon a second offense, and permanent license revocation upon a third violation.

SB 256 now goes to the House of Representatives. BCA staff will continue to monitor the bill and work with the sponsor to ensure that employers are not unfairly burdened or penalized by this legislation.

 

Students First Act clears Senate panel
The Senate Education Policy Committee this week debated and approved a substitute to SB 310 by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, which is an overhaul of the state’s tenure law. Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Semmes, is sponsoring the companion bill, HB 465, in the House. Before a packed room, the committee voted 6-2 to send the bill to the full Senate. 

Under current law, a teacher who is fired by a local school board is provided an arbitration hearing and remains on the payroll throughout the process. Under the Students First Act, teachers would have 30 days to notify the State Department of Education that they are seeking to appeal the dismissal to an administrative law judge chosen by the State Department of Education who would have the option of overturning or affirming the board’s decision within 45 days. If the administrative law judge affirms the board’s decision, the teacher would have the option of appealing to the circuit court. Under the Students First Act, the teacher’s pay would cease upon notification of termination. Should the administrative law judge or an appeals court reinstate the teacher at a later date, back pay and benefits would be restored.

Under the original bill, a teacher could be fired for continual poor student performance. That has since been removed; however, Rep. Fincher said at a press conference on Wednesday, “We listened to teachers, took concerns and made changes to the legislation to make it better. They’ll have that fair, impartial decision made.”

Voting YES for the Students First Act were:
Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne; Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery; Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale; Sen. Slade Blackwell, R-Mountain Brook; Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison; and Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston.

Voting NO to the Students First Act were:
Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, and Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma.

The bill now goes before the full Senate for debate.

BCA supports this legislation.

 

Charter school legislation gains support
The House Committee on Education Policy held a public hearing on HB 459 by Rep. Phil Williams, R-Huntsville, which provides for charter schools in Alabama on a pilot basis as separate and distinct public schools under local boards. 

The bill is expected to be substituted when it comes up for a committee vote and will specify that the pilots be located in Class 1 and Class 2 municipalities of the state. Birmingham is the state’s only Class 1 municipality and Montgomery, Huntsville and Mobile are the state’s Class 2 municipalities.

At the public hearing on Wednesday, there was more support for this year’s version of the bill, compared to legislation proposed in 2010, due in large part to the bill limiting the number of charter schools that would be formed and placing more oversight under local boards of education.

BCA’s Senior Vice President for Intergovernmental Affairs, Advocacy and

archie
BCA Senior VP Anita Archie speaks in support of bill.

Communications and Legal Advisor Anita Archie told the committee, “Those who argue against charter schools fight for the status quo while those who support them believe we can rise above mediocrity and provide Alabama’s children the education they deserve.”

Tracey Meyer with the Alabama Department of Education also testified in support of the bill, saying “the innovations [charter schools] bring will do great things.”

John Hill with the Alabama Policy Institute called charter schools “hubs of innovation and creation for students and teachers.”

Some 39 states allow for charter schools in some form as an alternative to traditional public schools. Charter schools are required to provide instruction for the grade level, as are other public schools, but many of other regulations and procedures that other public schools must follow are waived.

The 2011 Legislative Agenda states that the BCA will support efforts to enact legislation allowing public charter schools in Alabama.

 

House Committee OKs bill to ‘double-weight’ sales factor in apportioning income of multi-state corporations
Corporations subject to Alabama income tax that sell tangible property and operate in several states currently apportion their income equally among the three factors — sales, property and payroll. HB 434, by Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery, would change the apportionment method to double the weight of the sales factor. This change would reward companies that invest relatively more heavily in the state, in terms of company property and payrolls, compared to their sales in Alabama, by sourcing less income subject to Alabama’s income tax. Conversely, the change would source more company income to Alabama taxation when the company sells more in Alabama relative to its investments in property and payrolls in Alabama. 

Alabama is the only state in the southeast that does not either double-weight the sales factor or employ a single sales factor.

HB 434 also provides that multi-state corporations that sell intangible property or services will be sourced where the intangible property is used or where the service is delivered. This change would again reduce the amount of company income that is sourced to Alabama to be taxed when the company has relatively greater sales of intangible property or services to non-Alabama purchasers.

The Alabama Department of Revenue estimates that double-weighting the sales factor will produce a net increase in tax revenue of $15 million annually, while the change to the sourcing rule for intangible property or services will yield a net increase in tax revenue of $5 million annually.

BCA is monitoring this legislation.

 

House passes Alabama Tax Appeals Commission/Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights II
HB 427 by Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, passed the Alabama House on Thursday by a vote 88 to 0. The legislation has been listed on the BCA Legislative Agenda for several years and combines provisions for updating the original Alabama Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights act and provisions to create an independent tax appeals tribunal, often referred to as the Alabama Tax Appeals Commission (ATAC). 

The bill separates the tax appeals function from the Alabama Department of Revenue and is intended to give taxpayers more confidence that their tax appeals will be adjudicated in a fair and impartial manner, by eliminating its connection to the Department.

Among the many provisions included in the legislation, the bill will: 1) allow taxpayers to appeal final tax assessments from self-administered cities and counties (and their private auditing firms), unless the governing body of the locality opts out; 2) extend the period that a taxpayer can appeal a preliminary or final assessment from 30 to 60 days; 3) conform two sets of federal changes to the innocent spouse rule; 4) increase the penalties for negligence, fraud, frivolous returns and appeals to conform with federal law; and 5) correct the statute that imposes a minimum $50 penalty for late filing, even when the taxpayer owes no tax.

BCA supports this legislation.

House approves Streamlined Sales
and Use Tax Commission
On a vote of 94 to 0, the Alabama House passed HB 355, by Rep. Mike Hill, R-Columbiana, which provides for the Alabama Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission to implement the procedures and identify the statutory changes necessary to bring Alabama into compliance with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. Several states have entered into the multi-state agreement in anticipation of the enactment of federal law that would simplify the collection of sales taxes nationwide. 

The Commission will be comprised of eight members: 1) two representatives of municipal government appointed by the Alabama League of Municipalities; 2) two representatives of county government appointed by the Alabama Association of County Commissioners; 3) two employees of the Alabama Department of Revenue; 4) one representative of the retail community appointed by the Alabama Retail Association; and 5) one representative from the business community appointed by the Business Council of Alabama.

BCA supports this legislation.

State budgets for 2012 may be dire,
but bill gives hope for job creation
barrymask
Rep. Barry Mask

As reported in the Birmingham News on Wednesday, Rep. Jim Barton, R-Mobile, Chair of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee predicts hundreds of state layoffs due to shortage of funds for the 2012 budget. However, a bill making its way through both houses of the Legislature may be an option to resolve some of the budget shortfalls.

The Alabama Jobs Creation and Retention Act, HB 478 by Rep. Barry Mask, R-Wetumpka, and its companion, SB 373 by Se

Williams
Sen. Phil Williams

n. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, allows Alabama companies which undertake new, expansion or retention projects to retain a percentage of state income taxes withheld from full-time employees at the project.

The program is discretionary, meaning the companies must apply to the ADO to participate in the incentive program and it is determined that the project creates a positive return for the Alabama economy. Simply put, for companies looking to locate or expand in Alabama, the state will not give away what it does not have. It must be a positive return on the state’s investment for a company to receive the incentive. For existing industries, it is designed to give the state the ability to preserve jobs in situations where jobs would otherwise be lost.

BCA supports this legislation.

Environmental Bills Update

HB 285, by Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, was referred to the Environmental Subcommittee of the House Commerce & Small Business Committee following a public hearing. The subcommittee recommended the bill to the full committee without any changes, and Committee Chair Rep. Greg Canfield, R-Vestavia Hills, has added the bill to the committee agenda next Wednesday. The legislation would provide a procedure for the owner of a motor vehicle to transfer to an automotive dismantler, parts recycler or secondary metals recycler a motor vehicle without a title if certain conditions are met, including a signed statement by the motor vehicle owner regarding its ownership, value, and identifying characteristics. This legislation is needed to correct legislation enacted last year that prevents “any” vehicle from being sold for recycling or scrap without a title. For many older model vehicles that have not been in use for years, there is no existing title and owners who want to sell the vehicles will not go through the Department of Revenue to buy a new title when they are selling the car for scrap.

Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs and Legal Advisor Anita Archie spoke in support of the bill during the public hearing, pointing out to the committee that this bill is on the BCA 2011 Legislative Agenda. The legislation passed last year has caused operating problems for several BCA member companies. The bill would help to eliminate problems associated with cars no longer in use that may lose fluids into the environment or cause blight in communities. BCA supports this legislation.

HB 143, by Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, passed the House on Tuesday. HB 143 would change the state solid waste law on local government approval of “new” landfill sites. Present law states that if a local governing body does not take action on a landfill site application within 90 days, it is automatically approved. HB 143 would reverse the law from automatic “approval” to automatic “denial” if the local government takes no action. BCA has been talking to the sponsor and will continue to work with him on the bill.

HB 406, also by Rep. Alan Baker, would set a two-year moratorium on the permitting of “new” commercial Subtitle D or Construction & Demolition waste landfills. During the two-year period, ADEM and the Alabama Department of Public Health will review their programs and propose legislation or update regulations as needed. BCA is monitoring the legislation.

For more information, contact BCA Environment and Energy Committee Chairman David Roberson at david@alcoal.com or (205)871-3734.

 

In other news
BCA given award for support of Pre-K education and early childhood advocacy 

 

The Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs presented the Business Council of Alabama with the First Class Friend for Alabama’s Children Award Wednesday for BCA’s support of early childhood development.

The BCA and its leadership have identified Pre-K education and early childhood investment as a top priority and are partnering with a number of reform-minded education groups to see that Alabama’s first class Pre-K program is expanded and adequately funded.

pre-kgroup
BCA President and CEO William Canary, right, visits with National Head Start  Foundation Chairman Ronnie Herndon and Dr. Marquita Davis, commissioner, Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs.

Accepting the award on behalf of BCA were BCA President and CEO William Canary and Senior Vice President Anita Archie. “The successes in Pre-K education and early childhood investment are great examples of how business and education, working together through a Business Education Alliance (BEA), can transform the future of Alabama,” Canary said. “Investing in our children is the best investment we can make.”

Canary made opening remarks at a special Pre-Kindergarten Forum and Reception Wednesday night, reaffirming BCA’s commitment to early childhood education. The keynote speaker was Ronnie Herndon, director of the Albina Head Start Program in Portland, OR., and chairman of the National Head Start Foundation.

The Alabama Partnership for Children and the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, among others, also received recognition for their work in early childhood education.

Chambers visit Montgomery, BCA offices

calhounchamber
Calhoun County Chamber delegation

 

Delegations from two local chambers of commerce brought delegations to Montgomery this week to meet with their local legislators and BCA staff.  The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, led by President Sherri J. Sumners, CCE, and the Greater Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, led by President Rick Roden, brought groups to the

jacksonchamber
BCA President and CEO William Canary briefs Jackson Chamber members

Capital City. Both chambers are members of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and The Partnership, BCA’s formal relationship with the CCAA.

 

Senate Committee OKs Forever Wild

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 6-3 to approve HB 126 by Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne, which reauthorizes Forever Wild, a state program that has bought and preserved land for environmental and recreation reasons. The bill could be acted on by the full Senate next week. BCA supports this legislation.

 

US Capitol WideWashington 

Briefing

President targeting political  

contributions of contractors

 

The White House is drafting new rules that would require companies seeking federal contracts to disclose their political contributions. The draft executive order includes stopping certain contributions during negotiation and performance of a government contract. 

Although some spending already is disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, the order would require that entities seeking contracts compile and disclose information on contributions by their political action committees and executives as part of the contracting process. The draft order would also require the disclosure of contributions “made to third-party entities with the intention or reasonable expectation” that the money would be used to fund independent campaign expenditures or electioneering communications.

The White House says the draft executive order is an effort to improve transparency and accountability in the federal contracting system.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a written statement, “No White House should be able to review your political party affiliation before deciding if you’re worthy of a government contract.”

As you may recall, early last year the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC that corporations and unions can pay for political ads anonymously. In the wake of that decision, Congress tried to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would have placed onerous restrictions on corporate free speech. The bill passed the House but failed in the Senate.

Alabama to receive $100 million
from BP agreement

The Natural Resource Trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill announced on Thursday that BP has agreed to provide $100 billion toward early restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico to address injuries to natural resources caused by last year’s spill.

Alabama as well as Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas will each receive $100 million in projects. In addition, the Federal Resource Trustees, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of the Interior will each select and implement $100 million in projects. The remaining $300 million will be used for projects selected by NOAA and DOI from proposals submitted by the state trustees.

“Alabama’s natural resources are environmentally diverse and an economic engine for our state and nation. Ecosystem restoration is vital to the economic vitality of the Alabama Gulf Coast,” said Gov. Robert Bentley. “Obtaining funding for these restoration projects is a major step forward in addressing the oil spill’s damage to our precious natural resources. I have the utmost confidence that the Alabama trustees will consider and identify projects and use these funds toward restoring our natural resources.”

Boeing receives contract

for SM-3 IIB Concept Design
BCA member Boeing in Huntsville has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to develop the Standard Missile-3 Block IIB (SM-3 IIB) and continue work on the development of the Next Generation Aegis Missile (NGAM). This $41.2 million, 32-month contract is for the concept definition and planning phase of the project.

NGAM is a key component of the Department of Defense’s Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe. It will provide capability against emerging longer-range ballistic missile threats.

“We’ll begin work immediately on the development of this advanced defensive capability,” said Boeing’s Ken Tucker. “The Boeing NGAM program office will be located in Huntsville. This effort will create approximately one dozen jobs initially, growing to more than 40 jobs by mid-2012.”

 

Session Events
Capitol Dome
The House will reconvene at 1 p.m.  and the Senate will reconvene at  3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26.
Next GA Committee Meeting April 26
The BCA Governmental Affairs Committee will meet Tuesday, April 26, at 8:30 a.m. in the first floor auditorium of the Business Center of Alabama. Our guest speakers will be Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, chairman of the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability Committee, and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville.
BCA Events
JoBonner
U. S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, will be the keynote speaker for the 2011 Alabama Manufacturer of the Year Awards May 9 at the Embassy Suites, Montgomery. Make your reservations today at www.alabamamoty.org!
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YOUR BCA ADVOCACY TEAM
Anita Archie, Senior Vice President and Legal Advisor, 

Intergovernmental Affairs, Advocacy and Communications

anitaa@bcatoday.org

334-240-8775

 

William J. Canary, President and CEO

billyc@bcatoday.org

334-240-8714

 

Mark Colson, Chief of Staff and

Executive Director, ProgressPAC

mcolson@bcatoday.org

334-240-8724

 

Claire Haynes, Director

Legislative Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs

claireh@bcatoday.org

334-240-8726

 

Nancy Wall Hewston, Director,

Federal Governmental Affairs and Strategic Communications

nancyh@bcatoday.org

334-240-8725

 

Nathan Lindsay, Director

Political Affairs and Regional Operations

nathanl@bcatoday.org

334-240-8766

 

Victor Vernon, Director

Legislative Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs

victorv@bcatoday.org

334-240-8722

 

Lenore Reese Vickrey, Director

Strategic Affairs and Advocacy Communications

lenorev@bcatoday.org

334-240-8740

 

Pam Ware, Manager

Intergovernmental Affairs, Advocacy and Communications

pamw@bcatoday.org

334-240-8719

 

About Us
The Business Council of Alabama is Alabama’s foremost association of business and industry and the state’s No. 1 business advocate. BCA represents more than 750,000 working Alabamians through its member companies, and through its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama representing 124 local chambers of commerce, more than one million Alabamians. 

Capital Briefing is a copyrighted publication of the BCA/CCAA Partnership. It is produced by the Business Council of Alabama’s Intergovernmental Relations, Advocacy and Communications Department for distribution to members of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, who represent local chambers across Alabama.

Capital Briefing is designed to serve as an information resource addressing timely issues and activities of particular concern to Alabama’s business community and your chamber’s members. BCA authorizes its reuse, in whole or in part, for membership communications produced and distributed by Partnership chambers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Business Council of Alabama | P.O. Box 76 | 2 N. Jackson St. | Montgomery | AL | 36101