Alabama Forestry Foundation Improving Rural Alabama Education

education2A recent news article doesn’t provide very promising news for our education system. Mike Cason, with al.com, writes in his article Alabama students trail national averages in ACT results (found here) that Alabama public high school graduates in 2015 received an average composite score of 18.8 on the ACT while the national average was 21.

He goes on to say that things are even worse when broken down by subject matter. In particular mathematics (22% vs. 42% nationally) and science (23% vs. 38% nationally) were not very impressive.

The Alabama Forestry Foundation is working to correct that trend.

Through its Blackbelt Initiative, the Foundation is completing its third year of supporting two rural schools in order to improve math and science skills among K-6 graders. The Foundation sponsors a teacher “coach” at J.U. Blacksher in Monroe County and Thomasville Elementary in Clarke County. These teacher “coaches” provide training and support to other teachers to emphasize math and science excellence in all aspects of the curriculum.

We recently received some results from Thomasville Elementary that are very exciting.

After three years of immersion in the program, third graders exceeded the national averages (measured as a % of “readiness”) in mathematics (63% vs. 50% nationally) and science (35% vs. 29% nationally). The fourth graders were just a little behind in mathematics (32% vs. 45% nationally) but ahead in science (38% vs. 35% nationally).

What are the initial conclusions from this data?

It’s still very early in the process as we are only three years into the program, but two conclusions are emerging.

First, the program is working. Consistent testing has only been going on for three years, but we are able to determine that the third graders that were tested three years ago were far below the national averages and now the third graders that were tested this year are ahead of the national averages. The only change has been the Foundation’s program.

Second, the difference between the third grade and fourth grade data indicates that success is better achieved the earlier a student is exposed to the program.

If you would like to learn more about the Foundation and its Blackbelt Initiative view an informational video here.

The AFA Annual Meeting will be held at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama on September 13th – 15th. If you have not already registered for the conference, you can easily do so by going to www.alaforestry.org.

This year we will have the inaugural Alabama Forestry Foundation Breakfast on Monday, September 14th. Attorney General Luther Strange will be our keynote and will discuss the critical need we have for improving math and science skills in rural Alabama.

Excellent Continuing Education offered at AFA Annual Meeting

beach

The Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting is coming soon and if you need another reason to come to the beach you might want to consider the Continuing Education Track offered on Sunday, September 13th.

 

We have an exceptional line-up to discuss Forest Landowner Issues that are both timely and informative.

The agenda includes presentations on the Endangered Species Act, the status of the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (“ATRIP”) and the challenges presented in developing a major renewal of the Gulf State Park.

A focus of the Annual Meeting this year is improving access to international markets. Presentations will also be made on what to expect from the continued development of foreign energy markets, how to structure your small business to access these prospective markets and an in-depth look at the audit requirements for forest certification for resources used to produce products for these markets.

Continuing education credits are being awarded for legal, accounting, forestry and logging. If you are attending the AFA conference, the fee is only $75 and includes your lunch.

For more information, see the Registration Form located here.

The AFA Annual Meeting is being held at the Perdido Beach Resort in beautiful Orange Beach, Alabama, September 13-15. If you have not already registered, it’s easy to do by just going to www.alaforestry.org.

“Spirit” & “Nova” to appear at AFA Annual Meeting

tigerAuburn University’s famous eagles “Spirit” and “Nova” will be in attendance at the Opening Reception of the Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting on Sunday evening September 13th.  The birds will be available for photographs and are sure to be a hit with the children (both young and old!)

The birds have been invited by AFA to provide a highlight for the great work done by the Southeastern Raptor Center housed with in Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

If you have not done so, you can register for the Annual Meeting by going to www.alaforestry.org.  You better hurry!  Rooms are filling up fast.  We expect record attendance this year.

In the mid-1970’s, Dr. Jimmy Milton founded the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought six injured birds to the College of Veterinary Medicine and asked that the school become a rehabilitation hub for the Southeast. Dean Jimmy Greene, Dr. Greg Boring of Radiology and Dr. Milton arranged for Auburn University to become a regional center and accept injured birds of prey.

spiritDonations and volunteer work provided materials and labor to build a raptor barn behind the Small Animal Clinic in the late 1970’s. Birds were still treated in the hospital before being moved to small flight cages next to the barn. Later a hospital area was incorporated into the raptor barn.

In 1998 the Elmore Bellingrath Bartlett Raptor Center Hospital was opened off of Shug Jordan Parkway behind the College of Veterinary Medicine. The facility was made possible by a $300,000 donation from Dr. Woody Bartlett ’64 in honor of his mother, Elmore Bellingrath Bartlett, a noted Alabama philanthropist.

In 2002, the College of Veterinary Medicine opened the Carol Clark Laster/W.E. Clark Jr. Raptor Training Facility, which was made possible by Carol Laster of Birmingham. Laster, a retired junior high science teacher, donated $500,000 to the raptor center. Her husband, Dr. Russell Laster, is a 1951 graduate of the veterinary college. Mrs. Laster selected the Raptor Center for the gift after the death of her uncle W.E. Clark Jr., who left his estate to her care.

The Raptor Training Facility consists of 24 state-of-the-art mews and an office building. Non-releasable raptors are kept and trained at the facility for use in the educational programs. The Laster’s also contributed to the rehabilitation unit with the construction of six large flight aviaries for aerobic conditioning of releasable raptors.

In 2004, the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center (SERRC) was renamed the Southeastern Raptor Center (SRC) to reflect its multiple missions of rehabilitation, education and research.

Since its modest beginning, the Southeastern Raptor Center has treated and released thousands of birds of prey back into the wild. The educational unit has provided educational programs for thousands of schools, civic groups and churches in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Alabama Forestry Foundation utilizes the services of the Raptor Center to provide a meaningful hands on experience for rural school children to understand the benefits forests provide to these amazing birds.  See-  http://www.alaforestrygovtaffairs.org/raptor-warning-birds-of-prey-invading-monroe-clarke-counties/

For an interesting story about the history of Auburn’s first eagle involving one of AFA’s members, see-  http://www.alaforestrygovtaffairs.org/afa-member-plays-role-in-auburn-university-mascot-lore/

Attorney General Luther Strange to Headline Alabama Forestry Foundation Event

The Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting is scheduled for September 13-15, 2015 at the Perdido Beach Resort in beautiful Orange Beach, Alabama. Time is flying by and the conference will be upon us soon. If you have not registered yet, it’s easy to do so by registering on-line at www.alaforestry.org.

AFF

A new event is planned this year in conjunction with the conference. The Alabama Forestry Foundation will be highlighted at the Monday morning breakfast and sponsorship proceeds from the breakfast will go to the Foundation’s scholarship fund.

Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey will provide introductory remarks and then turn it over to Attorney General Luther Strange for his keynote presentation.

ivey2Ivey, a well-known and respected Association member, has been a tremendous supporter of forestry in Alabama. As a timberland owner, she well understands the importance the timber industry brings to rural Alabama. Ivey was born in Camden, Alabama (Wilcox County) and is a proud graduate of Auburn University. She has worked as a high school teacher, a bank officer, Assistant Director of the Alabama Development Office and with the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

She was elected to be the State Treasurer in 2002 and 2006. As Treasurer, Ivey put the sources of the state’s revenues on-line for public viewing. She updated the office’s technology, cut administrative costs by over $5 million and oversaw the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Plan (PACT).

In 2010, Ivey was elected to be Alabama’s Lieutenant Governor, beating Democratic incumbent Jim Folsom, Jr. She was re-elected in 2014 and serves in that capacity today.

luther2Luther Strange is the 49th Attorney General for the State of Alabama. First elected in 2010, he beat incumbent Troy King in the Republican Primary. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama and received his undergraduate degree from Tulane University where he also graduated from law school.

Re-elected in 2014, Attorney General Strange is a national leader in advancing the causes of federalism and limited government by combatting the increasing unconstitutional overreach of the federal government and its assault on individual liberty.

Strange serves as Coordinating Counsel for the Gulf States in the historic Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Litigation in New Orleans where he has been actively involved in trying the case against BP and other defendants. He recently announced a settlement in the case with BP that will bring over $2 billion to the state.

The Alabama Forestry Foundation’s scholarship fund provides resources for the education initiatives managed by the Association that provide for enhanced educational opportunities in rural Alabama which lead to advancing the prospects of a well trained work force for the future of the timber industry.

The Foundation’s Black Belt Initiative provides funding for teacher coaches in rural Alabama schools to assist K-6 students in improving their math and science skills. To learn more about the Foundation’s activities, visit www.alabamaforestryfoundation.org. A short video presentation on the Black Belt Initiative can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr6Lk6w9Hk0.

Captain Crunch for Breakfast at AFA Annual Meeting

The Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting is coming fast…we are now just 30 days away.  If you have not done so already, you can register on-line at www.alaforestry.org.

capncrunchWe are pleased to announce that Mike Kolen will be providing the breakfast address on Tuesday morning, September 15th.  Kolen is a former Auburn University standout linebacker and because of his hard-hitting style was nicknamed “Captain Crunch.”

An ALL-SEC linebacker at Auburn and a key member of the Miami Dolphin’s no-name defense, Kolen played eight years in the NFL and two championship teams, including the famed 17-0 team in 1972 that, to date, is still the only team to go without a loss in the NFL.

 

Kolen1For you Bama fans, you might be interested to know that Kolen was involved in one of the most famous plays in NFL history. The December 21, 1974 playoff game between the Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders is referred to as the “Sea of Hands” game. With 35 seconds to play and the Dolphins leading 26-21, the Raiders had the ball 1st and Goal at the Miami 8-yard line. Quarterback Ken Stabler dropped back to pass and was flushed out of the pocket and nearly sacked by defensive end Vern Den Herder. As he went down, Stabler wristed a weak pass toward running back Clarence Davis in the end zone. Davis was surrounded by three Dolphins, including Kolen. Kolen got his hands on the ball and nearly knocked it away, but somehow Davis, amidst a “sea of hands,” ended up with the ball and the touchdown, giving the Raiders the win and ending the Dolphins’ dynasty.

Kolen2His Auburn days included playing for the legendary coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan from 1966 to 1969.  He is in Auburn’s record books as being the leading tackler in 16 of his 25 starts for the Tigers.  He is honored with a spot along Auburn’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the “Tiger Trail” on College Street in downtown Auburn.  He has an annual Auburn award named for him, the Mike Kolen Award, presented each year at A-Day to the leading tackler from the previous season.

He now lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife Nancy. He has two children, Kelly and John, and five grandchildren. Mike owns Kolen Financial Team and works with his son.  He started a real estate development business in 1977 and a full concept Athletic Club in 1979 before selling them in 1994.

Mike is also well known for his public speaking and his “Team Message” is found to be quite inspirational.

Another Special Session Note

Feed The Pig!

Please sit down before you read this….

pig1

The mainstream media has been front and center on feeding the frenzy surrounding the Alabama legislature’s failure to pass a FY16 General Fund Appropriations bill. Often referring to the issue as a “crisis”, they repeatedly refer to the $200 million difference between actual revenue and the desire to fund at FY15 levels as a budget “hole,” or “deficit,” or “shortfall.” They go further to characterize the legislature’s inaction as “irresponsible,” “unconscionable” and “reprehensible.”

Say it enough and it becomes fact.  Legislators are now spewing the same rhetoric.

So, it was with some degree of surprise (sitting down yet?) to read Kyle Whitmire’s article in al.com discussing what would happen if the fiscal year begins without an appropriations bill passing to fund state agencies (see: “What happens if Alabama doesn’t have a budget by October?” at http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/08/what_happens_if_alabama_doesnt.html#incart_river).

According to Whitmire, 1975 was the last time the state began a new fiscal year without any spending authority. It’s an interesting read on Governor George Wallace having to call four special sessions in order to finally get a budget.

But buried in the article is a more compelling note.

Whitmire states that the legislature passed a $188 million General Fund appropriations bill on October 9, 1975 that included a raid of $30 million from Education appropriations. “In today’s money that would be equivalent to $824 million. Last year’s General Fund budget was almost twice that.”

He goes further “And much like today, the state’s Education Trust Fund dwarfed the General Fund. When the Alabama legislature finally passed an education budget in November of that year (1975), it appropriated more than $800 million to colleges and schools. In 2015 dollars that’s about $3.54 billion. Earlier this year, the Alabama Legislature approved a $5.98 billion education budget.”

Wow! How did we get to where we are?

2015 First Special Session- Wrap Up

trainwreck

 

The 2015 First Special Session is in the books. The main question now is “when will the next one be?” When is the next train wreck?

 

 

After 30 calendar days and eight grueling meeting days, the legislature was unable to come to a consensus on how to finalize a FY16 General Fund Appropriations bill. The Governor will now call them back at some point in the next few weeks to try yet again. The fiscal year begins October 1st, so time is running out.

Unless you live totally off the grid, you should be familiar with the issue. The General Fund appropriation for FY15 was $1.85 billion. Projected revenue available for FY16 appropriations is estimated to be $1.6 billion. The Governor desires at least $1.9 billion for FY16 state agency operations (down from the $2.3 billion he wanted in the General Session).

So he has proposed $300 million in tax increases.

The legislature would be happy with level funding.

In the time period that this has been going on, the Federal Government threw the state a bone and will pick up the cost of the insurance program for low income children (CHIPS) which costs approximately $50 million annually. Reducing the FY15 appropriation accordingly, the state needs roughly $1.8 billion to be on level footing for the coming year.

So now there is a $200 million difference between revenues and desired appropriations to achieve the level funding objective of the legislature. The Governor most likely would agree to that, but who knows?

Legislators are beginning to show the effects of the wear and tear of getting to the finish line. A few, especially those in the House of Representatives, are convinced that the sky will fall if additional revenue measures are not enacted.

The State of Alabama is a $28 billion machine. $200 million represents less than 1% of the total expenditures. Ok….sure…some of the $200 million is used to draw down federal matching funds. So, assuming a generous 4:1 match, let’s agree that a $200 million cut will actually be a $1 billion cut (this is a ridiculous assumption, but roll with it). Even with that, the state would be facing a whopping 3.5% cut.

3.5%. All this handwringing and gnashing of teeth, for 3.5% of the total state’s expenditures. Really?

The House of Representatives is floating a three prong approach to raise the $200 million. It includes raising the tobacco tax, changing the privilege tax on corporations and shifting some education dollars to the general fund. It is being characterized as fairly distributing the pain amongst individuals, businesses and education.

From all appearances, the Senate does not agree with that plan.

The Senate seems inclined to pass an appropriations bill that matches the expected revenues of $1.6 billion. They passed this bill in the Regular Session and they passed this bill in the First Special Session. There is no indication they will do anything differently in the Second Special Session.

The problem with the Senate’s strategy is that it makes the cuts arbitrarily; large cuts to smaller agencies (Ag & Industries, Forestry Commission) and smaller cuts to bigger agencies (Medicaid, Mental Health, Human Resources).

What they would really like is to be able to prioritize appropriations. Unfortunately, earmarks for revenues prevent that from happening.

In all of this frenzy over raising taxes during the 2015 General Session and the 2015 First Special Session, there has not been one single bill passed to reduce the size of government.

The appropriation’s bill passed by the Senate (which died in the House) did include provisions prohibiting new vehicle purchases and building construction for FY16…certainly a positive step in the right direction.

The House did pass a bill to remove $500 million in earmarks on statutorily imposed taxes only to see it die in Senate committee. Government agency lobbyists (including paid contract lobbyists…what in the world are we using state tax dollars to pay private lobbyists? That’s a topic for another day) came out of the woodwork to kill that plan. Ironically, this was the Governor’s bill and it was set out in the “call” of the Special Session. His own executive branch agencies killed his bill!

So where will all this go in the next few weeks?

The Governor most likely will call the legislature back to town near the end of September (some are predicting September 21st) in order to place more pressure on the members to get something done by October 1st.

And it most likely will be another train wreck.

Tax bills must originate in the House of Representatives. The House seems inclined to consider tax increases, but they set themselves up for angry constituents that believe enough money is being sent to Montgomery and they also become irritated knowing the Senate does not have to commit one way or the other prior to the House making its move.

And so you have the House mad at the Senate. The Governor is using his public pulpit to make the legislature look bad and so the legislators are unhappy with him. The legislature is making the Governor look bad and so he is mad at them.

Everyone is mad…and the train is coming down the track.

Stay tuned…..

Special Session Update- Day 6 (Friday)

stressThe legislature met on Friday and the question for the day was whether the body would meet and work through the weekend. Frustration marked the day and legislators are starting to exhibit the effects of the stress to get to the finish line.

 

The Senate, House of Representatives and the Governor continue to be in disagreement on a final solution to the funding levels for state agencies.

The Senate answered the question on whether to work over the weekend by adjourning early and adopting a motion to return to work on Monday.

Senate Activity on HB1, the General Fund Appropriations Bill

The Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee met Friday morning and gave a favorable report to a substituted version of HB1. The substitute removed the reduction of the $156 million in Medicaid funding that the House of Representatives passed on Thursday. The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill when they convene on Monday, August 10th.

Taxpayer Fraud Prevention Act

The Senate’s F&T General Fund Committee also gave a favorable report to HB42, sponsored by Representative Ken Johnson (R- Moulton), the “Taxpayer Fraud Prevention Act.” Pursuant to current law, Alabama taxpayers may elect exemptions to withhold state income taxes from their paychecks. The Department of Revenue believes that many taxpayers are electing enough deductions such that no state taxes are withheld and then later do not file tax returns. This legislation will remove the ability for taxpayers to elect withholding deductions.

Defining “Nexus” for tax purposes

The Senate Finance & Taxation Education Committee gave a favorable report to HB49 sponsored by Representative Rod Scott (D- Birmingham). This legislation addresses the requirements for companies domiciled outside of Alabama to be determined to have sufficient “nexus” to the state for tax purposes.

Next up

Both the Senate and the House adjourned Friday with the intent to reconvene on Monday, August 10th for the 7th legislative day of the 2015 First Special Session. The session must conclude by midnight on Tuesday, August 11th. This does not leave much time for anything meaningful to occur.

The Senate is expected to take up HB1, the General Fund Appropriations Bill, on Monday and send it back to the House. The House can either concur with the Senate’s changes or send it to a conference committee. The general consensus of the body is that the most likely scenario involves passing a bill that involves a spending level of approximately $1.6 billion, similar to the bill passed in the 2015 Regular Session. The Governor vetoed the same level of funding during the Regular Session and is expected to do so again. If he does choose to veto the bill, he can either veto it immediately (and give the legislature an opportunity to override his veto) or just hold onto it and thus enact a “pocket veto.”

The “pocket veto” route will inevitably necessitate the need for a 2015 Second Special Session. No one looks forward to that……..

Stay tuned….

Special Session Update- Day 5 (Thursday)

calmWhen compared to the previous days of this 2015 First Special Session, the fifth day was marked with calm and tranquility.

Translation: Nothing happened on the surface of the water, but there still appears to be a good bit of activity happening below.

 

Senate Activity on HB 1, the General Fund Appropriations Bill

The House of Representatives passed HB 1 Wednesday, but the Senate had already closed the journal so it did not get its first reading until Thursday. The Senate Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee is anticipated to meet Friday to address the legislation.

There are several scenarios that could take place and all seem to include adding back the Medicaid dollars that were removed by the House.

The first scenario being discussed is to move the use tax revenues ($225 million) from the Education Trust Fund (ETF) to the General Fund (GF). This is not popular because most legislators believe that it must be coupled with a “back-fill” for the ETF (tax increase), so it’s not gaining much support.

A second scenario is to move a portion of the use tax and a portion of the projected “excess” created by the Rolling Reserve Act in the ETF. The actual amount of the transfer is still subject to debate, but probably in the neighborhood of $150 million. No “back-fill” is discussed in this option and it’s being pitched as a one-year only deal.

The third scenario is to pass a GF appropriations bill that is similar to the one passed during the Regular Session that the Governor vetoed. While fiscally responsible, in that they would be spending only the existing revenue that they have, the government agencies, the Governor and the media are all in opposition to it and it will most likely get a veto once again from the Governor.

Pittman Not Giving Up on Business Tax Increase

Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) continues to use his powerful chairmanship of the Senate’s Finance & Taxation Education Committee to doggedly pursue a tax increase on the business community, specifically companies that have multi-state operations.

His first attempt was through the Committee’s passage of Senator Vivian Figures’ (D-Mobile) bill, SB39, that supposedly addressed a better definition of what determines whether a company has a “nexus” with Alabama for tax purposes. Buried in the bill was language that would give the Department of Revenue the authority to consider combined reporting for income tax purposes. Senator Figures was willing to amend the bill to alleviate business’ concerns, however, Pittman was not. The bill passed out of committee without the amendment and now stands ready to be considered by the full Senate. The bill will require a 2/3 vote (24 votes) to pass the Senate as it was not in the Governor’s “call” for the Special Session. It does not appear at this time that Pittman has enough support and hopefully the Senate’s leadership will not bring it to the floor.

His second attempt was through the Committee’s passage of Senator Linda Coleman’s (D-Birmingham) bill, SB51, which has as it’s sole purpose, the change in the corporate income tax law to require combined reporting. This bill also stands ready for consideration by the full Senate.

And now comes a third opportunity as Representative Rod Scott has a bill, HB49, which is similar to Senator Figures’ bill that addresses the “nexus” definition, only it does not include the language for combined reporting. The bill is scheduled for Pittman’s committee on Friday and it’s fully expected that Pittman intends to include the combined reporting language while it gets consideration before the committee.

Why is Pittman, a supposed fiscal conservative, so adamant in his attempt to punish multi-state corporations? Good question. He is clearly on the record that any transfer of ETF revenues (through use tax or Rolling Reserve excess transfers) should be coupled with a source of replacement. Perhaps he is stirring the pot to get the business community to not oppose other forms of taxes (tobacco, soft drink, etc) in order to get the “back-fill” to the ETF.

House Ways & Means General Fund has Public Hearing on Forever Wild Bill

Senator Clay Scofield’s (R-Guntersville) bill, SB38, had a public hearing Thursday before the House Ways & Means Committee. Many opponents to the bill spoke against it including the Department of Conservation, Forever Wild supporters and the environmental community. The committee did not vote on the bill Thursday and it is not on the agenda for Friday.

Gulf State Park Bond Issue

The Governor included in the “call” for the Special Session legislation to authorize the state to issue $50 million in bonds to go along with $83 million from the BP federal settlement to achieve full funding for a new hotel and conference facility. Legislation was introduced in the House (HB19) by Steve McMillan (R- Bay Minette) and in the Senate (SB15) by Trip Pittman. There has been no further action on the legislation by either body.

Plans for the next few days

The legislature will meet Friday and will then determine whether they will continue to work through the weekend or adjourn until Monday. If the Senate passes the GF appropriation out of committee on Friday and then adjourns until Monday, it will place significant pressure on the House to get something done. The Special Session is required to end at midnight on Tuesday.

Stay tuned….

Special Session Update- Day 4 (Wednesday)

house chamber

House Passes General Fund Budget

The Alabama House of Representatives passed HB1, the General Fund Appropriations Bill, by a vote of 53-40. The bill authorizes expenditures of $1.6 billion, nearly $200 million less than FY15 levels. This expenditure level is directly in line with the recurring revenue projections for the next fiscal year.

The difference in revenue between FY15 and FY16 is primarily due to the expiration of the “revenue” generated from the three year raid of the Alabama Trust Fund.

The House Ways & Means General Fund Committee had passed the bill the day before. The Committee had included an amendment that reduced Medicaid funding by $156 million compared to FY15 levels.

Procedurally, the full House had to adopt the committee amendment prior to final passage of the bill. That’s where things got interesting. The initial attempt to pass the amendment (reducing Medicaid funding) failed. A second attempt prevailed on a close 46-44 vote.

The 46 yes votes were all Republicans. 16 Republicans joined 28 Democrats voting no.  The second attempt to pass the amendment caught 14 members (including 9 Republicans) by surprise and they were out of the chamber and did not vote.

The Republicans voting against the bill were Jim Carns (Birmingham), Dickie Drake (Birmingham), Bob Fincher (Woodland), Danny Garrett (Birmingham), Mike Hill (Columbiana), Steve Hurst (Munford), Ron Johnson (Sylacauga), Mike Jones (Andalusia), Mike Millican (Hamilton), Randall Shedd (Cullman), Kyle South (Fayette), David Standridge (Hayden), Allen Treadaway (Morris), Issac Whorton (Valley), Ritchie Whorton (Owens Crossroads) and Margie Wilcox (Mobile).  David Faulkner (Birmingham) later changed his vote to be counted as a “no.”

The bill now moves to the Senate where it is scheduled to be addressed in the Finance & Taxation General Fund Committee on Friday.

Finance & Taxation Education Committee Passes Combined Tax Reporting Bill

The F&T Education Committee, chaired by Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) passed SB51 sponsored by Linda Coleman (D- Birmingham). SB51 proposes to fundamentally change the income tax methodology for multi-state corporations and is opposed by nearly every segment of the business community (including Forest Products Companies). The bill has a $38 million fiscal note, but most tax lawyers and accountants believe that number to be extremely low (perhaps by a factor of 10).

AFA strongly opposes this legislation.

Senate Passes Bill Modifying Forever Wild

SB38 sponsored by Senator Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) passed the Senate on a vote of 32-1. The bill, a proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot in March of next year, calls for a transfer of the $15 million per year set aside for purchasing land within the Forever Wild Program to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the purposes of operating state parks.

The bill now moves to the House and is on the agenda for the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee for Thursday.