Today marks the 30th and final day of the 2023 Alabama legislative session, with the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association successfully lobbying on several bills , with a few of those expected to pass today. One successful bill signing that has passed for this session is the eighteen year-old alcohol server bill for special retail licensees and the ability to receive responsible vendor training on-line. Thank you to the President of the ARHA, Mindy Hanan, and the Chairwoman, Penny Groux, as well as to the bill sponsors Senator Chris Elliott and Representative Frances Holk-Jones! More from the desk of ARHA and their Lobbying efforts below.
RTD Showdown in Senate Tourism
ARHA CEO and President Mindy Hanan and Penny Groux were among the jam packed room on Wednesday where a public hearing was held in the Tourism committee to discuss the pros and cons of the RTD (Ready to Drink Spirits) bills. It is too late for those proposals to be considered but the hearing along with the Resolution creating a study commission on the route that the Alabama legislature should take with legislation sets the stage for the 2024 session. ARHA supports any legislation that provides more opportunity for products for its members. It will be interesting to participate and observe commission meetings in the months to come.
Listed below are some of the other notable bills from last week.
ARHA Amended Food and Alcohol Truck Bill Advances in Committee
All hands were on deck at a Senate committee meeting where the statewide food and alcohol bill was slated for review. There were no questions regarding the bill and it was given a favorable report and eligible for consideration on the final day of the session.
It should be noted that the ARHA backed amendment to protect brick and mortar entities stayed in tact in the committee and if the bill reaches the floor the lobbying team will be front and center in protecting this important amendment on the bill.
Overtime Tax Exemption Bill Reaches Final Passage
As previously reported, ARHA has monitored the bill to remove the tax from overtime earnings. The bill sponsor, Rep. Daniels from Huntsville briefed ARHA members and lobbyists prior to the session on his concept for this bill.
The bill passed the House several weeks ago and was languishing in the Senate. News accounts said that pressure from groups supporting the bill and named the following groups. They were BCA, the Alabama Hospital Association, labor interests and several large companies like Austal and the story claims that support paved the way for consideration by the Senate. Then bill ultimately passed by a 34-0 vote after an amendment was adopted and lots of discussion about the mechanics of the bill ensued.
Most of the discussion was headed up by Sen. Orr, who chairs the Education Trust Fund Budget. An amendment was passed that capped the amount that can be claimed in totality to $25 million and there was already a sunset provision added in the Senate committee that will require the bill to be approved again in three years or it will sunset. The Department of Revenue will promulgate rules and regulations to implement the bill. Many are unsure just how the department will handle the cap and a task force is being formed to aid in the implementation of the legislation.
Orr proposed and then withdrew an amendment that would cap the tax cut on overtime pay on the first $2,000.00 made per individual. He expressed not only the monies that would be depleted from the Education budget but he also questioned the administrative aspects that come with the passage of the bill. One ARHA member raised concerns about how their software payroll would handle the calculations. As these issues are addressed, ARHA will fully inform members so stay tuned.
Governor Signs Historic Budgets/ARHA Foundation ProStart Included
Another victory for not only ARHA but the students in the State of Alabama included an appropriation for the ProStart program to aid students in the pursuit of culinary opportunities. This program is revered by ARHA as a foundation for providing training, scholarships, and competition opportunities for hundreds of students. This program is the launch pad for many of them entering the industry.
ARHA has consistently educated the legislature on the importance of this program and its help to many students within the state. Our heartfelt pleas for funding did not go unnoticed and the appropriation will continue for the 2024 year.