By State Representative Danny Garrett, Commentary
MONTGOMERY — The Legislature’s primary focus in Week 2 was to pass the “Big Three”: three priority bills introduced last week that Governor Kay Ivey mentioned in her “State of the State” address. All three passed both chambers and were signed into law by the Governor on Friday.
The first bill, HB170 was legislation I sponsored to exempt all federal CARES Act dollars and other COVID relief received by individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations in 2020 or 2021 from state tax liability. The bill also decreases certain taxes for Alabama-based businesses and includes revisions to the Alabama Tax Code that will remove competitive barriers for businesses that are considering locating in Alabama.
The second priority bill renews and improves job creation incentives in the Alabama Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act. These two Acts have been credited with attracting over 180 projects and more than 32,000 jobs to the state! The highest-profile example is the Toyota Mazda plant near Huntsville, which promises to hire 4,000 people at full production.
The third priority bill protects businesses and other groups from frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19, which has been identified as a critical step to getting our economy fully recovered from the pandemic. The bill is designed to provide “safe harbor” to entities that took proper steps and followed CDC and Alabama Department of Public Health recommended protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to the COVID relief bill, I sponsored a bill addressing several Department of Labor statutes that includes a provision requiring the department to work with the federal DOL to maximize unemployment payments to individuals during a state of emergency. The bill passed the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday and is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting her signature.
On Wednesday, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth appointed me as the new chair of the Alabama Small Business Commission. The commission is tasked with formulating policies encouraging innovation for small businesses and advising the Alabama Department of Commerce on how to best promote small businesses. I appreciate Lt. Gov. Ainsworth’s confidence. Small business owners—many who live in House District 44— face a unique set of challenges right now just to stay in business. I look forward to continuing to work with the 22 members of the commission to remove obstacles so small businesses can grow, thrive, and create more jobs in our state.
COVID precautions continue to make the legislative session a very unusual process. The legislature will take a week off to review our COVID-19 safety measures and to make any necessary changes before bringing the legislature back on February 23rd.
It is an honor to serve House District 44. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 205-410-4637 if there is anything you wish to discuss.