MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama lawmakers return to the State House Wednesday to finish out the final few days of the session.
With three meeting days left and both budgets passed, legislative leaders say there are still several priorities to get through this week.
The House will take up bills that have already passed in the Senate Wednesday. The calendar includes a bill that would make certain retail theft is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Another bill bans the state from contracting with companies based on environmental, social and governance or “ESG” factors.
House General Fund Budget Chairman Rex Reynolds says while the House takes up those bills and more, the Senate will likely vote on the grocery tax reduction.
That bill would cut the state’s 4% food tax to 3% this September, then 2% in September 2025, as long as receipts to the Education Budget grow at least 2%.
“I think they will,” Reynolds said. “I think that will be a priority bill in the Senate. And so certainly want to proceed and get final there and get to the governor’s office for her signature.”
Reynolds said so far, the highlights of this session include the budgets. He said they address much-needed local projects and give $150 rebates.
“A lot of tax cuts and putting monies back into Alabamians’ pockets,” Reynolds said.
There could be another tax cut coming soon. House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels wants to axe the state’s 5% tax on overtime pay. That bill already unanimously passed in the House and is headed to the Senate.
“It’s a no-brainer, it increases productivity,” Daniels said. “We know that it’ll help companies, especially when we are competing with some of our surrounding states like Tennessee that do not have an income tax.”
While there are bills Daniels said he is disappointed to have run out of time for this session — including those reforming the parole process and creating a childcare tax credit — he said he is optimistic about the grocery tax reduction.
“This is the right thing to do for Alabama families,” Daniels said. “We had a tremendous year with the surplus, and I think right now we have to make investments back into the people of Alabama and giving them some relief.”
Reynolds said he expects the legislature will finish up Thursday. This leaves one day in case the governor vetoes parts of the budgets and they need to come back to address it.