Update 2 on the 2016 Alabama Legislature's current session
Here is a summary of major new laws passed by the current session of the Alabama legislature:
Alabama Act 2016-112: This act amends Alabama Code § 34-14-1 (and following) that addresses the Board of Hearing Instrument Dealers. The amendments allow for apprentices to fit hearing aids under the direct supervision of a hearing aid dispenser or specialist, provide reciprocity to licensed hearing aid specialists from other states, change aspects of licensure testing, and set the maximum fee that the board can charge.
Alabama Act 2016-114: This act vests the Board of Agriculture and Industries and the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries with the sole state-wide authority to regulate seeds. Local governmental units are prohibited from regulating cultivation, harvesting, production, processing, registration, labeling, marketing, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, possession, notification of use, and planting of seeds.
Alabama Act 2016-127: This act requires that each county commissions provide legal counsel for the state and county for an appeal to the circuit court when the appeal involves the valuation of property for ad valorem tax assessments. Previously, district attorneys and attorneys from the Alabama Department of Revenue were to provide representation in all property tax cases. The county commission may now hire legal counsel and participate in insurance programs that cover such cases.
Alabama Act 2016-128: This act amends the Alabama Ethics Law, particularly Alabama Code § 36-15-13. Under limited circumstances, it allows a retired director, department chief, or division chief of a state government agency to contract with his or her former government employer to provide assistance during a transitional period following retirement. It also clarifies that the 2-year prohibition against lobbying by such officials begins after this post-retirement contract ends.
Alabama Act 2016-129: This act addresses foster care and kinship guardianships. It provides for the appointment of a successor guardian when a kinship guardian dies or is incapacitated, requires the juvenile court to consider services needed to assist a child in making the transition from foster care to independent living at age 14 (instead of age 16); and defines a standard of care for children in the foster care system. The acts adopts the reasonable-and-prudent-parent standard for judging the appropriateness of foster children participating in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, or social activities. Although there can be exceptions, the act permits foster parents to allow foster children to participate in such activities without prior approval of the Department of Human Resources or a court so long as the activities are age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for the child.
Alabama Act 2016-130: This act amends Alabama Code § 28-3A-6 to allow a distillery to sell at retail up to 750 milliliters of its product a day to a customer for off-premises consumption.
Alabama Act 2016-131: This act allows for a licensed winery to operate one additional tasting room in addition to its onsite tasting room. This act amends Alabama Code §§ 28-3A-6 and 28-7-18. For this purpose, wineries are required to obtain permits from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
Alabama Act 2016-132: This act makes it a crime to harass, injure, or kill a service dog. In addition to people committing these acts, this act also outlaws non-service dogs harassing service dogs.
- Harassing a service dog is a Class C misdemeanor, meaning the violator may spend up to 3 months in jail and be fined up to $500.
- Injuring a service dog is a Class B misdemeanor, meaning the violator may spend up to 6 months in jail and be fined up to $3,000.
- Killing a service dog is a Class A misdemeanor, meaning the violator may spend up to a year in jail and be fined up to $6,000.
Furthermore, the act provides that the owner of a service dog is able to sue the violator.
Alabama Act 2016-133: This act changes the laws governing credit unions, beginning with Alabama Code § 5-17-2. Among other things, it clarifies and codifies certain powers of credit unions so that state credit unions have the same powers as federal credit unions, provides remedies for people affected by problems in the operation of a credit union, and supplies the administrator of the Alabama Credit Union Administration with investigatory and enforcement powers.
Alabama Act 2016-139: This act amends Alabama Code §§ 16-16B-1 and 16-16B-2 (the Alabama Ahead Act). Originally, passed in 2012, this act provided for electronic textbooks in public schools by using tablets or laptop computers. The amendments fine-tune the original act and establish an Alabama Ahead Oversight Committee to replace the advisory committee originally created.
Alabama Act 2016-140: This is the Unborn Infants Dignity of Life Act. It allows the parents of deceased unborn infants to provide for a disposition of the remains of these infants, prohibits the sale of the remains of unborn infants, and prohibits the use of the remains in research and experiments. In addition, it sets out criminal penalties for violation of the act, allows for parents to sue if remains are “misused” or “abused,” and provides that disciplinary action can be taken against healthcare providers who violate the act.
Alabama Act 2016-141: Named the Protection of Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation Act, this law allows qualified individuals to notify the Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Alabama Securities Commission when they think that an elderly or otherwise vulnerable person is being financially exploited. Qualified individuals include agents, investment adviser representatives, investment advisers, and broker-dealers. Broker-dealers or investment advisers may delay disbursements from a vulnerable individual’s account provided they comply with the requirements of the act.
Alabama Act 2016-145: This act proposes an amendment to the Alabama Constitution of 1901 to allow the Alabama Department of Natural Resources the option of contracting with non-state entities to run hotels, golf courses, and restaurants in Alabama state parks. The citizens of Alabama will vote on this proposed amendment in the next general election.