2019 STATE LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES – OTHER ITEMS
New Market Tax Credits
The BBA supports making permanent the tax credits available under the Alabama New Markets Development Act for certain investments in qualifying low-income communities.
Historic Preservation Tax Credits
The BBA supports and encourages state leadership to make permanent the tax credits for the rehabilitation, preservation and redevelopment of residential or commercial historic structures to stimulate private investment, downtown and neighborhood revitalization, and job creation.
The BBA supports legislation that encourages sustainable design and construction in public and private buildings, including the use of all products and materials that are grown or manufactured in Alabama.
Legislation Streamlining Sales Tax Collection and Multiple Audit Rules
The BBA supports state legislation that allows state and local governments to require the larger online vendors to collect sales tax from their customers in Alabama and remit the tax to the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR), as the agent for both the state and the local governments. In turn, those vendors would have an enhanced single point of filing, be subjected to only one audit and could rely on tax rate information furnished monthly by the ADOR.
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Continuation and Expansion of the Alabama Innovation Fund
The BBA supports the continuation and expansion of the Alabama Innovation Fund to $10 million annually. The fund would provide tangible recognition by the state of the important role its universities and research nonprofits play in job creation and economic development. Furthermore, the BBA supports distribution of these funds via a mechanism in which universities and research institutes provide up to $500,000 to recruit new faculty talent to the state that has a superlative record of grantsmanship and/or creation of commercially successful spin-off enterprises, which is then matched one-to-one by the state.
UAB Biomedical Research Corner
The BBA supports the continued development of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Corner through a substantive investment in the Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building. This complex, once completed, will provide new research space for interdisciplinary biomedical research, including investigators from multiple schools working on common themes. The complex would house researchers studying medical informatics, personalized medicine, cybersecurity and the analysis of “big data.” This is an important opportunity for the state to invest in new jobs and economic development in the Birmingham area.
The BBA supports the construction, full funding and timely completion of the Northern Beltline as an essential component of the Appalachian Development Highway System in order to support economic development and additional job creation in the region and the state. The BBA opposes any actions that would redirect the readily available federal funds for the Northern Beltline, which can be used without any state matching funds, to other state transportation projects that require the use of state matching funds to access federal funds.
Bus Rapid Transit
The BBA supports the Birmingham Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) initiative, Birmingham Xpress. The BBA supports the City of Birmingham as it pursues future BRT funding opportunities, in addition to the $20 million TIGER grant it received in 2015. Birmingham Xpress is an efficient bus-based transit system that delivers fast, comfortable, convenient and cost-effective services at metro level capabilities. The Birmingham Xpress corridor will be 12.5 miles in length, connecting 25 neighborhoods through 19 stations beginning in Birmingham’s Woodlawn neighborhood and extending westbound through parts of Downtown Birmingham before terminating near the CrossPlex facility. Birmingham Xpress will grow the city’s economy by attracting new development in surrounding neighborhoods, connecting residents to jobs, schools, health care, recreation/entertainment establishments and businesses along the corridor.
U.S. Highway 280
The BBA supports corridor management to continue to mitigate the congestion issue on U.S. 280, including the I-459 interchange. The BBA encourages ALDOT to implement corridor management practices in additional areas further East where feasible.
The BBA supports transportation initiatives and efforts to find new streams of revenue for urban and rural transit systems throughout the state, determining the best approach to cohesively acquire statewide support.
Interstate 59/Interstate 20
The BBA supports the timely completion of the I-59/I-20 construction project as well as continued discussion and analysis among ALDOT and governmental, business and civic leaders to ensure that the project’s design and construction meet the long term needs of the Birmingham community, address the needs of adjacent institutions and businesses, improve the quality of place below and around the new structure, minimize its negative impacts on sound, vibration and aesthetics, and improve traffic flow and safety.
College and Career Ready Standards
The BBA supports Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS). CCRS is a set of academic standards for what school students need to learn in Math and English each year. CCRS provide a solid foundation for Alabama’s future workforce by closing the skills gap between what skills employers need and what skills employees have. The BBA supports a shared academic standard to ensure that a diploma from an Alabama school means as much from state to state.
The BBA supports expansion of the state’s high-quality voluntary pre-k program. Since 2012, the level of investment in Alabama’s pre-k program has increased from $19 million to $77.5 million; enrollment increased from 6 percent to 28 percent for the 2017-18 school year. Every $1 invested in high-quality pre-k produces a return on investment (ROI) of approximately $7. Pre-k results in savings by reducing the need for remedial and special education, welfare and criminal justice services. The BBA supports investing in our children to help ensure that they are job-ready and well-prepared as future employees.
Southern Research STEM Outreach
The BBA supports continued state funding for Southern Research’s (SR) statewide STEM Education Outreach program. Now in its fifth year, SR’s STEM education initiative works with students and teachers throughout Alabama in the fields of chemistry, engineering and environmental sciences to advance interest and learning in the highly sought-after STEM disciplines.
Insurance Premium Tax Credits
The BBA supports the continuation of insurance premium tax credits at the current level, which offset insurance premium taxes paid to the Alabama General Fund. The premium tax credits offer incentive to insurance companies operating in the state to invest in Alabama and create jobs.
The BBA supports sustained and adequate funding of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to ensure that ADEM retains primary responsibility over regulatory programs. This includes supporting sufficient appropriations from the state General Fund to ADEM.
Development of State Water Policy
The BBA supports efforts to fund and gather scientifically sound data associated with the surface water, groundwater, instream flows/volume and ecosystems to provide a full understanding of Alabama’s water resources as a basis for developing a balanced state policy regarding water issues and economic development. The BBA supports adequate infrastructure and water quantity to meet the state’s needs for municipal and industrial water supply, navigation, energy production, economic development, irrigation and recreational uses.