MONTGOMERY – Alabama is one step closer to having a major weapon in its economic development arsenal, as the House of Representatives passed a key job-growth bill on Thursday.
House members passed a constitutional amendment that allows voters to give the Governor and the Alabama Development Office the authority to offer incentives like those used on the Mercedes project to recruit new industry to Alabama and prevent existing industry from leaving the state.
Rep. Barry Mask, who works as a local economic developer and who sponsored House Bill 159, said this bill was a major component of a job-growth package designed to give the state more tools for helping existing industry expand and recruiting new companies to the state.
“We’re trying to give our state and local economic developers more tools to help grow existing businesses and land new industry, both of which result in more jobs for Alabamians,” Rep. Mask said. “I was pleased to work with colleagues from both parties to make this bill better so that voters can be confident in the plan we put before them.”
Despite scare tactics employed to defeat the bill by the Alabama Education Association and the Alabama Democratic Party, this constitutional amendment and its corresponding enabling bill both passed with strong bi-partisan support. Even the House Minority Leader voted in favor of both bills.
“It’s hard to believe anyone would be against bi-partisan efforts to boost job growth,” Speaker Hubbard said. “When the economy grows, our education budget grows, and we have more funds to put toward schools. More jobs and more money for education means everybody wins. Most importantly, the people win over the special interests.”
The constitutional amendment and enabling legislation now move to the Senate, where State Senator Phil Williams (R-Gadsden) is carrying both.
“I want to congratulate the House Members, especially Rep. Barry Mask, for doing an outstanding job, and Governor Bentley for his continued support,” Senator Williams said. “We are going to take this thing into the second half now and run it all the way to the goal line.”
More information on the Alabama Job Creation and Retention Act:
· This constitutional amendment (HB 159 passed today by a vote of 66 yays and 22 nays) would allow voters to give the Governor and the Alabama Development Office more flexibility in offering tax incentives to land major economic development projects and retain companies that might otherwise relocate outside Alabama without having to call a special session of the Legislature.
· The corresponding enabling bill (HB160, passed on Tuesday by a vote of 69 yays and 19 nays) sets strict parameters for how incentives can be used to ensure return on investment. Bi-partisan amendments to the bill strengthened investment and job creation requirements, as well as accountability and transparency safeguards.