Wednesday, July 03, 2024

From The CEO: Member-driven advocacy reaches key milestones in latest Legislative session

As a leader in Alabama’s trucking industry, you have every reason to take pride in our collective achievements during the 2024 Legislative Session. Specifically, you helped spark a new era for lawsuit fairness in Alabama with the introduction of the Lawsuit Fairness for Alabama Act of 2024. This landmark legislation garnered support from an array of business organizations and was sponsored by two brave lawmakers, Sen. Arthur Orr (R–Decatur) and Rep. David Faulkner (R–Birmingham).

This sensible yet aggressive legal reform bill brings rationality and fairness to certain practices being abused in Alabama courtrooms. The tactics used by some plaintiff attorneys inflate the cost of litigation, unfairly target Alabama businesses as profit centers for the plaintiff’s lawyers and financing companies, and ultimately incite a lawsuit tax of more than $1,000 per year on all Alabama consumers.

It has been nearly 30 years since the legislature has had a robust discussion on lawsuit fairness and given the overly litigious and inflationary times we are in, now is the time to rebalance the scales of Alabama’s tort climate. Although our bill did not advance this year, its introduction signaled the dawn of legal reform in Alabama. Our journey towards a fair and transparent tort climate is far from complete. For more information, visit www.LawsuitFairnessForAL.com. Expect further developments on this issue in the upcoming months. Stay tuned.

Another highlight from this legislative session was a new law that caps the property tax increases imposed by local governments through their annual appraisals at 7%. Residential, agricultural, and business taxpayers have seen massive increases in property valuations, and this bill sponsored by Rep. Phillip Pettus, (R–Killen), and Sen. David Sessions, (R–Grand Bay) limits the increased tax burden that can be imposed by local governments.

These two issues are great examples of why engagement with legislators by our association members is so important. While one passed and the other did not, legislators got mixed information from the various stakeholders about the real-life impact of these proposals. To strengthen our case, they must hear directly from you in their home districts so they can fully understand the real-life impact that issues are having on you: the job creators and constituents who elect them.

Alabama trucking businesses employ 131,000 Alabamians and move 82% of the state’s manufactured goods. Simply put, your voice matters and lawmakers need to hear from you. Alabama Trucking members’ direct engagement with policymakers will be the game-changer that protects and advances our industry into the future.

Other legislation of note for trucking:

  • CDLs will be updated to align with federal regulations under SB258 by Sen. Keith Kelley (R—Weaver) and Rep. Russell Bedsole (R—Alabaster). (Act 2024-245)
  • Alabama law on weight limits for vehicles will be clarified under SB266 by Sen. Steve Livingston (R—Scottsboro). (Act 2024-248)
  • Penalties under the Alabama Move Over Act, requiring drivers to respect road construction and maintenance vehicles, were tightened by HB315 by Rep. Rhett Marques (R—Enterprise). (Act 2024-295)
  • A provision of Alabama’s intrastate hours of service limit for commercial drivers is being aligned to the federal limit according to HB110 by Rep. Russell Bedsole (R— Alabaster). (Act 2024-210).

As a company, and collectively as an industry, you possess a compelling story. But you have to share it. Let’s ensure our elected officials grasp the unique and vital role of trucking, empowering them to make informed decisions for Alabama’s taxpayers and job creators. It makes all the difference when lawmakers hear directly from those on the front lines of our nation’s economy.