Legislative session highlights

By SLADE BLACKWELL / Guest Columnist

The 2013 legislative session concluded at midnight on May 20. We passed a number of bills with a continued focus on government efficiency, improving education and job creation and economic development. Session highlights include:

-Government Efficiency:

The legislature passed three bills this year that streamline public safety, state IT functions and fleet management of state owned cars.

The estimated cost savings for the state for consolidating public safety is $30 million annually while the streamlining of state IT functions will save the state $30-$60 million annually.

In addition, projected savings for streamlining the state-owned motor vehicle pool is $10-$20 million over the next five years.

-Medicaid:

SB340, sponsored by Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, restructures the Medicaid system in Alabama by offering quality healthcare and creating regional care organizations. This new system eliminates the current model of fee-for-service care.

It will not only save the state an estimated $250 to $350 million from 2015-2019, but will also improve the quality of care for Medicaid recipients throughout the state.

-Alabama Accountability Act:

This historic bill provides tax credits to families with students in consistently failing schools who choose to attend a non-failing public or private school.

It also gives flexibility to local school boards so they can tailor their programs to the needs of their students. There are currently no failing schools in Shelby County — however, for other parts of the state, this is unfortunately not the case.

The Alabama Accountability Act will give students across Alabama an option for better education and opportunities.

-Historic Preservation Tax Credit Bill:

As sponsor of the Senate version of HB140, I was proud to see this bill pass. Historical properties are found throughout Shelby and Jefferson counties and HB140 will provide tax credits for the rehabilitation, preservation and redevelopment of these historic structures.

Eligible projects must be historic structure certified by the Alabama Historical Commission and total annual credits issued by the Historical Commission must not exceed $20 million.

This is just a quick recap of some of the highlights from the session. If you would like more details about something specific I did not cover, please contact me at any time. I am proud of what my colleagues and I accomplished during the 2013 legislative session. As your state senator in Shelby County, I will continue to work on smart legislation that will help move Shelby County and Alabama forward.

Slade Blackwell is serving his first term in the Alabama State Senate representing Jefferson and Shelby Counties in District 15.