The Alabama Senate carried over controversial legislation that would have given the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), Manufacture Alabama, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) a formal role in assisting with making appointments to the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees.

The two-year colleges have been tasked with overseeing workforce development.

Senate Bill 291 is sponsored by State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence).

Melson said that the bill “Allows for the Business Council of Alabama and Manufacture Alabama to be involved with putting people that are knowledgeable on that board.”

Melson said the bill also lowers the amount that the Chancellor of the two-year college system can spend before going to the board of trustees for permission. The current threshold is $500,000.

Melson brought an amendment “Adding NFIB. They want to be involved in the board.”

Melson said that the bill requires the board to send a report to the Legislature annually.

“We have put that money in the two-year college system. We have a right to know,” Melson said.

“Nothing in this bill puts any accreditation in jeopardy.”

Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) said, “I am totally against this bill. It wipes out a lot of good board members and it is micromanaging.”

Melson said that he has prepared a new floor substitute of the bill and began handing out copies of the floor substitute to the other Senators.

Singleton said that the Senators needed time to review the new version of the bill and asked that it be carried over. Melson agreed and the bill was carried over to a future legislative day.

According to the synopsis of the version that was introduced, “Existing law provides for the composition and authority of the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Community College System. This bill would add an additional at-large trustee to the board of trustees. This bill would create a nominating committee to assist the Governor in appointing trustees to the board of trustees.

“This bill would create the Workforce Reform and Alignment Act and would require the Alabama Workforce Council to submit an annual report of business and industry workforce needs to the board of trustees and the Legislature containing a peer review of all workforce programs. This bill would also require the Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System to submit certain reports to the Legislature.

“The Board of Trustees of the Alabama Community College System. The board shall be composed of the following members: (1) The Governor, who shall be ex officio president of the board. (2) Seven members appointed by the Governor so that one member of the board is a resident of each of the seven congressional districts in the state as the districts are constituted on May 12, 2015” ...” Commencing on January 1, 2023, each member appointed to the board by the Governor shall be appointed from a list of individuals selected by a nominating committee. The nominating committee shall consist of the following members: a. The Governor, or his or her designee. b. The Lieutenant Governor, or his or her designee. c. A trustee of the board, as selected by the membership of the board. d. A workforce expert, selected by the Business Council of Alabama and Manufacture Alabama, subject to approval by the Governor.” 

That last part was amended to include the NFIB on the floor of the House.

“Thirty days before the expiration of the term of a trustee, or within 20 days following the creation of a vacancy in the office of trustee by death, resignation, or other cause, the Chancellor, upon at least 10 days' notice, shall call a meeting of the nominating committee. The nominating committee, by majority vote of those present at the meeting, shall nominate to the Governor the names of three qualified individuals to fill the respective trustee position on the board. The Governor shall appoint one of the nominated individuals to the board pursuant to subsection (d). (4) If the nominating committee fails to submit a list of nominees to the Governor within 30 days after a vacancy occurs due to any reason, the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, may appoint an otherwise qualified individual to the board, pursuant to subsection (d), without the assistance of the nominating committee.”

The BCA represents business interests in the state and lobbies the legislature on behalf of its members. BCA is the state affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Manufacture Alabama represents manufacturers in the state and lobbies the state on behalf of its members. The Alabama Chapter of the NFIB represents small businesses and lobbies the state on behalf of its members.

Thursday was day 23 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session. The Legislature is limited to just 30 legislative days per regular session. There is a maximum of seven days left in the session. The Legislature will next meet on March 29.

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