The Alabama Legislature ended their 2019 regular session early, adjourning sine die on June 1st. It was a good, productive session and we survived several threats to design professionals. There may be another special session later this year to deal with construction three new super prisons. The first special session produced the new increased gas tax to help with infrastructure in Alabama.
Listed below are the major issues AIA Alabama worked on this session:
HB123 - by Rep Victor Gaston (R-Mobile) extended the Alabama Sunset Law; to continue the existence and functioning of the State Board for Registration of Architects until October 1, 2023. The BOA continues to enjoy good rapport with the Legislative Oversight Committee and the Alabama Legislature.
HB124 - by Rep Victor Gaston (R-Mobile) extended the Alabama Sunset Law; to continue the existence and functioning of the Alabama Historical Commission until October 1, 2023.
HB159 - By Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan) reduces the required number of restroom fixtures provided at public & private high school sports stadiums for each sex based on total stadium occupancy. The State Building Code contains requirements pertaining to the number of restroom fixtures to be provided for each sex based on the description of the facility.
Under this Act, the new requirements would be: (1) Men's restrooms shall be equipped with all the following:
a. One plumbing fixture per 200 seats for the first 1,500 seats of total stadium occupancy.
b. One plumbing fixture per 250 seats for the next 1,500 seats of total stadium occupancy.
c. One plumbing fixture per 500 seats for any remainder of total stadium occupancy.
d. One lavatory per 300 seats.
(2) Women's restrooms shall be equipped with all the following:
a. One plumbing fixture per 75 seats for the first 1,520 seats of total stadium occupancy.
b. One plumbing fixture per 125 seats for the next 1,520 seats of total stadium occupancy.
c. One plumbing fixture per 175 seats for any remainder of total stadium occupancy.
d. One lavatory per 300 seats.
In men's restrooms, urinals may be installed or substituted for plumbing fixtures according to the ratios provided in the currently applicable state building code or state plumbing code.
HB241 - by Rep. Craig Lipscomb (R-Gadsden) will allow the Alabama State Board of Examiners of Landscape Architects to increase the maximum fine the board may levy against a licensee from $250 to $2,500 per violation and allows the board to assess the costs of conducting a disciplinary action against an accused who is found guilty and increases the license application fee from $75 to $150. The bill was signed in to law by Governor Ivey.
HB430 - by Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) would require companies doing information technology work for the state of Alabama to buy and install computer tracking software on their computers so the state could audit the amount of time the company has actually worked on the contract. Rep. Craig Lipscomb, AIA (R-Gadsden) questioned the lobbyist pushing the bill and said it was one of the worse cases of "Big Brother" that he had ever seen.
Versions of this bill have been introduced across the country, some of which specifically targeted architects and engineers. This particular version is aimed more at IT contracts, but the broad wording of the bill causes concerns that all professional services could be covered.
The sponsor agreed to specifically exempt architects. This is the actual verbiage that would have been added to the bill to exempt us: "A licensed architect, landscape architect, engineer, surveyor, construction manager, program manager and right-of-way/real estate consultants working with state agencies or subdivisions of the state."
The bill died in committee.
SB168 - By Senator Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) would have amended the architect's license law to allow home builders to build duplexes, townhomes and virtually any other structures containing single family residential units. We met with the Home Builders Association of Alabama lobbyist on several occasions in an effort to reach a compromise. HBAA offered some alternative language, but we could not get comfortable with the changes to our law.
The original language was:
Any single family residence building or of any kind, nature, configuration, or character, attached or detached including, but not limited to, townhomes, duplexes, or other buildings containing single family residence units, regardless of size, provided that the structure is designed and built according to the International Residential Codes or other codes as adopted in this state governing the construction of one and two family dwellings.
The proposed amended language would have been:
One- and two-family dwellings, including (owner-occupied) town houses, designed in compliance with the International Residential Code as adopted by the Alabama Energy and Residential Codes Board or as adopted by the local jurisdiction in which the structure is to be built.
The proposed amended language quieted some AIA fears and satisfied some building officials, yet others across the state still though the change would have jeopardized the health, safety and welfare of the general public. The sponsor never scheduled the bill for a hearing, so it died in committee.