Capitol Notes: Regular Session Ends

The 2021 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature ended its 30th and final legislative day at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, ending one of the more unusual sessions in recent memory. In typical fashion, the last legislative day was full of high drama in both the House of Representatives and Senate. And when the dust settled, several items were unexpectedly prevented from crossing the finish line.

The final day saw the Legislature send the largest State General Fund budget in the state’s history to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk. Additionally, legislation that would ban the creation and use of “vaccine passports” was approved, as was a bill to ban curbside voting. In a move that was surprising to some, a package of gambling bills was not considered by the House on the 30th legislative day, nor was SB10, a bill by Sen. Shay Shelnutt. SB10 would have prohibited doctors from providing gender-altering surgeries or treatments to minors.

Speculation is high that the Legislature will return to Montgomery for one or more special sessions later this year. In addition to a special session on redistricting, many believe that Gov. Ivey will ask legislators to convene and debate another comprehensive gaming proposal as well as a massive prison construction plan.

Gov. Ivey has until May 27 to sign legislation passed on the 30th legislative day. After that time, a final list of new laws will officially be available. Soon thereafter, the association will publish a list of all new laws that could potentially impact the state’s banking industry.

Some of the new laws important to the banking industry include the following:

HB147 by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City) and SB181 by Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Chairman Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) is the Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Financial Protection Act of 2021. These bills give financial institutions full discretion to refuse or delay a financial transaction whenever financial abuse of an elderly or vulnerable adult customer is reasonably expected. Introduced last year, these bills garnered unanimous support in both chambers, but were unable to pass into law after the session abruptly ended because of COVID-19. SB181 was signed into law on March 9. It is now Act 2021-78.

HB196 by Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) and SB35 by Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) makes technical changes to the Alabama Uniform Trust Decanting Act, a law passed in 2019 that provides a method for reforming or modernizing an irrevocable trust. SB35 was signed into law on March 16. It is now Act 2021-143.

HB293 by Rep. David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook) is the Qualified Dispositions in Trust Act, which would authorize the creation of self-settled trusts in Alabama. Drafted by the Alabama Law Institute, this bill could theoretically expand opportunities for financial institutions providing trust-related services. On the other hand, this bill could provide debtors with an additional option of shielding assets from creditors. SB 293 was signed into law on April 13. It is now Act 2021-238.

HB470 by Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest) and SB275 by Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) would allow documents to be remotely notarized under certain conditions. Drafted by a coalition of trade groups including the association, the Alabama Association of Realtors, and the Alabama Land Title Association, this bill codifies the “Remote Ink Notarization” provisions of Gov. Ivey’s Emergency Executive Orders. In short, it sets up guidelines that would allow a notary public to witness the signature of a document using videoconferencing platforms. SB275 was signed into law on April 22. It is now Act 2021-319.

HB474 by Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) and SB282 by Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) would amend the Uniform Trust Code to create a third option for a Trustee to use when seeking to be released from his or her service to a Trust. Under this option, release would be granted if no beneficiary or interested party objected to the release in writing within 45 days of receiving a notice of the release and an accounting of the Trust from the previous two years. SB282 was signed into law on May 6. It is now Act 2021-384.

HB475 by Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) and SB279 by Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) provides for how certain financial contracts would be governed after the publication of LIBOR is discontinued later this year. SB 279 was signed into law on April 22. It is now Act 2021-323.

Representatives and Senators introduced 1,047 bills – 648 in the House and 405 in the Senate – and 449 resolutions during the session. As of this writing, 472 of these measures have been enacted into law.

Unless they are called into a special session beforehand, legislators will return to Montgomery on Jan. 11, 2022, for next year’s regular session.