Legislative Wrap-Up, 0321 ALBJ, Vol. 82 No. 2 Pg. 136 (March, 2021)

PositionVol. 82 2 Pg. 136


No. Vol. 82 No. 2 Pg. 136

Alabama Bar Lawyer

March, 2021

2021 ALI Legislative Agenda

On January 15, 2021, the council of the Alabama Law Institute held its annual meeting and approved new projects to be proposed in the current legislative session. These bills are the result of more than 1,000 hours of hard work by more than 100 lawyers who volunteer on these committees.

We also appreciate the hard work of the legislative members of our executive committee to keep our efforts on track: Director Cam Ward, president; Representative Chris England, vice president; Representative Mike Jones; Senator Arthur Orr; Representative Bill Poole; and Senator Rodger Smitherman.

While approved by the council in 2020, several bills did not have an opportunity to advance because the 2020 session was cut short by the COVID-19 shutdown. For review, those bills are as follows:

Non-Disparagement Obligations

A committee chaired by Will Hill Tankersley, Jr. was formed to study the proliferation and law surrounding "non-disparagement obligations" which are being used with increased frequency in employment law. The committee did extensive research on how these are dealt with including a 50-state survey. Alabama law is silent on how to enforce or defend against these provisions, leaving businesses, individuals, and courts without any meaningful guidance on the issue.

The committee's proposed act: a) Establishes the circumstances and scope of both enforcement and defense of an NDO provision; b) Allows enforcement without further publicizing the alleged disparagement; and c) Places the parties on notice that NDO clauses will not interfere with the ability to communicate with law enforcement, regulators, or legal counsel. This proposed Act governs contractual rights only. Therefore, it does not expand or contract any existing common law tort causes of action.

Government Procurement

The protocols and practices that apply when the State of Alabama purchases goods and services have not been comprehensively reviewed in over 20 years. In the interim, particularly in today's digital world, some of the laws and approaches in this area have become obsolete.This committee chaired by John Montgomery, general counsel for the Department of Finance, was made up of more than 20 members representing a cross-section of the state's legislative and executive agencies, universities, and county and local governments.The group studied Alabama's current...

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