Good news for franchising came out of the deep south earlier this week when the Alabama Committee on Government Affairs endorsed the Protect Alabama Small Businesses Act by a vote of 9 – 1 with 1 abstention. The bill, which addresses a number of abuses to which franchise owners are currently subjected, will next be heard at a public hearing before the House Committee on Commerce and Small Business. The legislation (S.129 and H.352) prohibits fraud, unfair business practices and other abuses by franchisors; addresses the sale, transfer or assignment of franchises for the mandatory repurchase by a franchisor; and requires the compensation of a franchisee for fair market value of the business upon termination, among other provisions. The hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday, and we encourage any of our subscribers who own or operate a business in Alabama to try and attend the hearing, or at least contact your legislators prior to Wednesday and encourage them to support this critical legislation.