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Alabama Legislative Report

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The Alabama Legislature convened in Session for Day 11 of the annual Regular Session on Tuesday, March 14, held committee meetings throughout the week, and convened in Session on Wednesday and Thursday for Days 12 and 13.

There have been 774 bills introduced to date. Thirty-two committees met to consider multiple
bills.

The Legislature will be on break for the next two weeks and will return to Montgomery on Tuesday, April 4 for Legislative Day 14 of the Session with the Senate convening at 10:00 a.m. and the House at 1:00 p.m.

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DURING THE WEEK:

The Governor made a return trip to the hospital on Tuesday for an irregular heartbeat. He was given medication and released. The Governor returned to work on Wednesday.

Jimmy Baker was named Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System where he has been acting Chancellor since Chancellor Mark Heinrich announced his retirement due to severe complications with shingles.

SIGNIFICANT FLOOR ACTION THIS WEEK:

Following extended debate, the House passed the General Fund Budget bill for Fiscal Year 2018 which begins October 1, 2017. The bill would level fund most State agencies, including the Medicaid Agency which had requested additional amounts, and will not include pay increases for state employees. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB155 by Representative Steve Clouse].

The House passed a bill that would extend the current supplemental privilege assessment on each bed in a nursing facility for State Medicaid match through August 31, 2018. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB347 by Representative Steve Clouse].

The House passed a bill that would extend the private hospital assessment for State Medicaid match for fiscal year 2018. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB348 by Representative Steve Clouse].

The House passed a bill that would limit a ticket issuer’s use of a nontransferable ticketing system to allow for the ticket buyer to resell the ticket. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB265 by Representative Paul Lee].

The House passed a bill that would authorize health care providers to decline to perform services that violate their consciences. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB95 by Representative Arnold Mooney].

The House passed a bill, known as the “Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act,” that would prohibit the state from taking adverse action against a foster or adoption agency that declines to place a child in a situation that conflicts with its’ religious beliefs. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB24 by Representative Rich Wingo].

The Senate passed a House bill that would further define the licensed premises of a holder of a retail liquor license in a Class 2 municipality (Mobile) Entertainment District. The bill now goes to the Governor [HB185 by Representative James Buskey].

The Senate passed a House bill that would empower any Class 2 municipality (Mobile) to authorize, by municipal ordinance, the operation of low-speed vehicles upon certain city streets of the municipality under limited circumstances and conditions. As the bill was amended in the Senate, it must return to the House for action on the Senate amendment [HB230 by Representative Chris Pringle].

The Senate passed a bill that would repeal Acts 82-675 and 88-423 providing supplemental funding for certain salaries and expenses for the office of the District Attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Mobile County. The bill now goes to the House [SB289 by Senator Rusty Glover].

The Senate passed a bill that would require the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to operate a driver’s license office in each county a minimum of one day each week. The bill is now pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [SB23 by Senator Hank Sanders].

The Senate passed a bill that would authorize counties and municipalities to create an authority for the purpose of acquiring real and personal property for lease to the state as a prison facility, authorize the Department of Corrections to issue bonds up to $350 million for renovation of existing prison facilities, and pledge a portion of ad valorem and spirit taxes to secure the bonds. The bill now goes to the House [SB302 by Senator Cam Ward].

Following extended debate, the Senate carried over the Education Trust Fund Budget bill for Fiscal Year 2018 which begins October 1, 2017. The bill would level fund higher education institutions, increase K-12 funding by $46 million, and increase Pre-K funding by $15 million [SB129 by Senator Arthur Orr].

SIGNIFICANT COMMITTEE ACTION THIS WEEK:

The House Ways and Means Education Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would reestablish the income tax credit, which expired in 2016, for the rehabilitation, preservation or development of certified historic structures [HB345 by Representative Victor Gaston].

The Senate Local Legislation Mobile County Committee carried over a bill that would clarify that the costs of the office related to the acceptance of credit cards shall include information technology, equipment, and employees in Mobile County [HB143 by Representative David Sessions].

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that requires wireless communications service providers to provide location information to Law Enforcement in an emergency situation involving risk of death or serious bodily harm. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB5 by Representative Tommy Hanes].

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow the Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to employ police officers under certain conditions. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB193 by Senator Jabo Waggoner].

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would establish a comprehensive list of felonies that involve moral turpitude that will result in the loss of the right to vote. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB282 by Representative Mike Jones].

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would mandate that a defendant found guilty of murdering an on-duty law enforcement officer be given the death penalty. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB170 by Senator Gerald Dial].

The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would transfer the Marine Police Division from the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency to the Department of Conservation and National Resources. The bill now goes to the full House [HB151 by Representative Chris Sells].

The House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would authorize the Department of Revenue to issue temporary license plates for boat trailers sold out of State. The bill now goes to the full House [SB10 by Senator Bill Hightower].

The House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would authorize a municipality to rehire a retired Law Enforcement officer or firefighter at any time if authorized by local law and upon notice to the Director of the Ethics Commission. The bill now goes to the full House [HB222 by Representative Allen Treadaway].

The House State Government Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would regulate fantasy sports contests. The bill now goes to the full House [HB354 by Representative Alan Boothe].

The House Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would establish a State Board of Midwifery to license and regulate the practice of certified professional midwifery. The bill now goes to the full House [HB316 by Representative Ken Johnson].

The House Commerce and Small Business Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would require transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft) to obtain a permit from the Public Service Commission, provide fare transparency, implement a nondiscrimination policy, meet certain safety and consumer protection requirements, prohibit municipalities from imposing taxes or business licenses on companies or drivers, and authorize municipalities to prohibit the companies and drivers from operating within the corporate limits of the municipality [HB283 by Representative David Faulkner].

SIGNIFICANT INTRODUCTIONS THIS WEEK:

A bill was introduced in the House that would grant to any Class 2 municipality the authority to enact by ordinance provisions for enforcement of local and state building regulations for the maintenance of structures; provide for a judicial in rem foreclosure on non-owner occupied properties; and provide for recovery of taxpayer costs and transfer of title to property under certain circumstances. The bill is pending in the House Mobile County Legislation Committee [HB430 by Representative Barbara Drummond].

A bill was introduced in the House that would further provide for permits for shoreline restoration, including the use of living shoreline techniques, by riparian property owners in coastal areas. The bill is pending in the House State Government Committee [HB403 by Representative Randy Davis].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require all future concealed pistol permits to contain a color, laminated identification photograph. The bill is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [HB416 by Representative Rod Scott].

A bill was introduced in the House that would repeal certain restrictions on the carrying or possession of a firearm on certain property or in a motor vehicle with or without a concealed pistol permit. The bill is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [HB414 by Representative  Isaac Whorton].

A bill was introduced in the House that would allow local boards of education to adopt policies providing for the carrying of firearms by selected school personnel on school property and during school functions, allow a concealed pistol permit holder to carry a concealed pistol on the campus of an institution of higher education and would require a business entity who refuses to allow a person to carry a firearm on the business premises to adopt a policy providing for the protection of invitees. The bill is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [HB410 by Representative Mack Butler].

A bill was introduced in the House that would abolish the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA)and return law enforcement functions to the departments, divisions and other entities as they existed before the creation of ALEA. The bill is pending in the House State Government Committee [HB425 by Representative Phillip Pettus].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require the sheriff to provide feminine hygiene products for all female prisoners who are unable to provide them for themselves under certain conditions. The bill is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [HB399 by Representative Tim  Wadsworth].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would delete certain provisions for increases in the rate of a delivery license fee and to provide an exemption for taxpayers making a small amount of deliveries per year. The bill is pending in the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee [SB316 by Senator Paul Sanford].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would provide for electronic assessment and collection of tolls that would be assessed either to an account holder with the toll entity or through the transmission of license plate information by a photo-monitoring system. The bill is pending in the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee [SB320 by Senator Trip Pittman].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would provide that a municipality would be responsible for half of the housing, maintenance and medical care expenses of a child under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court if the child resides in a municipality with a specified population and to provide that the law enforcement agency in whose custody a child is initially held or detained is responsible for all transportation costs. The bill is pending in the Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [SB324 by Senator Phil Williams].

BUDGETS

BILL NO.       SPONSOR                   SUBJECT                                   STATUS
HB15           Rep. Clouse       General Fund Budget                 Passed by House; pending in Senate F & T General Fund Committee

HB17           Rep. Poole    Education Trust Fund Budget        Pending in House Ways & Means Education Committee

SB12               Sen. Orr       Education Trust Fund Budget         Carried over in Senate

SB 150          Sen. Pittman      General Fund Budget                   Pending in Senate F & TGeneral Fund

MOBILE COUNTY AND CITY BILLS INTRODUCED

BILL NO.     SPONSOR            SUBJECT                       STATUS

HB143         Rep. Sessions    To clarify that the costs of the office
related to the acceptance of credit cards shall include information technology, equipment, and employees
Carried over by Senate Local Legislation Mobile County Committee

HB185    Rep. Buskey    Relating to entertainment districts in
Class 2 municipalities; to further define the licensed premises of a holder of a retail liquor license.
Passed by both Houses; pending action by Governor

HB230    Rep. Pringle    To empower any Class 2 municipality
in the State of Alabama to authorize, by municipal ordinance, the operation of low-speed vehicles upon certain city streets of the municipality under limited circumstances and conditions.
Amended in Senate; pending action on amendment in House

HB389    Rep. Pringle    To delete the requirement that certain
sales of property and leases by the Mobile County School Board be approved by the Judge of Probate
Pending in House Mobile County Legislation Committee

HB430    Rep. Drummond    To grant to any Class 2 municipality
the authority to enact by ordinance provisions for enforcement of local and state building regulations for the maintenance of structures; provide for a judicial in rem foreclosure on non-owner occupied properties; and provide for recovery of taxpayer costs and transfer of title to property under certain circumstances.
Pending in House Mobile County Legislation Committee

SB289    Sen. Glover    To repeal Act No. 82-675, 1982 1st
Special Session, and Act No. 88-423, 1988 Regular Session, providing supplemental funding for certain salaries and expenses for the office of the District Attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Mobile County.
Passed by Senate; pending in House Mobile County Legislation Committee

MOBILE COUNTY AND CITY BILLS ADVERTISED BUT NOT YET INTRODUCED SUBJECT   ADVERTISING  DATES

To establish a separate and distinct fund within Mobile County government to be known as the 21st Century Policing and Economic Fund; to provide for dedicated revenues to the fund; and direct the expenditures for certain purposes.
1/12/17 – 2/2/17

To ensure that any Integrated Care Network in a Class 2 municipality shall include a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) which shall be an equal option for qualifying individuals in an area where PACE exists.
1/12/17 – 2/2/17

To impose an additional fine for unlawful parking in a space designated for persons with disabilities or a space where official signs prohibit parking in Mobile County; and to provide for the distribution of funds collected.
1/19/17 – 2/9/17

To establish procedures for self-recruitment and hiring by an appointing authority of the Civil Service System of Mobile County
1/26/17 – 2/16/17

To propose local amendments to the Civil Service System in Mobile County; to provide for non-elected members of the Supervisory Committee; to provide for when the Supervisory Committee meets; to provide for how notice of the Supervisory Committee meeting is advertised; to provide for the qualifications for members of the Personnel Board; to provide for Personnel Board districts; to provide for Personnel Board member compensation; to provide for definitions of disabled persons; to provide for the establishment of pay ranges; to provide for the establishment of pay for entry level employees; to provide for pay steps for promotional employees; to provide for the methods of dismissals and suspensions of employees; to provide for the Personnel Board receiving legal services; to provide for the Personnel Board being a party in court proceedings.
2/9/17 – 3/2/17

Relating to Mobile County and the countywide civil service system; to amend Act No. 470 of the 1939 Regular Session (Acts 1939, p. 298), as amended, which established the countywide civil service system; by amending Section XI relating to the pay plan; to remove public safety employees from the exception to hiring at midrange to allow all professional and technical classes of positions to be treated equally.
3/9/17 – 3/30/17

MOBILE COUNTY AND CITY BILLS ADVERTISED BUT NOT YET INTRODUCED SUBJECT   ADVERTISING  DATES

Relating to Class 2 municipalities; to prohibit the State Department of Public Health from regulating or requiring a permit for intermittent food service establishments that otherwise do not prepare, sell, or distribute food in its regular line of business when that food service establishment prepares or distributes food in association with a regional celebratory event or custom.
3/16/17 – 4/6/17

SUMMARY STATISTICS

HOUSE BILLS    SENATE BILLS    TOTALS
Bills Introduced    438    336    774

Bills which have passed house of origin    11    89    200
Bills which have passed both houses    36    10    46
Bills which are pending Governor’s signature    10    4    14
Bills which have been vetoed    0    0    0
Constitutional Amendment Bills pending referendum    1    0    1
Bills enacted    25    6    31

 

Article provided by Beth Marietta Lyons, Lyons Law Firm.

 

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In Case You Missed It

House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

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Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”

Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.

 

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In Case You Missed It

Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

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Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.

The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

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In Case You Missed It

Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

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Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.

Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

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Alabama Legislative Report

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