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Republican primary field for State Senate is set

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Major party qualifying ended on Friday. February 9 and there were a number of late changes in the state Senate slates, most notably Senator Slade Blackwell’s decision to pull out of his senate re-election race to pursue the governor’s office.

The Senate is currently composed of 26 Republicans, seven Democrats, and one independent.  Senate District 26, which was held by Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, is currently vacant.

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Incumbent GOP Senators Melson, Orr, Reed, Scofield, McClendon, Ward, Waggoner, Shelnutt, Albritton, Whatley, Chambliss, and Holley all are running unopposed in their Republican primaries.

GOP incumbents Chambliss, Albritton, Orr, Reed, Shelnutt, and Scofield do not have a major party opponent in either the primary or the general election.

Incumbent GOP Senators Bussman, Stutts, Marsh, Livingston, and Allen are all running again but face GOP primary opposition.

Incumbent GOP Senators Holtzclaw, Hightower, Dial, Glover, Blackwell, Williams, Sanford, Pittman, and Brewbaker are all leaving the Senate.

  • In District 1, Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, is seeking re-election.
  • In District 2, Tom Butler is running against Steve Smith. Former Senator Tom Butler has changed to the Republican party and is running for his old seat.  Incumbent Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, is retiring from politics after two terms.
  • In District 3, incumbent Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, is seeking re-election.
  • In District 4, Garlan Gudger is challenging incumbent Senator Paul Bussman, R-Cullman.
  • In District 5, Senate Majority Leader Greg J. Reed, R-Jasper, is running for another term.
  • In District 6, Senator Larry Stutts, R-Sheffield, is being challenged by: Eric Aycock, Daniel H. Boman, and Steve Lolley.  Dr. Stutts narrowly unseated longtime incumbent Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, in 2014.
  • In District 7, Alabama Republican Party Vice-Chair Sam Givhan is running against Alabama School Board Member Mary Scott Hunter for the seat incumbent Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, is vacating.
  • In District 8, incumbent Senator Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, is being challenged by Max D. Fuller.
  • In District 9, incumbent Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, is running for re-election.
  • In District 10, State Representative Mack N. Butler, R-Rainbow City, and Andrew Jones are competing for this open seat. Incumbent Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, is not seeking another term.
  • In Senate District 11, Senator Jim McClendon, R-Springville, is running for his second term in the Alabama Senate.
  • In District 12, Senate President Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is facing challenger Wayne Willis.
  • In Senate District 13, long time incumbent Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, is retiring from the Senate to run for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.  Randy Price, Mike Sparks, and Tim Sprayberry are all three running for this open seat.
  • In District 14, incumbent Senator Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, is running for another term in the Senate.
  • In District 15, Miranda Carter and Dan Roberts are running for this open seat.  Incumbent Sen. Slade Blackwell, R-Mountain Brook, is leaving the Senate to run for governor.
  • In Senate District 16, incumbent Sen. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, R-Vestavia, is running for another term.  Waggoner has served in the legislature for over 50 years.
  • In District 17 incumbent Senator Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, is running for his second term.
  • In District 18 no Republican is running for the seat currently held by Senator Roger Smitherman, D-Birmingham.
  • District 19 no Republican is challenging for the seat currently held by Sen. Priscilla Dunn, D-Bessemer.
  • In District 20 there is no Republican challenging incumbent Senator Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham.   Districts 18, 19, and 20 are majority minority districts.
  • In District 21 Frank Chandler Jr. is running against incumbent Senator Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa.
  • In District 22 incumbent Senator Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, is running for another term.
  • In District 23 no Republican is running for the seat currently held by Senator Hank Sanders, D-Selma.
  • In District 24 no Republican is running for the seat currently held by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro.
  • In District 25 Will Barfoot and Ronda McCaul Walker are running for this open seat.  Incumbent Senator Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, is not seeking another term.
  • In District 26 D.J. Johnson is running for this vacant seat.  Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, vacated the seat to become the President of Alabama State University.  Districts 23, 24, and 26 are all majority minority districts.
  • In Senate District 27 incumbent Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, is seeking his third term.
  • In District 28 no Republican is running for the seat currently held by William M “Billy” Beasley, D-Clayton.  Beasley is the only White Democrat currently in the Alabama Senate.
  • In District 29 state Representative Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva, has qualified.  District 29 is currently held by Sen. Harri Anne Smith, the only independent in the Alabama Senate.  Smith told reporters that she is running again.
  • In District 30 Sen. Clyde Chambliss, Jr., R-Prattville, is seeking his second term in the Alabama Senate.
  • In District 31 incumbent Jimmy W. Holley, R-Elba, is running for another term.  This would be Holley’s sixth term in the Alabama Senate.  He has also served five terms in the Alabama House of Representatives.
  • In District 32 state Senator Lee “Trip” Pittman, R-Daphne, is not seeking re-election.  Jeff Boyd, Chris Elliott, David Northcutt, and Bill Roberts have all qualified in the Republican primary.
  • In District 33 no Republican is running for the seat currently held by Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile.  Senate District 33 is a majority minority district.
  • In District 34 Mark Shirey and State Representative Jack Williams (R-Wilmer) have both qualified for this vacant seat.  Incumbent Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, is running for the vacant Lieutenant Governor’s seat.
  • In District 35, incumbent Sen. Bill Hightower, R-Mobile, is running for Governor.  State Representative David Sessions, R-Grand Bay, is running for the open seat.

Qualifying for both major parties ends on February 9.

The major party primaries will be on June 5, 2018.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with six and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook.

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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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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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Republican primary field for State Senate is set

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