Senate committee approves bill to allow display of Ten Commandments on public property

February 9, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

An Alabama Senate committee approved a bill Thursday that will allow for the public display of the Ten Commandments on public property including government building grounds and public schools.

The bill, by Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, received a unanimous vote from the Senate Constitution, Ethics and Elections committee after Democrats pushed for an amendment to allow for the placement of other religious displays that express faith or religious belief.

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Senate approves bill intended expand rural broadband access

February 5, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama Senate on Thursday approved a bill intended to expand rural access to highspeed broadband internet.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, aims to expand private investment in broadband infrastructure by providing tax incentives to telecommunications and cable companies that invest in rural areas.

Senate Bill 149, the Alabama Rural Broadband Act, was a component of the Senate Republicans’ agenda.

“In the 1930s the infrastructure challenge was electricity, and in the 60s and 70s it was ensuring rural areas had clean drinking water,” Scofield said. “Expanding access to broadband internet is the infrastructure challenge of our day. We must ensure that all Alabamians have an opportunity to succeed in the digital economy. Currently, thousands of families and businesses in rural Alabama are without access to fast broadband. That’s unconscionable.”

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Ride-sharing bill approved in the House, but it will need a second vote in the Senate

January 31, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill that could potentially take ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft statewide.

The House approved the bipartisan bill overwhelmingly, 97–3, after hours of debate led to a Democratic amendment, which adds more specific non-discrimination rules for the companies.

The bill would transfer regulation of ride-hailing companies, dubbed transportation networking companies in the bill, from the local level to the state level, enabling the companies to operate statewide if the bill is approved by the Legislature and signed into law.

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Small income tax break gets Senate approval

January 26, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama Senate approved a small income tax break Thursday.

Part of the Republican agenda, the break would increase the adjusted gross income range for the largest standard income tax deduction, meaning some families will have a smaller tax burden next year.

“We finally have some dollars to deal with the needs of the state,” said President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, who sponsored the tax cut. “The working class men and women of this state will benefit. No high-income benefit from this. It’s all strictly working people of the state of Alabama.”

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Senators approve bipartisan bill that would take Uber, Lyft statewide

January 26, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

Senators approved a bill unanimously Thursday that would move regulations of ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber from the local level to the state level, potentially allowing the companies to operate statewide.

The bill, SB143, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, and President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, still needs to be approved by the House but received wide bipartisan support in the Legislature’s upper chamber and the endorsement of the governor.

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Senate support for Poarch Creek legal fix in jeopardy

January 23, 2018

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

On Friday, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians celebrated a short victory when the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Land Reaffirmation Act that addresses a legal technicality that potentially jeopardized the tribe’s reservation status.

However, over the weekend, the Alabama Political Reporter confirmed that Alabama’s Republican Senior U.S. Senator Richard Shelby would not support the measure in the Senate, effectively dooming the legislation, according to highly-placed sources on The Hill.

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Legislature passes prison bond bill

March 2, 2017

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, legislation issuing a bond to fund prisons passed the Alabama Legislature and was sent to the Governor for his signature. But, the Thursday I’m referring to was April 22, 2010. The Governor was Bob Riley, the Speaker of the House was Seth Hammett, and the sponsor of the bill was Lowell Baron.

On the last day of the 2010 Regular Session, SB473 was approved by both the House and the Senate and sent to Governor Riley for his signature. The bill approved a bond to raise $50 million in funds for the purchase and renovation of the Perry County Correctional Facility, as well as any additional facilities where increased beds space was needed.
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Regional Care Organizations Collapsing

October 27, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The promised dream of Regional Care Organizations (RCOs) saving the State’s underfunded and overburdened Medicaid system continues to unravel.

Just recently, the University of Birmingham Medical Systems and Viva Heath Inc., abandoned their programs indefinitely, citing the instability of State funding.

Last month, The Alabama Political Reporter obtained a letter from Mike Warren, President and CEO of Children of Alabama, to Medicaid Agency Commissioner Stephanie Azar in which he detailed the failure of the RCO plan adopted by Gov. Robert Bentley (which was approved by the State Legislature). In it, Warren offers a withering critique of the programs including the false promise of cost savings under the RCO model. “The numbers are frightening,” Warren writes. “RCOs will actually cost the State’s General Fund a substantial amount more than keeping the current program funded.”
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Senate To Continue Debate BP Bill

September 6, 2016

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—As the Senate gathers this week, using BP Settlement monies to pay back the State’s debts and assist in the Medicaid crisis will again be up for debate.

HB36, sponsored by House Ways and Means General Fund Chairman Representative Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) has already been approved by the House with a vote of 91-10. It passed out of Senate Committee late last month and was introduced on the floor. The bill creates an Economic Settlement Authority to issue $639 million in bonds payable by the BP Settlement funds. The bill would pay back $161 million borrowed in 2009 and $437 million from the Alabama Trust Fund borrowed in 2013 of which the State still owes $422 million. Both debts were incurred because of deficits in previous General Fund Budgets.
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Lottery Substitute Changes Language

August 25, 2016

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—A substitute to lottery bill SB3 was approved by the House Tourism and Marketing Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

SEE BILL

When SB3 was voted on by the full Senate this week, the language did not completely reflect all of the amendments that had be agreed upon and mainly related to where the proceeds would be distributed.

A substitute was accepted at the beginning of the meeting incorporating all of the amended changes made in the Senate that failed to make it into the final draft.
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