Governor may consider a Special Session over prison construction

May 22, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — Governor Kay Ivey may already be considering calling a Special Session to give lawmakers time to address one issue that didn’t make it the 2017 Legislative Session this year: prison construction.

At a press conference Friday, Ivey said she would consider calling a Special Session if Sen. Cam Ward’s prison construction bill didn’t make it through. It didn’t.

“The judge, Judge Thompson, is going to be ruling in the next few days and weeks, making his rulings and findings. Certainly, we are going to examine those things and see what he recommends and what that order contains,” Ivey said. “At the same time, calling a special session may very well be an option because we’ve got to meet the needs of the State and the needs the judge outlines.”

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$845 million prison construction bill dead for Session, sponsor says

May 18, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — The plan to build four new “mega” prisons at a cost of up to $845 million is dead for this Legislative Session, the bill’s sponsor confirmed to the Alabama Political Reporter.

With the Legislative Session hastening to an end and only a few meaningful hours left to pass anything, the bill hit a brick wall in the House, which has been held hostage by on-and-off Democratic filibusters for the past week. Commotion over an email black lawmakers found offensive Tuesday also lessened the bill’s chances of getting to the floor for a vote.

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Senate approves toned-down prison construction bill

March 17, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Robert Bentley’s priority legislation for the 2017 legislative session has made it through the Alabama Senate, but only an outline of the original plan remains in place.

The Senate on Thursday passed a toned-down version of Bentley’s Prison Transformation Initiative — an ambitious, albeit controversial plan to reform the landscape of Alabama correctional facilities by consolidating almost all of the men’s prisons into three “mega-prisons.”

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Prison Bill compromise would reduce number of new prisons

March 9, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — A toned-down version of the bill authorizing the construction of several new prisons with a bond issue is expected to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, the bill’s sponsor said.

The new plan, shepherded by Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) who has been the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, would reduce the number of new prisons from four to three.

The original plan included three 4,000-bed men’s prisons and a smaller women’s prison at a maximum price of $800 million, which would have been financed through a bond issue.

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General Fund uncertainty may hinder more criminal justice appropriations

January 26, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The Alabama Medicaid Agency isn’t the only part of the State government with funding issues, and uncertainty over the future of Medicaid is spilling over into other agencies’ funding as well.

The Alabama Legislature will begin its regular legislative session in just a few weeks. As lawmakers prepare, the session will bring another stint of debate over the State’s beleaguered General Fund budget, the budget that funds all noneducational agencies of the State government.

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Zeigler opposes $800 million no-bid contract to build prisons

November 21, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Politcal Reporter

Thursday, November 17, 2016, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) said that he opposes Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s (R) plan to borrow $800 million or more to build new prisons in an anticipated January special session.

Auditor Zeigler said, “Gov. Bentley is threatening a $400,000 special session to push his $800 million no-bid contract for four mega-prisons at sites he selects. It would indebt Alabama taxpayers for 30 years. I am almost finished with “Plan Z”, a common sense alternative that would cost 75% less and not allow the Bentley cronies to control this huge contract.”
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Justice Department Launches Investigation into Alabama Prison System

October 7, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, October 6, 2016, the US Justice Department opened an investigation into Alabama’s overcrowded and underfunded Department of Corrections. Governor Robert Bentley said that he welcomed the investigation.

Gov. Bentley said in a statement, “I welcome an investigation by the Department of Justice into Alabama’s prisons. We both share a common goal of wanting to improve the safety of the officers and inmates within the facilities. I have personally met with representatives from the Department of Justice, and following those meetings the Alabama Department of Corrections made several critical changes to Tutwiler Prison for Women. I have also had the opportunity to personally meet in Washington DC with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and discuss the issue of overcrowding in Alabama and across the country. I shared with Attorney General Lynch the Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative announced earlier this year. This plan includes modern prisons that will reduce overcrowding and improve safety conditions for inmates and corrections officers.”
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Sine Die! – “with all deliberate speed”

May 13, 2016

By Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey

When I struck the gavel for the Senate to adjourn Sine Die at midnight on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, the Senate completed its 30th and final legislative day of the 2016 Regular Session. Sine Die is a Latin phrase meaning “without day” that is, without designating the next day the legislature will meet; it is the final adjournment of a legislative session.

On the last day of the Session, my day began at 8:30 a.m. when I participated in a Legislative Council meeting.  Nearly 16 hours later, “with all deliberate speed,” the Legislature had completed its statutory requirement to meet 30 legislative days during 105 calendar days.
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Bentley Wants His Prisons

May 10, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In an Op-Ed at al.com, Gov. Robert Bentley signaled, that he may call a Special Session to try, once again, to pass an $800 million prison construction project. Bentley said, the massive spending project failed because, “We simply ran out of time in this Regular Legislative Session to finally address Alabama’s prison overcrowding problem.” He also wrote, “That legislation failed in the final minutes of this session. But that doesn’t mean we won’t reach that goal.”
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