There is already a fix to clarify and strengthen the ethics laws

February 1, 2018

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Before then Attorney General Luther Strange took his ill-fated appointment to the U.S. Senate, his office prepared legislation to clarify and strengthen existing ethics laws.

Amidst all the nascent posturing about a dire need to, “Reform and Clarify” current ethics laws, there seems to be a pretense that no such clarification exists and, therefore, the Legislature needs to do something.

One proposal is to establish a committee to make recommendations for ethics reforms before the 2019 Session is currently the preferred solution thereby stalling any reform measures while giving special interests groups sufficient time to work to muddy laws that hinder their businesses.

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Senate moves to cut back unemployment benefits

January 26, 2018

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

Those who receive unemployment benefits may soon lose that safety net much sooner under a bill approved by the Alabama State Senate Thursday.

The Senate approved a bill that would reduce the number of weeks someone can draw unemployment compensation by nearly half under current economic situations.

Under existing law, those who are unemployed can receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks.

The bill approved Thursday would cut that normal maximum back to 14 weeks if the state maintains a low unemployment rate, though the system is flexible depending on the average state unemployment rate and the rate in the county where the individual lives.

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House passes Civics Test Bill

April 25, 2017

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Legal residents seeking US citizenship have to pass a test in order to become citizens. On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to require that Alabama students pass a similar test in order to become Alabama High School graduates.

Senate Bill 32 by state Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) would require that students pass a civics test. SB32 was carried in the Alabama House by state Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur).
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Bill authorizing reallocation of judgeships approved by the Legislature

March 1, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — A State authority may begin shuffling circuit and district judgeships soon following a vote by the House of Representatives Tuesday.

A bill that would authorize a new commission to reallocate circuit and district judgeships based on need, which legislators hope will alleviate caseload pressure on some circuit and district courts, passed the House Tuesday and will now head to the Governor for approval.

The House approved the bill by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, 77-15 after several hours of debate. The bill would give a newly established Judicial Resource Allocation Commission the authority to realign distribution of circuit and district judgeships.

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Six person jury bill receives favorable report by Judiciary Committee

February 27, 2017

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, February 22, 2017, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow many Alabama Court proceedingss to have just six person juries rather than the traditional 12 person jury trials.

Senate Bill 197 was sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). Orr said that the measure would save the state $252,000 per year. Sen. Orr said that his bill would allow the six person jury trials in misdemeanor and civil trials for matters below a certain amount. Orr said that this is done in a lot of states.
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Bill to reallocate judges based on need passes the Alabama Senate

February 15, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — A bill that would give an authority power to reallocate judges based on demonstrated need, which senators hope will alleviate pressures in some circuits and districts, cleared the Alabama Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 90, passed without any debate, would give the Judicial Resource Allocation Commission the authority to realign distribution of circuit and district judges.

“Right now, we’re operating with an antiquated allocation system that dates back to the 1970s, and obviously the state population has shifted over the past 40 years,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, the bill’s sponsor. “This proposal would establish a non-partisan commission, and as judgeships become open, there will be an evaluation process to place new judges where they are most needed.”

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Legislators consider “new” budgeting methods

February 1, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The regular legislative session of the Alabama Legislature is set to convene in less than two weeks, but legislators are already considering another change to the State’s budgeting models in both the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund.

On Tuesday, members of the House and Senate General Fund and Education Trust Fund budget committees met in Montgomery to hear pitches for two different types of budgeting models: evidence-based budgeting for the General Fund and outcome-based budgeting for the Education Trust Fund.

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Alvin Holmes should get Sessions’ seat … sort of

December 27, 2016

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

There’s a standard practice in the news business around this time of year.

Cheap hits.

That’s right. We have families and holiday parties and dinners and gift-openings too. And we have to fit it in around still producing content that draws eyeballs to webpages.

So, we need a few stories and columns that are easy to churn out but that still hook readers.

The best in the biz at mailing are the guys who cover sports. And one of their most effective methods is rankings.
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Bentley Signs Bill Banning Kratom

May 12, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, May 10, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed legislation that would add Kratom to the banned substances list. Senate Bill 226 was sponsored by State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). State Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) carried the bill in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Representative Butler said in a statement, “Today with the stroke of a pen, Governor Bentley added Alabama to the growing number of states that have banned Kratom. I was proud to have carried this bill in the Alabama House of Representatives and I was also proud to help the Etowah County DEU and Sheriff’s Office tonight with the confiscation in our county. Sheriff Entrekin had his teams in place and ready to move the minute SB226 was signed.”
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Senate Passes Teacher Pay Raise with Amendments

April 14, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, April 13, the Alabama Senate approved a cost of living adjustment for teachers and education employees when it passed HB21 sponsored by Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa).

The House bill was heavily amended in the Senate.

Senate Finance & Taxation Education Committee Chairman Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) amended the bill to include principals and assistant principals in the four percent raise. “They are the backbone of the schools,” Orr said. The bill that came from the House gave a four percent raise to all education employees making $75,000 or less. That would have included virtually all teachers since the pay scale for teachers had maxed out at $62,000. Employees making more than $75,000 were limited to two percent raises. Many principals are in this category. Orr’s amendment would give all principals and assistant principals the full four percent raise no matter what they earn now. Orr estimated that the cost of the principal raises would be $4 million.
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