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House approves warrantless trespass bill for schools

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Thursday, March 2, 2017, the Alabama House of Representatives voted in favor of House Bill 71 authorizing school principals and college administrators to call Law Enforcement to have people arrested for refusing an order by a school administrator to leave a school campus. HB71 was sponsored by State Representative Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa). This is the third year in a row that Representative Poole has carried this piece of legislation.

Rep. Poole explained that under current law if someone refuses to leave the premises of a school then that person can be charged with disorderly conduct, which is a class A misdemeanor; but has a higher standard of misconduct. Or they can be charged with trespassing, which is a class D misdemeanor; however that requires the principal or college administrator to leave the campus, go to the police station, and swear out a warrant for that person to be arrested and then Law Enforcement can go to the campus and arrest that individual if they are still there in defiance of the demand that they leave the premises. HB71 would allow Law Enforcement officers to arrest and charge someone who refused the lawful order of a school administrator to leave the premises without the school’s principal have to go through the process of getting that warrant.

State Representative Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) strenuously objected to this bill. Rep. Moore said that she was personally aware of people in Birmingham being arrested all the time simply because school officials do not like them. Moore said that school officials should not be allowed to have that much power.

HB71 passed with bipartisan support. Rep. Moore was the only “No” vote.

The bill now goes to the State Senate where is has stalled in previous Legislative sessions.

 

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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