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Bill to end elections for county school superintendents to be considered by the House


The Alabama House of Representatives is considering controversial legislation that would end elections for county school superintendents.

Senate Bill 280 is sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, and is being carried in the House by state Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Gulf Shores. SB280 seeks to eliminate county school superintendent elections in more than half of the state of Alabama.

The Senate has already passed the legislation and the bill is on the proposed special order calendar in the Alabama House of Representatives for Tuesday.

Alabama Eagle Forum is opposing the bill to end free elections for superintendents.

The groups said in a statement, “SB280 is expected to come up for a vote before Thursday in the House. This legislation will have two horrible impacts on local education.  First SB280 will force over fifty percent of the Alabama counties to stop holding free elections.”

“Counties that hold elections for County Superintendent of Education will be forced to have the local board of education handpick the County Superintendent,” Eagle Forum wrote.  “SB280 removes current rights from local education leaders and parents who live in the county.”

“The second, critical impact of the SB280 is that it also removes local education rights from other counties in Alabama,” Eagle Forum said. “Counties which currently have an appointed County Superintendent will not be able to hold elections. SB280 is modeled after legislation being pushed by special interests in other states to centralize education and reduce local control. SB280 centralizes power in the hands of a few and harms our communities. All legislators should oppose SB280 since it completely removes your right to hold a local election for County Superintendent of Education, and SB280 prevents other districts from holding elections in the future.  Contact your State Representative today.”

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Members of local school boards desire more power which is why they oppose elected superintendents and instead prefer appointed superintendents whom they can fire. They have been conspiring with legislators to get more appointed superintendents for years. The city superintendents are all appointed rather than elected.

The 2018 legislative session is winding down and legislators are eager to finish up their work and go home. The two chambers have to concur on the education trust fund budget that is currently in a conference committee, and the House has to consider a measure on whether or not to give education retirees a one time bonus based on the number of years that they worked, but that is the last of their constitutional duties on the budgets. Leadership in both Houses are trying to force controversial pieces of legislation through in the remaining hours of the 2018 legislative session.

The Senate has not released a proposed special order calendar yet; but is believed to be considering a new substitute version of HB317 which exempts economic developers from the state’s 2010 ethics law. Some in the media have been critical of aspects of this legislation. Juvenile Justice Reform is believed to also be coming up on the floor. HB225 is sponsored by Rep. Jim Hill, R-Odenville, and is being carried by Senator Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. If passed it would decrease the number of juveniles being held in lockup and instead provides treatment and corrections services in local programs. The legislation is controversial with some judges and juvenile probation officers.

The House is also considering a plan that would require law enforcement to record the age, race, and ethnicity of every motorist they stop and include that in a database maintained by the Alabama Attorney General (SB84 by Senator Smitherman and Representative Coleman). That was blocked on the BIR on Thursday, but the leadership has put it back on the special order calendar.

Other bills on the House special order calendar include:

  • SB226 by Senator Sanford and Representative Mooney dealing with the lodging tax
  • SB246 by Senator Dial and Representative Sells revising the process to authorizing criminal background checks for EMS personnel
  • SB116 by Senator Sanders and Representative Jack Williams (R-Vestavia) terminates the parental rights of a parent who create their child in the act of rape
  • SB42 by Senator Ward and Representative Fridy deals with Class 8 municipalities, weeds, abatement, and alternative procedures to declare a public nuisance after prior abatement
  • SB8 by Senator McClendon and Representative Phil Williams deals with Treasures and artifacts, cultural resources that are eligible for or listed in National Register of Historic Places, not Al. Register of Landmarks and Heritage
  • SB154 by Senator Melson and Representative England deals with municipalities, ordinances, summons and complaint in lieu of arrest
  • SB96 by Senator Dial and Representative Weaver grants investigators for the State Board of Nursing police powers
  • SB9 Senator Melson and Representative Crawford creates a lifetime state duck stamp option for waterfowl hunters (this bill was filibustered on Thursday by the Black Caucus)
  • SB92 by Senator and Orr/Representative deals with increasing the possible weekly benefit for unemployment compensation, but lowers the length of benefits from 26 weeks to 14 or 20 based on the unemployment rate in the recipient’s county of residence
  • SB160 by Senator Whatley and Representative England would allow the expungement of criminal records for youthful offenders
  • SB322 by Senator Scofield and Representative Faulkner deals with domestic violence protection orders
  • SB297 by Senator Glover and Representative Davis would exempt cottage operations producing baked goods and roasted coffees from obtaining food service permits from the health department
  • SB249 by Senator Melson and Representative Mooney would allow the members of the Advisory Board to the State Health Officer to meet by electronic means and establish rules of procedures for meetings
  • SB151 by Senator Smitherman and Representative Faulkner defines terrorist threats against schools and churches in the criminal code

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

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