The Alabama Legislature adjourned the annual Regular Session Sine Die on Thursday, March 29 on the 26th Day of the Session. Unless there is a Special Session called by the Governor, the Legislature will convene for its annual 2019 Regular Session on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. As the next quadrennium begins after the General Elections in November, the Legislature will hold an Organizational Session in January to organize, elect leadership positions, and make all committee appointments.
On the final day of the Session, both Houses honored, by resolution and accolades, members who are not returning for the next quadrennium, either because of retirement or candidacy for another office. Eleven of the 35 Senators are not returning, including Mobile County Senators Rusty Glover and Bill Hightower and Baldwin County Senator Trip Pittman. Twenty-four members of the 105 House of Representatives are not returning which includes Mobile area Representatives James Buskey and Randy Davis as well as Representatives Jack (JW) Williams and David Sessions who are not seeking re-election but running for the Senate.
During the 2018 Regular Session, there were 168 bills enacted and 141 bill await the Governors signature. There were a total of 922 bills introduced during the Regular Session.
Bills passed in the last 5 days of the Session have 10 days from the date of adjournment to be signed by the Governor or they receive Pocket Vetoes.
SIGNIFICANT BILLS PASSED DURING THE LAST WEEK:
The Education Trust Fund Budget which includes funds for a 2.5% increase for K-12 employees, 197 additional middle school teachers, a $18 million increase for Pre-K, a $16 million increase for community colleges, a $27 million increase for 4 year colleges, and a $450,000 increase for public libraries [HB175 by Representative Bill Poole].
A Senate bill that would continue the existence and function of the State Pilotage Commission and increase the membership from 3 to 4 with the 4th member to be advisory only and appointed by the Governor from a list of nominations by the Chair of the Alabama State Port Authority Board [SB222 by Senator Trip Pittman].
A House bill that would revise notification and confidentiality provisions governing certain economic incentives provided for by law and would clarity what incentives are subject to the notification requirements [HB317 by Representative Ken Johnson].
A House bill that would allow an out-of-state vendor participating in the Simplified Sales and Use Tax Remittance Program (SSUT) to continue to participate in the Program if a physical presence in the state is established through the acquisition of an in-state company, provide that the transaction is subject to sales tax if completed at a retail establishment, and provide that the eligible seller also includes sales through a marketplace facilitator [HB470 by Representative Rod Scott].
A Senate bill that would further provide for persons charged with driving under the influence and the installation of ignition interlock devices [SB301 by Senator Paul Bussman].
A Senate bill that would require persons approved for a pretrial diversion program to have an ignition interlock device installed for a certain period of time and provide for distribution of court fees [SB1 by Senator Jim McClendon].
A House bill that would authorize the Alabama Department of Corrections to establish a pilot program to provide bonuses to assist in correctional officer retention [HB226 by Representative Jim Hill].
A Senate bill that would allow qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry firearms in certain designated places where firearms are otherwise not allowed [SB27 by Senator Jimmy Holley].
A Senate bill that would require certain entities to provide notice to certain persons upon a breach of security that results in the unauthorized acquisition of sensitive personally identifying information [SB318 by Senator Arthur Orr].
A House bill that would create an exception that would allow the surviving spouse of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, rescue squad member, or certain volunteer firefighters, killed in the line of duty to continue to receive benefits after remarriage, and extend the benefits for minor children [HB192 by Representative Matt Fridy].
A House bill that would exempt the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo from payment of state, county, and municipal sales and use taxes related to capital expenditures for four years [HB118 by Representative Steve McMillan].
Two House bills that would extend the nursing facility privilege assessment and private hospital assessment that help fund Medicaid for a period of 1 year [HB321 and HB322 by Representative Steve Clouse].
A Senate bill that would add Fentanyl and synthetic Fentanyl analogues to Schedule I of the controlled substances list and provide criminal penalties for trafficking of these drugs [SB39 by Senator Cam Ward].
A Senate bill that would revise the state Ethics Law regarding minor violations and revise the manner in which a criminal investigation may be initiated by the State Ethics Commission [SB267 by Senator Cam Ward].
A House bill that would revise the tax lien sale procedures for counties to authorize tax liens to be sold at auction to the bidder with the lowest interest rate [HB354 by Representative Corey Ellis].
A Senate bill that would provide that a party desiring to redeem property sold to the state for unpaid taxes would pay interest only on the taxes due at the time of default [SB257 by Senator Hank Sanders].
SIGNIFICANT BILLS WHICH FAILED THIS SESSION:
A Senate bill that would require county and municipal police departments and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to adopt written policies to prohibit racial profiling, compile statistic on traffic stops and file reports with the Office of the Attorney General [SB84 by Senator Rodger Smitherman].
A House bill that would authorize certain persons employed by a state or local board of education to carry a firearm on school premises [HB435 by Representative Will Ainsworth].
Two bills that would have further regulated assault weapons [HB434 by Juandalynn Givan and HB472 by Representative Mary Moore].
A House bill that would allow the taking of whitetail deer or feral swine by means of bait with a baiting privilege license from the Department of conservation and Natural Resources [HB21 by Representative Jack (JW) Williams].
A House bill that would provide that a person is not criminally liable for using physical or deadly force in self-defense or in the defense of another on the premises of a church [HB34 by Representative Lynn Greer].
A House bill that would require a person seeking public office through a write-in candidacy to file a statement with voting officials in order for the write-in votes to be counted [HB241 by Representative Ron Johnson].
A House bill that would make genital mutilation of a female under the age of 19 a Class D felony [HB284 by Representative Connie Rowe].
A House bill that would prohibit the possession or sale of sky lanterns [HB325 by Representative Ron Johnson].
A House bill that would require all principal campaign committees and political action committees that meet the threshold for filing campaign finance reports to file the reports electronically with the Secretary of State [HB346 by Representative Corey Harbison].
A House bill that would create the Alabama Task Force on School Safety and Security and would authorize the task force to annually study the current educational and safety laws, rules, and policies of the state in order to assist the Legislature in making effective changes to protect and benefit the citizens of the state [HB447 by Representative Terri Collins].
A Senate bill that would provide for the voluntary transfer of a case from municipal court to the county district or circuit court when the defendant qualifies for a pretrial diversion program, mental health court, veteran court or similar program [SB37 by Senator Cam Ward].
A proposed Constitutional Amendment that would remove the Lt. Governor as the president of the Senate, and provide that the sole duty of the Lt. Governor would be to succeed the Governor upon removal from office [SB88 by Senator Gerald Dial].
A Senate bill that would add roasted coffees to the list of in-home cottage food production that are exempt from regulation by the State Department of Health and county health departments [SB297 by Senator Rusty Glover].
A Senate bill that would add a manufacturers license that conducts tastings or samplings to the types of alcoholic beverage licenses in an area where a municipality seeks to establish an entertainment district [SB339 by Senator Rodger Smitherman].
A Senate bill that would require a county, municipality or local school board entering a bond financing agreement to include a schedule of all of their debt obligations for the time span of the maturity of the debt obligation [SB364 by Senator Arthur Orr].
A House bill that would require the Governor to appoint a person to fill a vacancy in the US Senate and schedule an election at the next regularly scheduled General Election instead of calling a Special Election [HB17 by Representative Steve Clouse].
A House bill that would substantially overhaul the Juvenile Justice System, and provide for community-based treatment centers for certain low-level offenders [HB225 by Representative Jim Hill].
A House bill that would allow a local employer participating in the Employees’ Retirement System to provide the same retirement benefits given to Tier I plan members to its Tier II plan members [HB344 by Representative Nathaniel Ledbetter].
A Senate bill that would abolish the requirement that a marriage license be issued by the judge of probate; instead the marriage would be entered into by contract which would be recorded with the judge of probate following execution [SB13 by Senator Greg Albritton].
A Senate bill that would extend, until 2022, income tax credits for homeowners and businesses who participate in neighborhood revitalization projects through Neighborhood Infrastructure Authorities [SB49 by Senator Trip Pittman].
A Senate bill that would decrease the maximum amount of unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 14 weeks [SB92 by Senator Arthur Orr].
A Senate bill that would allow a municipality to authorize law enforcement officers to issue a summons and complaint in lieu of custodial arrest for all misdemeanors and violations, with certain exceptions [SB154 by Senator Tim Melson].
SIGNIFICANT BILLS ENACTED:
HB347 to establish the regulatory authority for the Mobile County Health Department to regulate intermittent food service establishments that prepare food in association with a temporary exempt event that is a regional celebration, tradition, or cultural event designated as such by Mobile County, if the intermittent food service establishment does not prepare, sell, or distribute food on a regular basis in its regular line of business
SB76 to expand the adjusted gross income range allowable for a maximum standard deduction for Alabama individual income tax purposes
HB279 to remove the requirement for homeowners to submit copies of construction records in order to receive an insurance premium discount for meeting certain construction standards making a home resistant to strong winds if the property is certified by the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) and evidence of that certification is submitted
SB175 to make a $30 million supplemental appropriation for the Department of Corrections
SB258 to require commercial food service establishments that utilize grease traps to provide locking manhole covers or otherwise secure the covers against unauthorized access. The bill returned to the Senate for action on the House amendments which were approved
HB228 to permit, but not mandate, the use of the national motto “In God We Trust” by government agencies and offices, in and on public buildings, including government office buildings, public school classrooms, and on vehicles
SB15, a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would require that if a vacancy in the Alabama House or Senate occurs on or after October 1 of the third year of a quadrennium the seat would remain vacant until the next succeeding general election
HB76 to provide oversight of currently license exempt faith-based child care facilities
SB100 to establish the Alabama Infrastructure Bank to provide for the appropriation and pledge of certain tax revenues, motor vehicle license taxes and registration fees, diesel fuel tax revenues, and motor carrier tax revenues
SB185 to authorize a 3% cost-of-living increase for state employees
SB272 to allow capital defendants to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection is unavailable or the defendant so chooses
SB215 to allow certain retirees under the Employees’ Retirement System to receive a one-time lump-sum bonus to their retirement allowances
HB174 to give a cost-of-living increase of 2.5% to public education employees
SB148 to authorize a county to use warrant funds on public facilities owned by a municipality located within the county
SB38 to authorize former or retired probate judges meeting specified requirements to serve as private judges in probate cases that are removed to circuit court
SB352 to increase the amount a licensed manufacturer of liquor may sell at retail for off-premises consumption from 750 milliliters per day to 4.5 liters per day. The bill returned to the Senate for action on the House substitute which was approved
SB181, a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would allow displays of the Ten Commandments or other religious displays on state property including public schools
SB222 to continue the existence and function of the State Pilotage Commission and increase the membership from 3 to 4 with the 4th member to be advisory only and appointed by the Governor from a list of nominations by the Chair of the Alabama State Port Authority Board
SB113 to prohibit a sheriff from placing conditions or requirements on the issuance of a pistol permit unless expressly provided by law
HB107 to provide that a business license is not required for a person traveling through a municipality on business if the person is not operating a branch office or doing business in the municipality
HB302 to provide for the regulation of tagging of oysters and require an annual oyster aquaculture license
HB457 to further provide auditing procedures for pharmacy records and would limit recoupment for certain errors by a pharmacy
HB376 to authorize the State Fire Marshal to regulate and issue pyrotechnic display operator licenses and pyrotechnic special effects operator licenses to persons who provide fireworks displays, pyrotechnics, and related special effects to an audience
HB194 to require the Department of Public Health to establish a form for an Order for Pediatric Palliative and End of Life Care to be used by medical professionals outlining medical care provided to a minor with a terminal illness
HB298 to require the Department of Revenue to develop and make available a single point of filing and payment system for county and municipal motor fuel taxes
HB334 to authorize the Local Government Health Insurance Board to adopt terms and conditions necessary to administer the payment of health care services on behalf of employer participants in the Local Government Health Insurance Program whose eligible employees or officials suffer on-the-job injury
HB494 o re-authorize certain sales and property tax abatements for data processing centers for an additional five year period
During a ceremony right before adjournment, the Alabama House presented the “Shroud Award” to Representative Ritchie Whorton from Scottsboro. This award is given each year to the member of the House who has the “deadest” House of Representatives bill during the Session. The award is a black funeral suit mounted on cardboard and accompanied with a witty resolution naming the recipient as well as the runners-up. The legislation, which resulted in this award for Representative Whorton, would have required operators of vehicles to use lighted headlamps from sunset to sunrise instead of from a half hour after sunset to a half our before sunrise. Runners-up were Representative Rolanda Hollis of Birmingham for her bills to regulate micorblading and eyelash extension facilities, Representative Jack Williams of Birmingham for his bill to establish the Association of Former Members of the Alabama Legislature, and Representative Mark Tuggle of Alexander City for his bill to levy a fee in lieu of property taxes on lands owned by Forever Wild.
- Bill introduced: 922
- Bills which passed house of origin: 448
- Bills which passed both houses: 324
- Bills which are pending the governor’s signature: 141
- Bills which have been vetoed: 0
- Constitutional amendment bills pending referendum: 15
- Bills enacted: 168
New unemployment claims continued dropping last week
There were 8,679 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, slightly fewer than the 8,848 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.
Of the claims filed between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19, 4,465, or 51 percent, were related to COVID-19. That’s the same percentage as the previous week.
Unemployment benefits could change for some Alabamians
ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3.
Some Alabamians receiving unemployment benefits could see changes in those benefits after the Alabama Department of Labor conducts a required quarterly review and redetermines eligibility, the department said Friday.
The Alabama Department of Labor said in a press release Friday that no action is required by those receiving regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
ADOL will begin the review when the current quarter ends on Oct. 3.
“Some may remain eligible for PUA or PEUC, OR they may be required to change to regular unemployment compensation. Weekly benefit amounts may also change. This depends on eligibility requirements,” ADOL said in the release. “Those claimants whose benefit year ends prior to October 3, 2020, will have their claims reevaluated.”
After the review, if the claimant is determined not to be eligible for regular unemployment compensation, those who qualify may still be able to be paid under PUA or PEUC, and that determination will be made automatically and payment will be issued, the department said in the release.
Claimants must also continue to certify their weeks.
Many claimants are not receiving benefits because they fail to file their weekly certifications, i.e. requests for payment. ADOL cannot pay benefits for weeks that have not been properly certified. Certifications can be done online at labor.alabama.gov or by calling the appropriate number:
- Montgomery – (334) 954-4094
- Birmingham – (205) 458-2282
- Not in Local Area – (800) 752-7389
PUA recipients must file their weekly certifications either by telephone or on the PUA app, at pua.labor.alabama.gov.
Alabama Republicans praise President Trump’s SCOTUS nomination
“The confirmation process is already proving to be another brutal fight, but I am certain that this is the job for a strong, conservative woman,” Ivey said.
President Donald Trump on Saturday nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court, and, if confirmed, Barrett would fill the vacancy created by the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump’s nomination of Barrett was met with near universal praise among Alabama Republicans including Gov. Kay Ivey and a number of other elected officials.
“I commend President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Judge Barrett will be focused on interpreting the law, being an arbiter and not a lawmaker, as the Supreme Court demands of its justices,” Ivey said. “Based on her proven career and background, I am confident that Judge Barrett will be articulate and a fair supporter of issues important to Alabamians such as protecting the unborn and our Second Amendment rights, while applying the law impartially.”
Barrett has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since 2017. Before becoming a judge, she was a law professor at Notre Dame Law School and previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Ivey said Barrett will embody the precedent established by Ginsburg and further prove that a woman can be a wife, a mother, a person of faith and hold strong personal convictions while still effectively performing the duties required of a justice.
“The confirmation process is already proving to be another brutal fight, but I am certain that this is the job for a strong, conservative woman,” Ivey said. “The people of Alabama overwhelmingly supported President Trump in 2016, and I commend him for performing his constitutional duty of nominating to the Supreme Court and getting the job done that we elected him to do. The late Justice Ginsburg herself noted that even in an election year, ‘a president doesn’t stop being president.’”
Before her death, Ginsburg reportedly made a request that her replacement not be nominated or confirmed until a “new president is installed.” Last week, Ginsburg became the first woman and the first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
“I eagerly anticipate Judge Barrett’s confirmation, and I look forward to continuing to forge a strong relationship between President Trump and the state of Alabama during his next term,” said Ivey.
Democratic Senators, though they do not appear to have the votes to stop Barrett’s nomination, are vociferously opposed to confirming a new justice before the Nov. 3 election determines whether Trump will serve as second term.
Democrats point to what they say is the hypocritical position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to hold hearings or a vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, in 2016.
All but two Republican senators appear prepared to vote for Barrett’s confirmation, all but assuring her a seat on the court and solidifying a 6-3 conservative majority.
“I am extremely pleased with President Trump’s selection in nominating Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama. “From her clerkship for the late Justice Scalia to her tenure on the 7th Circuit, Judge Barrett has had a distinguished career and has proven her commitment to the rule of law. Our next Supreme Court Justice must be a steadfast supporter of upholding our nation’s Constitution. I have no doubt in Judge Barrett’s qualifications, and I look forward to supporting her nomination.”
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, has said he will not vote for any nominee until the results of the Nov. 3 election are decided.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan:
“President Trump has nominated a superior candidate for our nation’s highest court. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a solid constitutional jurist who has distinguished herself both on the bench during her time on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, in academia as a law professor at the University Notre Dame and as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia,” Lathan said. “Judge Barrett’s focus on following the Constitution is apparent in her opinions, in cases ranging from the 2nd Amendment to immigration. Even three Democrat Senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Joe Donnelly crossed party lines in 2017 to support her first nomination to the bench.”
“A mother of seven, including two adopted children from Haiti, Supreme Court nominee Barrett has been called a ‘powerhouse’ constitutionalist,” Lathan continued. “Her consistent rulings on applying laws to the words of our U.S. Constitution is the exact example of what the justices are tasked with in implementing their rulings. Based on qualifications and experience alone, Judge Barrett’s nomination merits a vote by the full United States Senate.”
Congressman Gary Palmer:
“President Trump has made an excellent choice in nominating Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to her and her family,” Congressman Gary Palmer, R-Alabama, said. “Judge Barrett has a stellar record of faithfully interpreting the law, training young lawyers, producing brilliant scholarship, and upholding the Constitution. Her devotion to her family, and her dedication to her students during her years as a law professor, are also commendable. There is no question that she is highly qualified and will make a fantastic Justice. I urge the Senate to confirm her quickly.”
Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville:
“I am so excited about President Trump’s nomination today of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville. “She understands that’s it’s her job to interpret the Constitution as it’s written and not to manufacture new law from the bench. Her nomination opens the door to protecting unborn life, preserving our Second Amendment gun rights, and securing the religious freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution.”
“My opponent, Democrat Doug Jones has a very different opinion,” Tuberville continued. “He’s already announced his opposition to any candidate offered by President Donald J. Trump, and he said even meeting and listening to Judge Barrett would be useless. When it comes to giving fair consideration to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Doug Jones is a lost ball in high cotton. But that comes as no surprise. He voted against Brett Kavanaugh and said he would have opposed Neil Gorsuch if he’d been in the Senate at the time. Democrat Doug even voted twice to remove Donald J. Trump from office. Since becoming our placeholder senator, Doug Jones has opposed everything most Alabamians support and supported everything most Alabamians oppose. Instead of representing our conservative Alabama values, he’s represented the Hollywood and New York values of his high-dollar, out-of-state campaign donors.”
“There’s no telling what kind of dishonest tactics Doug Jones, Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris and the other Senate liberals will use against a woman who is imminently qualified to sit on our nation’s highest court,” Tuberville warned. “So I’ll close by asking you to join me in praying for Judge Barrett and her family as she faces what promises to be a tough and partisan confirmation hearing. With your prayers and support, America will soon have a strongly conservative Supreme Court, and Alabama will have a new senator who actually represents the citizens of this great state. May God bless Judge Barrett. May God bless President Donald Trump. And may God continue to bless the greatest nation mankind has ever known.”
Congressional candidate Barry Moore:
“I applaud the President for making this nomination now, as the Constitution mandates,” said Congressional candidate Barry Moore. “I’m confident that the Senate will also take up Judge Barrett’s nomination in a timely fashion and not delay the process until after the election. The Constitution doesn’t state anything about waiting until after an election to fill Supreme Court vacancies, despite what the Democrats want us to think.”
“I’m pleased that President Trump has chosen a strong pro-life woman for the Supreme Court,” Moore continued. “I’m also impressed by Judge Barrett’s credentials and experience. I am certain she’ll make an exceptional addition to the Supreme Court, and will serve us well for many years to come.”
“We, as a nation, must act now by praying for President Trump, Judge Barrett and their families,” Moore concluded. “They need to have a shield of favor and protection prayed over them. I truly believe we are in a spiritual battle for our nation and the Democrats will stop at nothing to destroy the character of Judge Barrett, as they’ve done for the last 4 years with President Trump.”
Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter
“I join the members of the Alabama House Republican Caucus in praising President Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville.
“Judge Barrett clerked for one of the court’s greatest conservative jurists, Judge Antonin Scalia, and she understands that her job is to interpret the Constitution as the founding fathers wrote it, not to invent new law out of thin air,” Ledbetter said. “The suit against Alabama’s strongest-in-the-nation pro-life law is currently working its way through the federal courts, and it could be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future. Having a conservative majority on the nation’s highest court will be essential to the Alabama Legislature’s efforts to protect unborn life from harm. We encourage the Senate to hold confirmation hearings as soon as possible and to hold an up-or-down vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination immediately after they conclude.”
23rd Alabama inmate dies with COVID-19
There have been 409 total positive COVID-19 cases among inmates and 392 total among employees as of Sept. 26.
The Alabama Department of Corrections on Friday reported the 23rd COVID-19 death among inmates in the state’s prisons.
Christopher Nalls, a 59-year-old inmate serving a 15-year sentence, died Sept. 10 at a local hospital in Hamilton, Alabama.
Nalls was moved to the local hospital on Aug. 31 to receive treatment for pre-existing health conditions unrelated to COVID-19.
His admission test upon entering the hospital was negative, and after treatment, Nalls was discharged Sept. 4.
Upon return, Nalls’s condition worsened, and he was readmitted Sept. 10. He died later that same day. A postmortem COVID-19 test showed Nalls died with COVID-19.
ADOC did not report any other positive COVID-19 cases among inmates in correctional facilities. But in the same report Friday, ADOC reported six new positive cases among staff, bringing the staff total to 28 active cases.
ADOC’s Office of Health Services initiated investigations into possible prolonged exposures between positive staff members and inmates or employees.
There have been 409 total positive COVID-19 cases among inmates and 392 total among employees as of Sept. 26.