Connect with us

Legislature

Senate committee assignments released leave Democrats spread thin across multiple committees

Chip Brownlee

Published

on

New committee assignments in the Alabama Senate have been decided as the Legislature heads home from its organizational session and prepares for the upcoming regular session, which will begin in March.

Members assigned to standing committees will serve on those committees until 2022, the end of this legislative term.

The Alabama Senate Committee on Assignments determined the committee compositions.

Newly re-elected Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, who will also chair the Senate Committee on Tourism, thanked the Assignments Committee for their work.

“I want to thank the Committee on Assignments for their work on these committees, they did a fantastic job of matching Senators with the committee that best takes advantage of their strengths and abilities,” Marsh said. “I look forward to working with these members in the upcoming session. There are some tough issues facing the state and I believe these committees and their members are best equipped to address these issues in a way that benefits the people of Alabama.”

Republicans will have majorities on all of the Senate committees, with Democrats spread thin and serving across multiple committees, given their minority status in the Senate. Some will have assignments on as many as five committees. Republicans gained one seat in the November elections, expanding their majority by one seat to 27. Democrats hold only eight seats in the Senate.

Despite their shrinking minority, Democratic leader, Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, praised the way committee assignments were handled.

Advertisement

“Because we are in the minority we’re only going to get so many seats on committees. However, I think what has been done was fair based on the percentage of people that we have,” Singleton said. “There were only two committees that we didn’t get seats, the Committee on Assignment and the Local Legislation Committee, but I would have liked to have representation on those as well, and of course we would love some chairmanships.”

The Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Local Legislation Committee are two powerful ones. The Rules Committee — often referred to as the “arm of the leadership — sets legislative agendas and handles changes to the Senate rules. It determines what rules under which a bill will be brought to the floor.  The Local Legislation Committee handles local and county legislation that affects particular areas of the state.

Marsh was re-elected Tuesday to another four-year term as the Republican leader in the Senate. He will be joined by Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, who said Wednesday that he is excited to see the committees get to work.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“Committees are the backbone of the legislative process, a place where bills are refined and improved and ideas are vigorously debated,” Reed said. “Like the entire Senate, the committee chairmen come from all walks of life and include small business owners, doctors, farmers, former teachers, and attorneys from every region of our state. The 4.8 million citizens of Alabama deserve the best leadership possible, and I am confident that these citizen-lawmakers will ably lead the Senate’s fifteen committees during the new legislative term.”

Committee on Rules                         

  • Jabo Waggoner (Chair)
  • Clay Scofield (Vice Chair)
  • Gerald Allen
  • Linda Coleman-Madison
  • Vivian Figures
  • Jimmy Holley
  • Steve Livingston
  • Jim McClendon
  • Tim Melson
  • Arthur Orr
  • Greg Reed
  • Rodger Smitherman

Committee on Finance & Taxation Education

  • Arthur Orr (Chair)
  • Tim Melson (Vice Chair)
  • Greg Albritton
  • Gerald Allen
  • Donnie Chesteen
  • Priscilla Dunn
  • Vivian Figures
  • Garlan Gudger
  • Jim McClendon
  • Clay Scofield
  • David Sessions
  • Bobby Singleton
  • Rodger Smitherman
  • Jabo Waggoner
  • Tom Whatley

Committee on Finance & Taxation General Fund

  • Greg Albritton (Chair)
  • Gerald Allen (Vice Chair)
  • Billy Beasley
  • Tom Butler
  • Clyde Chambliss
  • Linda Coleman-Madison
  • Jimmy Holley
  • Steve Livingston
  • Jim McClendon
  • Arthur Orr
  • Malika Sanders-Fortier
  • Larry Stutts
  • Jabo Waggoner
  • Cam Ward

Committee on Confirmations

  • Clay Scofield (Chair)
  • Jabo Waggoner (Vice Chair)
  • Gerald Allen
  • Will Barfoot
  • David Burkette
  • Vivian Figures
  • Sam Givhan
  • Andrew Jones
  • Greg Reed
  • David Sessions
  • Rodger Smitherman
  • Larry Stutts
  • Cam Ward
  • Tom Whatley
  • Jack Williams

Committee on Judiciary

  • Cam Ward (Chair)
  • Will Barfoot (Vice Chair)
  • Greg Albritton
  • Linda Coleman-Madison
  • Vivian Figures
  • Sam Givhan
  • Arthur Orr
  • Malika Sanders-Fortier
  • Bobby Singleton
  • Rodger Smitherman
  • Larry Stutts
  • Tom Whatley

Committee on Government Affairs

  • Jimmy Holley (Chair)
  • Chris Elliott (Vice Chair)
  • Greg Albritton
  • Clyde Chambliss
  • Linda Coleman-Madison
  • Sam Givhan
  • Garlan Gudger
  • Arthur Orr
  • Dan Roberts
  • Malika Sanders-Fortier
  • Shay Shelnutt

Committee on Education Policy

  • Tim Melson (Chair)
  • Donnie Chesteen (Vice Chair)
  • David Burkette
  • Tom Butler
  • Priscilla Dunn
  • Chris Elliott
  • Vivian Figures
  • Jim McClendon
  • Randy Price
  • Shay Shelnutt

Committee on Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

  • Tom Whatley (Chair)
  • David Sessions (Vice Chair)
  • Billy Beasley
  • Chris Elliott
  • Garlan Gudger
  • Andrew Jones
  • Steve Livingston
  • Tim Melson
  • Randy Price
  • Clay Scofield
  • Bobby Singleton
  • Larry Stutts
  • Jack Williams

Committee on Banking & Insurance

  • Shay Shelnutt (Chair)
  • Jack Williams (Vice Chair)
  • Will Barfoot
  • David Burkette
  • Donnie Chesteen
  • Chris Elliott
  • Andrew Jones
  • Steve Livingston
  • Randy Price
  • Dan Roberts
  • Clay Scofield
  • Bobby Singleton
  • Rodger Smitherman
  • Jabo Waggoner
  • Tom Whatley

Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development

  • Steve Livingston (Chair)
  • Garlan Gudger (Vice Chair)
  • Will Barfoot
  • Tom Butler
  • Clyde Chambliss
  • Priscilla Dunn
  • Arthur Orr
  • Dan Roberts
  • Malika Sanders-Fortier
  • Clay Scofield
  • Shay Shelnutt
  • Cam Ward

Committee on Transportation & Energy

  • Gerald Allen (Chair)
  • Dan Roberts (Vice Chair)
  • David Burkette
  • Tom Butler
  • Donnie Chesteen
  • Priscilla Dunn
  • Chris Elliott
  • Sam Givhan
  • Andrew Jones
  • Steve Livingston
  • Randy Price
  • Greg Reed
  • David Sessions

Committee on Healthcare

  • Jim McClendon (Chair)
  • Larry Stutts (Vice Chair)
  • Billy Beasley
  • Tom Butler
  • Donnie Chesteen
  • Linda Coleman-Madison
  • Tim Melson
  • Greg Reed
  • Dan Roberts
  • Cam Ward
  • Tom Whatley
  • Jack Williams

Committee on Children, Youth & Human Services

  • Larry Stutts (Chair)
  • Andrew Jones (Vice Chair)
  • Greg Albritton
  • Will Barfoot
  • Billy Beasley
  • Clyde Chambliss
  • Linda Coleman-Madison
  • Sam Givhan
  • Jimmy Holley
  • Dan Roberts
  • Malika Sanders-Fortier
  • Shay Shelnutt
  • Jack Williams

Committee on Tourism

  • Del Marsh (Chair)
  • Randy Price (Vice Chair)
  • Billy Beasley
  • Priscilla Dunn
  • Chris Elliott
  • Garlan Gudger
  • Andrew Jones
  • Tim Melson
  • David Sessions
  • Bobby Singleton
  • Rodger Smitherman

Committee on Veterans & Military Affairs

  • Tom Butler (Chair)
  • Sam Givhan (Vice Chair)
  • Will Barfoot
  • Billy Beasley
  • David Burkette
  • Donnie Chesteen
  • Jimmy Holley
  • Malika Sanders-Fortier

Committee on Local Legislation (LL1)

  • Clyde Chambliss (Chair)
  • Del Marsh
  • Greg Reed

Advertisement

House

McCutcheon is in “wait and see mode” on medical marijuana bill

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) last Thursday was asked by reporters where he stood on pending medical marijuana legislation.

“I am in a wait and see mode,” McCutcheon told reporters. “The sponsor of the bill has done a lot of work.”

On Tuesday, State Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) introduced a bill to legalize tightly controlled medical cannabis. The Medical cannabis bill introduced on Tuesday is Senate Bill 165.

“We have a letter from the Attorney General,” recommending that the legislature reject the bill.

Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) is arguing that while marijuana remains a federally controlled substance the legislature should not pass a state law that would be noncompliant with federal law. Marshall believes that if medical marijuana has any medical benefit then the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be the appropriate authority to approve such legislation and the state should wait for FDA to act.

33 states already have legalized medical marijuana.

“It brings up a legal question when you get a legal opinion from the attorney general office,” McCutcheon explained. “It answers some of my questions and also on the pro and the con there were some questions raised in the legal community.”

Advertisement

McCutcheon said, “That is why we are in the mode that we are in.”

Melson introduced a medical marijuana bill last year during the 2019 regular session. That bill passed the Senate; but had difficulty getting out of committee in the Alabama House of Representatives. Instead of passing medical marijuana legislation the legislature passed a bill extending Leni’s Law and Carly’s law and establishing the Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission tasked with making a recommendation to the legislature.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission was chaired by Sen. Melson and met monthly from August to November. In December, the commission voted in favor of a draft proposal recommending that the state allow licensed medical providers to prescribe marijuana based medications to patients with a demonstrated need. The state would create the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to regulate medical cannabis in the state. Farmers, processors, transporters, and dispensaries would have to get a license from the Commission and product would be strictly regulated.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Despite the Commission’s recommendation, SB165 remains highly controversial in the legislature and there is expected to be considerable opposition to the bill. SB165 is 82 pages long.

SB165 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judiciary Committee Chairman Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) told the Alabama Political Reporter that there will be a public hearing on SB165 on Wednesday, at 8:30 a.m. in the Alabama Statehouse room 825. Opponents and proponents will both be given the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Thursday was the fourth day of the 2020 legislative session.

Continue Reading

Legislature

Ophthalmologists concerned over questionable Senate Health Committee vote

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

A controversial call in a state Senate Health Committee vote has some who are opposed to a bill that would expand the scope of practice for optometrists seeing red. 

APR obtained a video of a portion of the Feb. 5 Senate Health Committee meeting, during which state Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, who sponsored Senate Bill 66, made a motion to give a favorable report for Senate Bill 66. 

Committee chairman Sen. Jim McClendon, R- Springville, called for a second to Whatley’s motion, to which no one could be heard on the video to have spoken up but McClendon said “I have a second” and asked that “all in favor say aye” without calling for “nays” and then declared the motion approved and closing the meeting. 

In a video several senators can be heard expressing concern over McClendon’s move, and asking that their “no” votes be counted. Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham, can be heard off camera saying “Record my no vote please.” 

Sen. Coleman-Madison’s is the only “nay” vote noted on the Health Committee Vote Roll Call Sheet, which McClendon signed as having passed in a 5/4 vote. 

If it becomes law, the bill would allow optometrists to expand their scope of practice to include numerous procedures that state law now only allows done by ophthalmologists, who are graduates of medical schools and who undergo lengthier training including residencies. A similar bill failed approval by the legislature last year.

APR’s Brandon Moseley reported Friday on the differences of opinion between the optometrists and the ophthalmologists about the bill. 

Advertisement

Asked why he didn’t call for “nays” before closing the vote, McClendon, a retired optometrist and a co-sponsor of the bill, told APR by phone on Friday that “that’s the chairman’s prerogative.” 

McClendon said that the only written information about the transactions within a committee is the vote, and that the committee clerk, not him, notated on the vote total that Sen. Coleman-Madison was a “nay.”  

Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, told APR that every committee chairperson has the authority under Senate rules to conduct a vote as McClendon did. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

“Typically, you get a one-time pass on that,” Ward said. “In other words, you can pull that one time during the session. You can’t do it repeatedly…It’s kind of an unspoken rule.” 

“It’s not that the chairman gets a pass,” McClendon said when told of Ward’s statement. “It’s that that chairman is in charge of the meeting.” 

Asked if it was fair to move the bill through the committee without taking a full vote on it, McClendon said “it’s the procedure. Life is not fair. Let’s face it.” 

“As someone who’s not familiar with the political process and how these things are done, it was surprising to me how the meeting transpired,” Dr. Brendan Wyatt, an ophthalmologist who spoke out against SB66 at the Feb. 5 meeting, told APR by phone Friday. 

Wyatt said before the meeting those who opposed the bill had commitments from eight senators who said they’d vote against moving it out of committee.  

“Having the mindset that we’re in a representative government I was surprised and taken back on how that whole thing took place,” Wyatt said of the vote. 

Senate Bill 66 now rests with the Senate Rules Committee, which will determine whether the bill will move on to the special calendar for a full Senate vote. 

APR’s attempts to reach Senate Rules Committee chairman Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, and several other Health Committee members last week were unsuccessful. 

Asked if he believes the bill has a chance of passing this year, McClendon said “I’d say it’s better than last year.” 

“It’s out of the committee,” McClendon said.

 

Continue Reading

House

House passes bill to simplify annexations

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Thursday the Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation making it simpler to annex property in overlapping police jurisdictions if both of the municipalities agree and all of the landowners agree with the annexation.

House Bill 12 is sponsored by State Representative Terri Collins, R-Decatur. The bill however was carried on the floor of the House on Thursday by Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, who was away with her family due to the sudden death of her husband, Tom Collins, from a sudden heart attack on Sunday, February 9.

Rowe said that under current law, if both of the municipalities in overlapping police jurisdictions agree, and all of the property owners are also in agreement then half of the land could be annexed this year. Half of the remaining half could enter the city limits next year, then half of the remaining one quarter could be annexed the year after that. The process could take years.

HB12 simplifies it so that all of the land in overlapping police jurisdiction, where the landowners are in agreement, could come in to the city limits of their choice as long as both of the cities or town are in agreement.

Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, said that he was voting against the bill and wanted it amended to exempt Talladega County out of it. He said that many country people were fearful of being annexed into a city and having local governments telling them that they can not build a chicken house or expand their barn. Hurst said that there was a Mayor in his county that was seeking more power and more annexations. He did not name that mayor.

Rowe assured Hurst that the property owners could not be annexed against their will under the terms of this legislation.

HB12 was passed by the Alabama House of Representatives on a vote of 83 to 4.

Advertisement

The legislation now goes to the Alabama Senate for their consideration.

The Alabama House of Representatives will meet again on Tuesday, February 18. It will be the fifth day of the 2020 Legislative Session. Under the Alabama Constitution of 1901, the regular legislative session is limited to no more than thirty days.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Continue Reading

Legislature

Sen. Greg Reed announces ADECA grants for local law enforcement

Staff

Published

on

By

Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, announced today the following grants for local Law Enforcement Agencies from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). 

  • $23,682.00 to the City of Cordova for the Cordova Police Department will use to purchase properly fitted body armor, less- lethal tasers, computers and surveillance equipment. 
  • $20,786.32 to the Town of Oakman to purchase new equipment for the Oakman Police Department. 
  • $23,075.31 to the Town of Arley for the Arley Police Department to update their patrol cars and department.

Governor Kay Ivey announced the awarding of the grants this week. 

“Too often, we are reminded of the dangers our law enforcement officers face as they patrol our streets and keep our communities safe. I am pleased to announce that we have made additional funding available to help these police departments purchase necessary, new equipment,” Governor Ivey said. “We must do everything we can to ensure our officers have the best resources available just as they ensure our families and communities are safe.”

Rep. Tim Wadsworth thanked Governor Ivey and emphasized the importance of funding the local police departments. 

“I want to personally thank Governor Ivey for approving the ADECA police protection grants that were awarded to the towns of Cordova, Oakman, and Arley.  The protection of our citizens is of paramount importance to us and our children and without adequate funding our police departments cannot operate at a 100 percent efficiency. Further, I would like to thank Mayor Gilbert, Mayor Franks and Mayor Tyree for their leadership in working with the police chiefs to apply for these grants.  Senator Reed and I have worked hard to let police departments know when grants are available and to assist in any way we can in the process. Again, thanks to all that are involved.”

Senator Reed praised the ADECA for providing support to these Law Enforcement agencies for equipment that will ultimately be used to keep communities and law enforcement officers safer.

“I want to thank Governor Ivey and ADECA for working with us so that we can provide our police men and women with the funds they need to purchase new equipment and improve the equipment they already use. Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. We owe it to them to do all we can to make sure they have what they need to make their jobs easier and safer,” Reed said.

Greg Reed represents District 5 in the Alabama State Senate, which includes all or parts of Walker, Fayette, Winston, Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties. He serves as the Senate Majority Leader.

Advertisement

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.