Connect with us

House

Opinion | Weekly 2019 legislative report

Beth Lyons

Published

on

The Alabama Legislature met for Day 12 of its annual Regular Session on Tuesday, April 23. Thirty-three committee meetings were held throughout the week to consider legislation. Both Houses met on Thursday, April 25 for Day 13. 849 bills have been introduced to date.

The Legislature will return to Montgomery on Tuesday, April 30 for Day 14 of the Session with the House convening at 1 p.m. and the Senate at 3:30 p.m.

DURING THE WEEK:

Following a public hearing last week, the Senate Tourism Committee voted 6-5 against a bill that would have allowed the carrying of a firearm without a concealed carry permit [SB4 by Senator Gerald Allen].

On Tuesday, the Senate Tourism committee voted 6-5 for a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would establish a lottery, provide for the sale of paper lottery tickets including instant tickets and multi-state lottery games, and provide for the distribution of proceeds, first to repayment to the Alabama Trust Fund for transfers made to the General Fund, then one-half to the Alabama Trust Fund and one-half to the General Fund. The full Senate on Thursday approved the bill on a vote of 21-12, the minimum number of votes needed (3/5) to pass a Constitutional Amendment. The bill now goes to the House [SB220 by Senator Greg Albritton].

The Senate Governmental Affairs committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would establish a process for governmental agencies to provide public records including setting a standardized fee for copies and a time frame for responding to requests. It is expected that a substitute bill will be adopted addressing some of the concerns voiced at the public hearing when the committee again meets on the bill [SB237 by Senator
Cam Ward].

The House gave final passage to a Senate bill to allow hunters to buy licenses to hunt whitetail deer and hogs over bait under certain circumstances. The bill is now pending the Governor’s signature [SB66 by Senator Jack Williams].

SIGNIFICANT INTRODUCTIONS THIS WEEK:

Advertisement

A bill was introduced in the House that would establish the Safe Freight Act to prohibit the operation of a train unless the train has a crew consisting of at least two individuals. The bill is pending in the House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee [HB484 by Representative Napoleon Bracy].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require a physician to exercise reasonable care to preserve the life of a child born alive after an abortion or attempted abortion. The bill is pending in the House Health Committee [HB491 by Representative Ginny Shaver].

A bill was introduced in the House that would provide additional penalties for criminal littering and may include enhanced penalties for littering of certain items including cigarettes, cigars, containers of urine, and restaurant food containers. The bill is pending in the House State Government Committee [HB500 by
Representative Margie Wilcox].

A bill was introduced in the House that would provide for a delivery service permit that would allow the permittee to contract with certain licensed retail establishments to deliver sealed alcoholic beverages directly to Alabama residents who are at least 21 years of age for their personal use. The bill is pending in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee [HB519 by Representative Gil Isbell].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment was introduced in the Senate that would allow in Macon County the game of bingo to be played on any electronic machine authorized by the National Indian Gaming Commission pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which is operated by any Native American tribe in Alabama. The bill is pending in the Senate Local Legislation Committee [SB322 by Senator Billy Beasley].

SIGNIFICANT COMMITTEE ACTION THIS WEEK:

The Senate Tourism Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would authorize licensed manufacturers of alcoholic beverages within an entertainment district that conduct tastings and samplings to sell beverages for consumption outside the premises. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB276 by Senator Rodger Smitherman].

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing, substituted, and gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow the use of medical marijuana if a person has a qualifying condition and a valid medical cannabis card. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB236 by Senator Tim Melson].

The Senate Education Policy Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would require that the pledge of alliance to the US flag be conducted at the beginning of each school day in public K-12 schools. The bills now go to the full Senate [HB339 by Representative Nathaniel Ledbetter].

The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would update the amnesty and class action provisions of the Simplified Sellers Use Tax (SSUT), and clarify transactions for which the tax cannot be collected and remitted. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB183 by Representative Rod Scott].

The House Agriculture and Forestry Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would require dispensing veterinarians to notify pet owners of the option to purchase veterinary drugs from a pharmacy rather than the veterinarian’s office [HB293 by Representative Margie Wilcox].

The House Urban and Rural Development Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a bill that would authorize the placement, construction, installation, operation and use of broadband and other advanced communication capabilities and related facilities within electric easements by electric providers. The bill now goes to the full House [HB400 by Representative Randall Shedd].

The Senate Tourism Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow a licensed wine manufacturer to obtain a wine direct shipper permit from the ABC Board to allow it to ship limited quantities of wine directly to Alabama residents for personal use. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB274 by Senator Bobby Singleton].

The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would provide for the operation of shared micromobility device systems and would require the consent of a county or municipality prior to the use of the system in the county or municipality. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB312 by Senator Rodger Smitherman].

The Senate Tourism Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would provide that in Green County the game of bingo authorized by a previous amendment may be played on any electronic machine or devise that is authorized pursuant to specified federal law. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB321 by Senator Bobby Singleton].

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would require the Strengthen Alabama Homes Program to maintain as confidential all documents and information submitted in support of grant applications. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB363 by Representative Chip Brown].

The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would require the Department of Agriculture and Industries to develop a plan for monitoring and regulating the production of hemp. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB225 by Senator Tim Melson].

The House Ways and Means Education Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would phase in the requirement that each public K-12 school offer courses in computer science. The bill now goes to the full House [HB216 by Representative David Faulkner].

The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow certain licensed small farm wineries to sell directly to consumers. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB234 by Senator Tom Whatley].

SIGNIFICANT FLOOR ACTION THIS WEEK:

The House substituted and passed a bill that would require the Alabama Historical Commission to commission monuments for Rosa Parks and Helen Keller to be located on the Capitol grounds. The bill is now pending in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee [HB287 by Representative Laura Hall].

The House amended and passed a bill that would require insurance companies writing homeowners insurance policies to offer an endorsement that upgrades a home to a fortified standard adopted when the insured incurs roof damage covered by the policy that will require a roof to be replaced. The bill is now pending in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee [HB283 by Representative Chip Brown].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would authorize an organization, winery or brewery to obtain a license from the ABC Board to hold a wine or beer festival where wineries or breweries may provide tastings and sell their products for on-premises or off-premises consumption. The bill is now pending in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee [SB269 by Senator Andrew Jones].

The House passed a bill that would provide that the surviving spouse and dependents of a law enforcement officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty on or after January 1, 2018 will continue to receive worker’s compensation benefits. The bill is now pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee [HB187 by Representative Matt Fridy].

The House passed a bill that would authorize the Legislature to recompile the Alabama Constitution during the 2022 Regular Session, and provide for its ratification. The bill is now pending in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee [HB328 by Representative Merika Coleman].

The House passed a bill that would authorize the Secretary of State to establish procedures to allow a voter to be placed on a permanent absentee voter list upon proof of having a permanent disability. The bill is now pending in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee [HB174 by Representative Victor Gaston].

The Senate substituted and passed a bill updating the Rolling Reserve legislation known as the “General Fund Budget Reform Act” that would provide for the maximum amount that may be appropriated annually from the State General Fund, create the General Fund Budget Reserve Fund and General Fund Capital Fund, and cap the amount of certain taxes and revenues. The bill is now pending in the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee [SB126 by Senator Clyde Chambliss].

The Senate amended and passed a House bill that would make certain technical corrections to the Limited Liability Law regarding the ability of a partnership to continue as an entity for a brief period of time, and the duty of a partner to not compete with the partnership before the partnership is dissolved. The bill now returns to the House for action on the Senate amendment [HB251 by Representative Bill Poole].

The Senate substituted, amended, and passed a bill that would provide for the rights and responsibilities of an individual with a disability who uses a service animal and would prohibit discrimination against the person for using a service animal in a public accommodation or a housing accommodation. The bill is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee [SB10 by Senator Linda Coleman-Madison].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would establish the Alabama Board of Genetic Counseling, provide that the practice of genetic counseling without a license is a criminal offense, exempt physicians and other medical professionals from licensure, and provide that genetic counselors are not authorized to practice medicine. The bill is now pending in the House Health Committee [SB213 by Senator Jabo Waggoner].

Advertisement

House

Alabama Legislature plans to return to work briefly March 31

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

The Alabama Senate is planning to get to only a few big, constitutionally mandated items before calling an end to the year’s legislative session amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but whether they’ll get those tasks accomplished remains to be seen. 

Senate leadership is advising lawmakers who fall into “at-risk” categories because of their age or pre-existing medical conditions to not attend the Senate’s meeting when it resumes.

Among the items legislators tentatively plan to tackle before gaveling the session closed sometime in the future are the passage of the Education Trust Fund budget and the General Fund budget, which is the Legislature’s only constitutionally mandated duty.

And “other bills deemed necessary.” 

The state Senate’s Plan of Action, obtained by APR Friday, states that the Senate will meet at 2 p.m. on March 31 for its 14th legislative day. 

“The intent for this legislative day is to advance only essential attendance items and then to adjourn to a date certain for the 15th Legislative Day. April 28 has been discussed with the House,” the plan reads. 

The State Senate’s plan: 

“As leaders, it is imperative that we demonstrate that the business of this state carries on in an orderly and systematic fashion while adhering to the recommendations of our public health officials.

Advertisement

The Alabama Senate will meet on Tuesday, March 31 at 2:00 pm at the Statehouse in the Senate Chamber as scheduled. This will be the 14th Legislative Day.

The intent for this legislative day is to advance only essential attendance items and then to adjourn to a date certain for the 15th Legislative Day. April 28 has been discussed with the House.

Below is a draft agenda for Tuesday, March 31.

  • Gavel In
  • Pledge and Prayer
  • Roll Call
  • Excuse all Senators
  • Points of Personal Privilege
  • President Pro Tem Marsh
  • Majority Leader Reed
  • Minority Leader Singleton
  • Adjourn to date certain for 15th Legislative Day.

“It is highly recommended that any Senator that falls into any of the at-risk categories stay away from the March 31 Legislative Day,” the plan advises. “However, each Senator’s personal wish will be accommodated.”

Any Senator or staff member that is ill, has been ill, or has been in the same room of anyone that has had any symptom of illness in the 72 hours preceding the March 31 Legislative Day must stay away from the March 31 Legislative Day, according to the Senate’s leadership.

A disinfecting station will be provided under the canopy of the second-floor rear entrance for each senator to disinfect hands and cell phones as they enter the State House and as they leave the Statehouse.

“We must ensure that we practice all Health Department recommendations while at the Statehouse,” the plan reads.

Social distancing will be accomplished by having senators report to their offices by 1:45 p.m. They will then walk into the chamber as the roll is called and then go back to their offices.

“As much separation as possible is required therefore greetings must be verbal only from a distance of 6 feet or greater,” the plan reads.

The remainder of the session will be held possibly Tuesday, April 28 through Monday, May 18.

This timeframe includes three weeks of the session plus the last day of May 18.

A specific plan for meeting more days than normal will be developed and provided prior to the next legislative meeting date.

Continue Reading

House

$200,000 in campaign finance penalties deposited into State General Fund

Staff

Published

on

By

Act 2015-495, which went into effect beginning with the 2018 Election Cycle, allows the Secretary of State’s Office to issue penalties to Political Action Committees (PACs) and Principal Campaign Committees (PCCs) that fail to timely file campaign finance reports.

As of today, the Office of the Secretary of State has collected $202,504.20 which has been deposited into the State General Fund to benefit the people of Alabama.

Conversations with the Senate and House General Fund Chairmen are currently underway to determine the best way to allocate these resources to counties.

Anyone who receives a campaign finance penalty is able to appeal their penalty to the Alabama Ethics Commission who has the authority to overturn a penalty.

“When I campaigned for this office in 2014, I made a promise to the people of Alabama that I would work to see that it is easy to vote and hard to cheat in this state. Since then, we have worked to make the electoral process more fair and transparent through requiring the honest reporting of all PACs and PCCs,” stated Secretary of State John H. Merrill.

Anyone who suspects an individual may be in violation of the Alabama Election Fairness Project is encouraged to report suspicious activity to StopVoterFraudNow.com.

 

Continue Reading

Economy

Daniels: We have to get help to those who need it most

Josh Moon

Published

on

There is not enough help coming fast enough to the people struggling the most. 

That was the message from Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, who was asked on the “Alabama Politics This Week” podcast about the efforts of Alabama’s state government to address the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“If you’ve never been poor, you don’t fully comprehend how things like this affect the poor and the unique problems the poor people face,” Daniels said. “I commend Gov. (Kay) Ivey and her staff for working to try and address this crisis the best they can, but I just think there’s a lack of understanding among all of us in some cases of how people need help.” 

To address those issues, at least in part, Daniels is writing a series of letters to different entities, including Ivey, to explain how they can best help the state’s most vulnerable. 

Daniels plans to ask the Alabama Supreme Court to order lower courts to halt foreclosure proceedings and evictions for those affected by coronavirus job losses and illnesses. He also will ask Ivey to intervene with banks on behalf of customers who are falling hopelessly behind on mortgage, car loans and other installment loans. And he will seek additional assistance from the state for borrowers with overwhelming student loan debt. 

“I want people to understand that I’m not criticizing what’s being done or trying to take control, I just hear from these folks on a daily basis and believe there are some better ways to help people,” Daniels said. “President Trump has addressed student loan debt by knocking the interest of those loans, but what does that really do for a person who just lost a job? Or someone who’s had hours and pay cut? We need to pause those payments and give people substantial forgiveness. 

“Otherwise, it’s going to be ugly.”

Democrats in the House also have been putting together potential legislation that could be passed to help the state’s poorest citizens and those who have been laid off from jobs. The specifics of those pieces of legislation weren’t available, but Daniels said they would have the same focus — providing real help for those who need it most. 

Advertisement

If those bills are anything like the measures taken during the last economic downturn, you can expect a relaxing of rules on social programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and unemployment assistance programs. 

One of the first moves could be overturning a measure passed during the last legislative session that cut the number of weeks of unemployment pay in the state from 26 to 14. State Sen. Arthur Orr sponsored that legislation, and critics argued at the time that a downturn, such as the one that occurred in 2008, could suddenly leave thousands in the state without jobs and job prospects. It passed anyway.

 

Continue Reading

House

Alabama House cancels March 25 committee meetings due to coronavirus

Jessa Reid Bolling

Published

on

The Alabama House of Representatives announced on Monday that committee meetings scheduled for Wednesday, March 25 will be cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The legislative day on March 26 has not technically been cancelled but the House is not expected to have a quorum for that day.

A “quorum” is the minimum number of House members that must be present at any meeting to make the proceedings of that meeting valid. If there are not enough members present, then the meeting cannot proceed and House rules state that the speaker of the House is allowed to set a new date for the meeting. 

The Legislature is currently on an annual spring break. The House and Senate are both expected to reconvene on March 31. According to the statement from the House, a joint decision will be made regarding the future legislative meeting days.

The full statement reads:

“The leadership of the Alabama House of Representatives has made several changes to the upcoming meeting calendar because of the coronavirus crisis in the state.

House committees that were scheduled to meet on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 have been cancelled.

The House is scheduled to meet on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. but no quorum is expected that day.

Advertisement

Under House Rule 5(b), if there’s no quorum to conduct business during a state of emergency declared by the governor, the speaker of the House is allowed to set the date and time of the next meeting day. 

Both the House and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 and at that time a joint decision will be made as to future legislative meeting days.”

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.