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Lottery, sentencing reform, and medical marijuana all dead for this year

(STOCK PHOTO)

Thursday, the Alabama Legislature made the decision to kill all statewide legislation in a move to end the 2020 regular legislative session as quickly as possible. The decision was made to deal only with budgets and members prized local bills. The decision kills all of the prison and sentencing reform bills, the medical marijuana bill, Rep. Steve Clause’s (R-Ozark)’s simple lottery, permit-less carry of handguns, Medicaid expansion, the Poarch Creek Indian’s plan to pay the state a $billion for a de facto gaming monopoly, and effectively everything else that had not already been signed by the governor in the first 14 days of the 2020 legislative session.

On March 12, the Alabama legislature adjourned for a scheduled two week spring break with 16 of a possible thirty legislative days left. Then the world changed.

When the legislature left for their scheduled break there were only 1,301 known cases of COVID-19 in the entire United States, none in the state of Alabama, and only 38 Americans had died, most of them from one nursing home in faraway Washington State. Since then death has spread across the land. The Wuhan coronavirus plague has infected 865,709 Americans that we have been able to test and killing 50,243 of those. The virus has found its way to every county in Alabama and has already killed 197 of our neighbors.

A fearful group of legislators returned briefly on March 31, set April 28 for their new return date in hope that Spring would improve the situation, and changed the legislature’s rules so if they did not return then the session did not automatically end.

They won’t be returning on April 28. Instead the House and Senate budget committees will meet next week in room 200 of the Statehouse to pass budgets without the public or even lobbyists present.

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) told reporters that room 200 is the only committee room that they have large enough to accommodate the members while strictly enforcing the new social distancing rooms. None of the other committees will meet; thus no other state legislation, even if it has already passed one House will be considered.

Both House of the legislature will return on May 1. They will pass budgets that level fund the state at 2020 budget levels. All of the budget increases, expanded mental health services, and pay raises for teachers and state employees are gone.

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The state has lost an estimated $billion in revenue due to COVID-19 and the forced economic shutdown to attempt to minimize the carnage from the global pandemic.

“Many of the things were not decided until today,” McCutcheon told reporters.

McCutcheon said that when the session began in February, the state had record low unemployment, the economy was booming, pay raises were foregone conclusions and now just two months removed all of that has changed. The state finance director informed us that $one billion in state revenues were lost in the shutdown and there are record high applications for unemployment benefits.

McCutcheon said that because of the limited time remaining, “Our constitutional obligations (passing the general fund and education budgets) will be our priority.”

The Alabama Political Reporter asked if there were any state agencies or commissions in danger of sunsetting.

“We have take care of the sunset bills before we left,” McCutcheon said.

The Speaker said that there was discussion of having a special session to address the budgets in August; but we don’t know that conditions with the virus will be any better then.

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McCutcheon said that to the best of his knowledge known of the members of the legislature have tested positive for COVID-19 and he was committed to protecting the health of the members.

“The health and welfare of the members is of the utmost importance,” McCutcheon said. All members will wear masks when in session, temperatures will be checked when they enter the building, and the legislators will practice social distancing.

McCutcheon said that because of the work that we have done with the rolling reserve and the strength of the economy prior to the pandemic means that the state is not in as bad a shape as they had feared earlier. There is also talk of federal relief bills that could be coming.

“We may not have the full pictures of this,” McCutcheon said/

Legislation to address the issues with the troubled Alabama Department of Corrections also will not be dealt with.

“I have not talked with the Department of Justice,” McCutcheon said. If there is a need to address that Gov. Ivey can call a special session.

“We are trying to reopen the economy,” McCutcheon said. “There is not a magic time to do it. I think it needs to be a phase approach.”

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“We are in a real struggle for our small businesses,” the Speaker said. “It is important that we phase in the program.”

APR asked if the state was planning for the possibility of a second shutdown, of at least the schools, if the virus makes a stronger return this winter working with the flu to do even more mayhem as predicted two days ago by the head of the CDC.

McCutcheon said that is why it is important to pass the budgets, “The budgets themselves keep the state operating.”

Reporters asked if each member of the legislature would be tested for the virus before resuming on May 4.

“We have no plans in place to test a member,” McCutcheon answered.

The 2020 legislative session will end by May 18 under the state Constitution automatically whether the legislature does it or not.

The current plan is to meet May 4 through 8 and end the 2020 legislative session.

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Hash Tags: ETF, education trust fund, state budgets, SGR, state general fund, Statehouse, Mac McCutcheon, death, COVID-19, legislature, coronavirus, prison reform, pay raise, economy, Speaker of the House, global pandemic, Medicaid expansion, lottery, Poarch Creek Indians, gambling, permit-less carry, medical marijuana

Thursday, the Alabama Legislature made the decision to kill all statewide legislation in a move to end the 2020 regular legislative session as quickly as possible. The decision was made to deal only with budgets and members prized local bills. The decision kills all of the prison and sentencing reform bills, the medical marijuana bill, Rep. Steve Clause’s (R-Ozark)’s simple lottery, permit-less carry of handguns, Medicaid expansion, the Poarch Creek Indian’s plan to pay the state a $billion for a de facto gaming monopoly, and effectively everything else that had not already been signed by the governor in the first 14 days of the session.

On March 12, the Alabama legislature adjourned for a scheduled two week spring break with 16 of a possible thirty legislative days left. Then the world changed.

When the legislature left for their scheduled break there were only 1,301 known cases of COVID-19 in the entire United States, none in the state of Alabama, and only 38 Americans had died, most of them from one nursing home in faraway Washington State. Since then death has spread across the land. The Wuhan coronavirus plague has infected 865,709 Americans that we have been able to test and killing 50,243 of those. The virus has found its way to every county in Alabama and has already killed 197 of our neighbors.

A fearful group of legislators returned briefly on March 31, set April 28 for their new return date in hope that Spring would improve the situation, and changed the legislature’s rules so if they did not return then the session did not automatically end.

They won’t be returning on April 28. Instead the House and Senate budget committees will meet next week in room 200 of the Statehouse to pass budgets without the public or even lobbyists present.

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) told reporters that room 200 is the only committee room that they have large enough to accommodate the members while strictly enforcing the new social distancing rooms. None of the other committees will meet; thus no other state legislation, even if it has already passed one House will be considered.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Both House of the legislature will return on May 1. They will pass budgets that level fund the state at 2020 budget levels. All of the budget increases, expanded mental health services, and pay raises for teachers and state employees are gone.

The state has lost an estimated $billion in revenue due to COVID-19 and the forced economic shutdown to attempt to minimize the carnage from the global pandemic.

“Many of the things were not decided until today,” McCutcheon told reporters.

McCutcheon said that when the session began in February, the state had record low unemployment, the economy was booming, pay raises were foregone conclusions and now just two months removed all of that has changed. The state finance director informed us that $one billion in state revenues were lost in the shutdown and there are record high applications for unemployment benefits.

McCutcheon said that because of the limited time remaining, “Our constitutional obligations (passing the general fund and education budgets) will be our priority.”

The Alabama Political Reporter asked if there were any state agencies or commissions in danger of sunsetting.

“We have take care of the sunset bills before we left,” McCutcheon said.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The Speaker said that there was discussion of having a special session to address the budgets in August; but we don’t know that conditions with the virus will be any better then.

McCutcheon said that to the best of his knowledge known of the members of the legislature have tested positive for COVID-19 and he was committed to protecting the health of the members.

“The health and welfare of the members is of the utmost importance,” McCutcheon said. All members will wear masks when in session, temperatures will be checked when they enter the building, and the legislators will practice social distancing.

McCutcheon said that because of the work that we have done with the rolling reserve and the strength of the economy prior to the pandemic means that the state is not in as bad a shape as they had feared earlier. There is also talk of federal relief bills that could be coming.

“We may not have the full pictures of this,” McCutcheon said/

Legislation to address the issues with the troubled Alabama Department of Corrections also will not be dealt with.

“I have not talked with the Department of Justice,” McCutcheon said. If there is a need to address that Gov. Ivey can call a special session.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“We are trying to reopen the economy,” McCutcheon said. “There is not a magic time to do it. I think it needs to be a phase approach.”

“We are in a real struggle for our small businesses,” the Speaker said. “It is important that we phase in the program.”

APR asked if the state was planning for the possibility of a second shutdown, of at least the schools, if the virus makes a stronger return this winter working with the flu to do even more mayhem as predicted two days ago by the head of the CDC.

McCutcheon said that is why it is important to pass the budgets, “The budgets themselves keep the state operating.”

Reporters asked if each member of the legislature would be tested for the virus before resuming on May 4.

“We have no plans in place to test a member,” McCutcheon answered.

The 2020 legislative session will end by May 18 under the state Constitution automatically whether the legislature does it or not.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The current plan is to meet May 4 through 8 and end the 2020 legislative session.

Written By

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with over nine years at Alabama Political Reporter. During that time he has written 8,794 articles for APR. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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