2/19/2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

@Chris_Hodges
Feb 17
We have two ears and one mouth. Let’s listen twice as much as we talk. @Joe_McGee#MarriageConf18

2/19/2018 Group Watch: Bill to Allow Armed Teachers

State Representative Will Ainsworth will introduce a bill allowing some public school teachers and administrators to be armed at school. According to Ainsworth, the bill will allow Alabama public school teachers and administrators to undergo firearms training, arming themselves against attacks at school. His bill is in response the recent Florida high school shooting. He said that educators in his area asked him to introduce the legislation allowing them to protect themselves. Teachers seeking to be armed would have to be certified by law enforcement.

2/19/2018 Group Watch: House Approves Church Defense Bill

Late last Thursday evening, The  House approved a bill to extend the state’s Stand Your Ground law to churches. The bill would add houses of worship to the state’s 2006 law, allowing a person to use physical force against anyone committing a crime, attempting a crime or attacking an employee or member of a church. The bill extends the protection to offsite church social events and does not specify that the protection of church members needs to take place in a dwelling. The bill passed 40-16.

2/19/2018 Group Watch: Budgets Sailing Ahead

The House unanimously passed The Education Trust Fund Budget last Tuesday, and now the General Fund Budget is moving forward, being moved favorably out of the The Senate Committee on Finance and Taxation General Fund on Wednesday. Thanks to a healthier economy and a few other factors, it’s higher than last year’s budget by more than $150 million. The extra money will be allocated for a 3-percent cost of living raise for state employees and a $50 million increase to the Department of Corrections.

2/19/2018 Group Watch: Ivey Kicks Off Campaign

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey officially launched her campaign to win the governor’s office in her own right. Ivey was suddenly catapulted to the office 10 months ago when then-Governor Robert Bentley resigned. Ivey said she has done her best to steady a scandal-rocked state. The governor touted economic successes, including a decision by Toyota and Mazda to build a plant in Huntsville. She is the frontrunner in a field of five seeking the Republican nomination. There are seven Democrats seeking their party’s nomination.

2/19/2018 Group Watch: Teacher Pay Raise Passes

The Alabama House of Representatives approved a 2.5-percent pay raise for teachers and education employees. The measure passed 100-0 last Tuesday. The vote came after an hour-long debate in which Democrats argued the raise should be higher, but Ways and Means Chair Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa pointed out the raise must be sustainable in the future. He said it would not be prudent to tap savings to give a higher raise now.

2/19/2018 Group Watch: Data Breach Bills

Two bills, one in the Senate and one in the House, both called the Alabama Data Breach Notification Act, have been introduced and if passed, will hold both public and private entities that store sensitive information more accountable for that information’s security. The Senate version will be taken up in committee this wee

February 12, 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Last week, The Alabama Legislature focused again on local bills, but in addition, it passed a bill to allow the phrase “In God We Trust” on state property.
  • On Tuesday (9th day of session): The Housepassed several bills of local application only and general bills to allow the Marriage and Family Therapy Board to further define the practice to include diagnosis of mental and emotional problems; to permit Pharmaceutical Services Providers to petition the Department of Revenue for direct refund of overpayment of supplemental privilege tax; and to permit state agencies to use the motto “In God We Trust” in and on building and vehicles. The Senate passed several bills of local application only and general bills to further provide education reimbursement for those serving in the National Guard; to increase the fees for reinstatement when a person is getting reinstatement after failing to maintain mandatory liability insurance; to further provide municipalities with exceptions when dealing with summons and complaints in lieu of arrest; and to further provide for considerations relating to DUI and penalties.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day): The House Ways and Means General Fund Committeeapproved bills to reopen the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) and to extend the private hospital assessment and Medicaid funding for the 2019 fiscal year. The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved the Education Trust Fund Budget; a bill to provide salary increases to K-12 employees; and several appropriation bills that travel with the budget including a supplemental appropriation for select entities for the current fiscal year. The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to allow the mayor to authorize the remittance of court costs imposed by the municipal judge. The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved a bill to authorize the sale of tax liens be sold at auction to the bidder with the lowest interest rate. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved bills to provide a one-time lump sum retirement payment and to provide business privilege tax credits to beginning farmers.
  • On Thursday (10th day of session): The House continued to pass bills of local application only in addition to general bills to permit the Department of Transportation to require bids on road projects in excess of $250,000; to establish a tax amnesty program; and to require vehicles to move over when approaching vehicles with flashing lights.  The Senate passed several bills of local application only and general bills to provide tax credits for Neighborhood Infrastructure Authorities; to exempt the sales of gold bullions from sales and use tax; and to criminalize the taking of a video or photo depicting intimate areas of a person without the person’s consent.

2/12/2018 Group Watch: Italy in Tuskegee

Italy gave the Tuskegee Airmen a home. Now, an Italian corporation hopes to make its home in Alabama for what could be a transformational project. Italian ambassador Armando Varricchio visited Moton Field in Tuskegee last week, touring the training home of the celebrated World War II fighter pilots. Along with the ambassador was William Lynn III, CEO of Leonardo DRS, the North American arm of the Italian aeronautics and defense contractor. The company plans to build the T-100 trainer jet for the U.S. Air Force at Tuskegee if the contract is awarded. That decision by the U.S. Force is expected this summer.

2/12/2018 Group Watch: Education Budget Passes Committee

Last week, the the Education Trust Fund Budget easily made its way out of the House committee with support from Republicans and Democrats. At $6.63 billion — more the $200 million larger than last year’s ETF Budget — (thanks to a steadily improving economy), it allows for a 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers. It also has a bump up in funding for the Public Education Employee Health Insurance Program, and the state’s popular and praised Pre-K program would get increased funding too. Most work on budget bills takes place in committee and with so little controversy and debate, it is expected that the bill will likely pass into law very close to its current form.

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