March 22, 2021 Group Watch: Senate Passes $7.6 Billion Education Trust Fund Budget

The Alabama Senate unanimously approved the 2022 Education Trust Fund budget, sending the $7.6 billion budget to the House. The biggest highlight of the budget is the funding for the Teacher Excellence and Accountability for Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) Salary Schedule Program. This program will significantly increase the pay for middle and high school teachers who teach math and science, and provides a 2-percent increase for all education employees. The budget also increases teacher supply funding, giving each $1,000, compared to $600 last year. The budget provides additional funding for career tech; preschool special education; and the establishment of an HBCU consortium.

March 22, 2021 Group Watch: Lottery Bill Still Alive

Last Wednesday, the Alabama Senate Tourism Committee approved a bill by Senator Jim McClendon that allows voters to decide whether or not to start a state lottery, and Senator Del Marsh, sponsor of an earlier plan that included a lottery, casinos and sports betting, said that his proposal might return. Marsh, chair of the Tourism Committee, urged the committee to pass McClendon’s bill, which it did, as well as legislation tied to Marsh’s plan for a larger expansion of gambling, which fell two votes shy of approval earlier this month. Marsh said he wants to give senators time to reconsider and possibly amend McClendon’s bill to add casinos and sports betting. McClendon’s plan would set up an Alabama lottery and allow people to play multi-state games like Powerball and Mega Millions. People could also play the lottery on their phones. The net revenue would be split evenly between the Education and General Fund budgets.

March 22, 2021 Group Watch: State Gets $$ From Fed Stimulus

Alabama will receive $4.043 billion in direct aid as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan recently signed into law. Among counties, Jefferson will receive the largest allocation ($127 million), followed by Mobile ($80.14 million), Madison ($72.32 million) and Montgomery ($43.93 million). Birmingham will get $148.82 million, by far the most among cities. Mobile will receive $60.21 million and Montgomery $42.14 million. The funds are part of the $350 billion provided to state and local governments to help boost budgets hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific spending parameters will be outlined by the U.S. Treasury going forward; funds cannot be spent to replace net tax revenue caused by a change in law or pensions.

March 22, 2021 Group Watch: AL Schools Resuming Standardized Testing

Standardized testing resumed in school districts across Alabama last week. The federal requirement to test all students, first demanded under the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, remains in place. While Superintendent Eric Mackey says he plans to ask federal officials to waive the high federal bar set for the number of students who must be tested, the state must still assess at least some students this year in reading, math and science. Last year, all testing was canceled after schools were closed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. School officials say these tests are important in order to determine what students have and haven’t learned in the previous year. This is the first time in 21 years that the state will actually be able to use the state assessment for the purpose for which it was designed, according to Mackey. The results will be used to make adjustments in teaching and instruction. The test is fully online, with paper tests only offered to students who have a specific documented need. There is no take-from-home version, so all students, even those learning remotely will have to come to school for the test.

March 22, 2021 Group Watch: New Initiative Aims to Make AL Tech & Innovation Hub

A proposal currently in the Alabama Legislature would establish the Alabama Innovation Corp. as a catalyst to spark economic growth, technology-focused innovation and job creation throughout the state. The Alabama Innovation Corp. would act as a public-private partnership to provide rural businesses, and R&D at existing companies access to the advanced tech skills that power a 21st Century workplace. The partnership would primarily be charged with making Alabama a hub for technology and innovation, advancing activities and initiatives to drive growth in the state.

March 22, 2021 Group Watch: GP Mill in AL Recognized

Thanks to its sustainable practices, the Georgia Pacific facility in Brewton earned the coveted Energy Star Challenge Achiever for Industry award for 2020. The container board mill, which manufactures the paperboard used in cardboard boxes and paper plates, was recognized with the award by the Environmental Protection Agency for improving its energy intensity by 11.2 percent in just four years, which led to annual cost savings of approximately $2.6 million. The GP Brewton mill is the first in Alabama to receive this designation.

March 22, 2021 Group Watch: Spring Break!

The Alabama Legislature is taking this week off for Spring Break, and so is Group Watch. We’ll be back with the news you need to know on April 5.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Last week’s legislative headline was the “no-go” on the lottery and casino bill put forth by Senator Del Marsh, but House passage of the General Fund budget is big news too. Read on for more details.
  • Tuesday, March 9 (13th legislative day): The House passed several bills of local application only and general bills to: require the Pardons and Parole Board to use electronic monitoring for certain inmates being released from prison; provide for the General Fund budget; provide appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence; provide for a 2% raise for state employees; further define additional types of foster family homes; and establish a State Seal of Biliteracy for graduates with the proficiency in English and at least one world language, including American sign language. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved House passed bills to: establish the Alabama State of Emergency Consumer Protection Act; require the Emergency Management Agency to develop guidelines for the volunteer designation of safer place facilities throughout the state to protect individuals during severe weather events; and to allow the governing body of certain municipalities to set compensation for members of utility boards. The Senate passed several bills of local application only and a general bill to further provide when juvenile law enforcement records may be released. They debated at length a bill to provide for a lottery and gaming in the state, but the measure failed to get the 21 votes required for passage.
  • Wednesday, March 10 (a committee day): The House State Government Committee approved a bill to require a county health officer to obtain written approval from the State Health Officer before issuing an order addressing a pandemic. The House Education Policy Committee approved bills to: establish learning opportunities outside of typical K-12 classroom for credit; authorize the broadcast of public K-12 school sporting events; and require local boards of education and superintendents to establish online learning in certain circumstances during school closures. The House Judiciary Committee approved a senate passed bill to require the sales of land for taxes be conducted on premises of or within the courthouse or courthouse annex. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved a bill to exempt Airport Authorities from sales and use tax. The Senate Education Policy Committee approved a bill to authorize the broadcast of public K-12 school sporting events.
  • Thursday, March 11 (14th legislative day): The House passed several bills of local application only and general bills to: authorize local boards of education to offer yoga in grades K-12; authorize municipalities to use electronic records and signature in the conduct of its affairs; further provide regulation and operation of motor vehicles and electric bicycles; and further provide for security of the State House by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. The Senate passed several bills of local application only and general bills to: revise the membership of the Employees’ Retirement System Board of Control; further provide for granting eminent domain relating to public lands and rights-of-way; and to provide credit for inmates’ time served in local jails awaiting transfer to the Department of Correction.
The House and Senate reconvene on Tuesday, March 16 at 1 and 3 pm respectively.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 13
Regular Session 2021
House Convenes: 3/16/2021
1:00 PM
Senate Convenes: 3/16/2021
3:00 PM
Live video stream for the House.
Live video stream for the Senate.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: Gov. Sets House District 78 Special Election

Governor Ivey set the special election dates for Alabama House District 78. This seat was held by Kirk Hatcher, who was elected to Alabama Senate District 26. The primary is set for Tuesday, May 25, 2021; the special primary runoff, if needed, for Tuesday, June 22, 2021; and the special general election for Tuesday, September 7, 2021. The qualifying deadline is Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 5 pm.

The Bloom Group, Inc.

401 Adams Avenue, Suite 710
Montgomery, Alabama 36104
Telephone: (334) 244-8948
Fax: (334) 213-0688

Live Audio Feed

Listen to your senators and representatives at work. Click here to find links to live audio of the House and audio plus video of the Senate.

Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee

Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee

The News You Need

Find the latest information on all things Alabama politics on Alabama Today.