April 2018 Group Watch: Senator Shelby to Lead Appropriations Committee

Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby is on the brink of becoming the new chair of the Appropriations Committee. The post carries great influence over more than $1 trillion in annual spending. Shelby was confirmed by panel members to lead the committee and is sure to be ratified by the full Senate. He would replace Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, who recently retired from the Senate due to poor health. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri would take over Shelby’s current role as chair of the low-profile Rules Committee.

April 2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Month

April 10
Great news!!
RT from @lutherstrange
Great news for our state and country! Congratulations to my friend and former colleague.

April 2018 Group Watch: Search for Superintendent of Education Narrows

Alabama Board of Education members narrowed a field of seven semi-finalists down to four finalists, who are being interviewed on April 20. Board members will vote after the interviews. The four finalists are (in alphabetical order): Dr. Eric Mackey, Director of the School Superintendents of Alabama; Dr. Kathy Murphy, Superintendent Hoover City Schools; Dr. Craig Pouncey, Superintendent Jefferson Schools; and Robert Scott, former Education Commissioner in Texas.

April 2, 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The 2018 Regular Session is over and quite a lot got done, with many of the bills passed into law carrying a large consensus. Here are some highlights from the session’s last days.
  • On Tuesday (24th day of session): The House acted on several conference committee reports and passed a Senate-passed bill to provide a one-time lump sum payment to retired educators. The Senate acted on several House-passed bills of local application only and general House-passed bills to approve a correctional officer retention pilot program and to provide credit for time spent incarcerated pending trial or other adjudication.
  • On Wednesday (25th day of session): The House acted on several conference committee reports. The Senate also acted on several conference committee reports and approved House-passed bills to further define terrorist threats to include schools and churches; to further provide for trustees at Alabama State University; and to revise the enforcement provisions of the Ethics Commission.
  • On Thursday (26th day of session): The House approved a Senate-passed bill of local application only, and the Senate approved the House-passed conference committee report relating to the Education Trust Fund budget. Both chambers adjourned sine die prior to noon.

4/2/2018 Group Watch: Juvenile Sex Offender Bill

The Senate concurred with House changes to a bill that changes the way schools deal with juvenile sex offenders in the classroom. The bill expands the pool of people notified of low risk juvenile offenders to include the superintendent of education and each individual board of education member. State law holds that low-risk juvenile sex offenders are required to register with local law enforcement when they establish a residence. Law enforcement is responsible for notifying the principal of the school where the juvenile will attend. That information is considered confidential by the school and shared only with teachers with supervision over the juvenile sex offender.

4/2/2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 28
I said my goodbyes last night. What an awesome experience, thank you for supporting me!

4/2/2018 Group Watch: Ivey Attends Installment of AU President

Governor Kay Ivey was present for the installment ceremony for Auburn University President Steven Leath. Leath left Iowa State University in 2017 to become Auburn University’s 19thpresident. Ivey said that, “This is a great day in our state and in the life of our beloved Auburn University.” Governor Ivey is an Auburn University alum.

4/2/2018 Group Watch: Ethics Exemption Passes

One exception to the session’s smooth sailing was an ethics law exemption. Last week, a divided  Legislature voted to exempt economic developers from the state law that governs lobbyists. On Thursday, the House gave final approval to the bill voting 52-22 to accept Senate changes. Lawmakers were splintered over whether the change was needed for job recruitment or risked creating a loophole in the state ethics law. Under the bill, economic developers would not be considered lobbyists and would not register with the state and disclose activity as lobbyists do. The Senate approved the bill on a 15-14 vote.

4/2/2018 Group Watch: Session Wrap-Up: Pass or Fail

While the Legislature’s 2018 Regular Session was pretty free from conflict and controversy, it also only saw 323 of the 992 bills filed actually pass. Read more in Alabama Today‘s detailed report, here.

4/2/2018 Group Watch: Rural Internet Access Expanding

The Legislature passed the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act. Telecommunication companies worked to get support for the new law that provides tax incentives to get people in rural areas internet speeds in excess of 25 megabits per second. Telecommunication companies worked to get support for the new law, which is believed to be worth more than $10 million of incentives. The federal spending plan passed by Congress contains a $500 million pilot program for the USDA to help get broadband to those that are woefully underserved. Governor Ivey has already signed the bill into law.

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