March 26, 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The 2018 Regular Session is winding down, but there was still plenty of activity in both he House and Senate last week. This week is expected to mark the end of the session.
  • On Tuesday (21st day of session): The House passed bills of local application only and general bills already passed by the Senate to further provide for ignition interlock provisions for those convicted of driving under the influence; to establish the Rural Broadband Act to support investment in infrastructure in rural areas; to further provide for the sale of land for unpaid taxes; and to create the Alabama Rural Hospital Resource Center within the University of Alabama at Birmingham.The Senate passed a number of local bills including legislation to set the term of office for the Jefferson County Board of Education in Birmingham.
  • On Wednesday (22nd day of session): The House passed several bills of local application only and Senate-passed bills to establish the Alabama Cyber Engineering School and to increase the amount liquor for sale produced on-site for off-site consumption by Alabama manufacturers. The Senate approved bills of local application only and House-passed bills to establish a tax deduction for contributions to first-time home-buyer savings accounts to save funds for a down payment and closing costs; to authorize federally-qualified health centers to deliver medications to clinics; and to provide that income tax credit only offset liability from non-Alabama sources.
  • On Thursday (23rd day of session): The House passed several bills of local application only and approved Senate-passed bills relating to drowsy driving and to require public water systems to notify the State Health Officer when changes are made to fluoride levels; to provide for clarification and additions to the Engineers and Land Surveyors Board; and to further provide for membership and duties of the state Pilotage Commission. The Senate passed a number of House-passed bills of local application only and House-passed general bills to provide for the qualifications of the Secretary for Early Childhood Education; to further provide for the Alabama Move Over Act; and to create the school safety and security task force.

3/26/2018 Group Watch: House Closes Drunk Driving Law Loophole

Stricter regulations will be imposed on drunk drivers after a bill to close a loophole in the law and reduce road deaths passed on Tuesday in the House with a final vote of 98-0. The legislation will require drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device after their first offense. An ignition interlock analyzes a driver’s breath and prevents a car from being started if alcohol is detected.

3/26/2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 25
Sad news this morning. Milton McGregor reportedly passed away last night. Our prayers go out to his family and many many friends. #alpolitics

3/26/2018 Group Watch: New Opioid Restrictions

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama announced a new strategy to help battle the opioid epidemic in the state. In 2015 and 2016, Alabama had the highest rate of opioid drugs prescribed per capita. Starting April 1, all BCBS members receiving new prescriptions for short-acting opioids will be limited to a seven-day supply for the initial fill. If more than a seven-day supply is needed, members can ask the doctor to submit a one-time Prior Authorization for the medicine. The changes will not affect those with cancer or those currently receiving opioids.

3/26/2108 Group Watch: Legislature Approves Budget

The Alabama Senate agreed with changes the House made to the General Fund budget, which includes a boost in funding for prisons and covers the cost of a pay raise for state employees. The plan calls for the allocation of $2 billion from the General Fund for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2018. The Department of Corrections would get an extra $56 million more than the current year. The budget includes a 3 percent cost of living raise for state workers, their first in 10 years. The Medicaid funding is up $54 million.

3/26/2018 Group Watch: Gov. Signs Child Care Bill

A bill that would license many more currently unregulated religious daycare facilities in the state was signed into law by Governor Ivey last week. The bill was proposed following the deaths and illnesses of several children at unregulated facilities across the state. The new law will require religious daycare centers and those that receive federal or state funding to go through DHR’s licensing process and abide by the department’s minimum safety standards.

3/26/2018 Group Watch: Data Breach Act Moving Ahead

The bill known as the Alabama Data Breach Notification Act passed the House on Thursday. The bill  imposes penalties for companies and organizations that are in possession of individuals’ personal information and that fail to notify said individuals when their systems have been breached and that information has been compromised.

March 19, 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Bills of all kinds keep rolling along, pretty much unimpeded, and last week, the Legislature passed local bills plus bilsl to provide funding for the Department of Corrections among other state agencies.
  • On Tuesday (19th day of session): The House passed several bills of local application only and general bills to provide civil immunity to persons providing transportation to healthcare providers without compensation; to provide that the threshold requirement for tax filing to be the sum of standard deduction and personal exemptions; to provide for the electronic filing of campaign finance reports; to create within the University of Alabama at Birmingham the Alabama Rural Hospital Resource Center; and to revise the definition of protected person in the Adult Protective Services Act. They also gave final passage of Senate-passed General fund appropriations, raises and one-time bonuses for active and retired state workers. The Senate passed a few bills of local application only and general bills to establish the filing requirement threshold to be the sum of standard deduction and to further definitions affecting land surveyors and engineers.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day): The House Urban and Rural Development Committee approved a Senate-passed bill to create within the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Alabama Rural Hospital Resource Center. The House Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee approved a Senate-passed bill relating to the Engineers and Land Surveyors Board.
  • On Thursday (20th day of session): The House passed a large number of bills with local application only and general bills to reform the Juvenile Justice System with a number of amendments and to authorize tax abatements for data processing centers be extended for five years. The Senate also passed bills of local application only and House-passed bills to require state regulation of church-based child care facilities; to provide supplemental appropriation to certain entities; and to fund public education in the state of Alabama.

3/19/2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 18
My son Harris and I are on top of the world for Spring Break! Well at least on top of NYC.


3/19/2018 Group Watch: Funding for Prison Improvements

On Tuesday, the Alabama House approved a general fund budget and supplemental appropriations for the current year that will provide additional money for the beleaguered Department of Corrections totaling $85 million. The Department will receive $30 million in new funding for the current fiscal year and $50 million for the next fiscal year, beginning in October. Last year, a federal court ruled that mental healthcare in Alabama’s prisons was inadequate and ordered the state to make improvements.

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