2/12/2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

Feb 10: Prom Night was a HUGE success! Making new friends with big smiles and even BIGGER hearts. What an awesome experience ! #NightToShine #BeABlessing #AllGlory2God

2/12/2018 Group Watch: “In God We Trust Bill” Passes

The Alabama House voted to allow the phrase “In God We Trust” on public buildings, but only after debate on the bill went far off track. Black legislators accused a member of twisting history. Speaking for the bill, Rep. Arnold Mooney said the phrase is from the national anthem, and noted Francis Scott Key once argued slaves on a captured ship should return to Africa. Black legislators reminded him that Key once owned slaves and his third stanza is thought to celebrate the deaths of escaped slaves who fought with the British. The bill eventually passed 91-4, and the bill’s sponsor clarified that people can choose to put the phrase on state property.

2/12/2018 Group Watch: Gov. Aids Economic Development

A bill that allows county commissions the flexibility to give abatements on all or portions of county ad valorem taxes due on properties was signed into law by Governor Ivey last week. Putting this power in the hands of local officials should help economic development projects, and the properties have to meet certain criteria: they must be used for a project that qualifies for economic incentives under the Alabama Jobs Act, and the project must include more than $50 million in investment.

2/12/2018 Group Watch: Anti-Voyeurism Bill Passes Senate

The Alabama Senate passed a bill last Thursday that would make it a crime to take photos or videos of a person’s private parts without their consent in areas where they can expect privacy. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Clyde Chambliss, passed 27-0. Senate Chambliss described the passing of the bill as the beginning of a process of justice for a lot of victims. The bill creates a first degree crime of voyeurism, making it a class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

February 5, 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature convened last Tuesday and got lots of local business done in addition to the House passing a bill affecting childcare programs.
  • On Tuesday (7th day of session): The House worked late into the evening, passing several bills of local application only and general bills to require youth sports personnel to complete a youth injury mitigation course annually; to require transportation network companies to meet minimum requirements by the Public Services Commission; and a Senate-passed bill to bring the Alabama Family Trust Corporation in compliance with federal Social Security law. The Senate passed several bills of local application only, and general bills to require the Department of Revenue to employ auction companies to sell state land; sunset legislation to continue the State Pilotage Commission; to provide grants with a local match for educational programs for gifted/talented children; and to increase the penalties for human trafficking.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day): The House Judiciary Committee approved bills to provide for the use of deadly force in churches in defense of self or others and to authorize police powers for Poarch Creek Indians. The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee approved bills for appropriations to Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Children First Trust Fund. The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved bills that further provide for municipalities who chose to have council-manager form of government. The House State Government Committee approved a bill to require the Department of Transportation to have competitive bidding on road projects in excess of $250,000. The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee approved bills to establish a revised school bus depreciation schedule and to provide a tax credit for private intrastate adoptions.
  • On Thursday (8th day of session): The House passed a few bills of local application only and a significant general bill to provide for licensing of church based child care facilities with floor amendments. They also gave final approval to Senate-approved measures to continue the following agencies: Board of Home Medical Equipment, Sickle Cell Oversight and Regulatory Commission, State Board of Prosthetists and Orthotists, Surface Mining Commission and State Oil and Gas Board and Elevator Safety Review Board. The Senate passed several bills of local application only before adjournment.

2/5/2018 Group Watch: AL’s Top Attractions

The Alabama Department of Tourism recently released its list of most visited tourism attractions in 2017. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville took the top spot, with the Birmingham Zoo,Huntsville Botanical Gardens, the McWane Science Center (Birmingham) next. The Montgomery Zoo came in at number 8. Other sites ahead of the Montgomery Zoo were the Barber Vintage Motorsports Park in Birmingham, the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile and Point Mallard in Decatur. Behind Montgomery Zoo were the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, EarlyWorks Family of Museums in Huntsville and Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham.

2/5/2018 Group Watch: Senate Increases Fentanyl Penalties

Last week, the Senate passed a bill to provide for harsher punishments in crimes related to the trafficking and distribution of the dangerous drug fentanyl. Read more from Alabama Today.

2/5/2018 Group Watch: Gov. Ivey Awards Grants

Six law enforcement agencies in south-central Alabama will purchase equipment after Governor Kay Ivey awarded them more than $143,000 in grants. Ivey awarded Prattville, Millbrook and Tallassee police departments and the Elmore County and Montgomery County sheriff’s departments $24,000 each. The Autauga County Sheriff’s Department and the Prattville Police Department will purchase laptops with their grants. The Millbrook Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office will buy hand-held and portable radios. The Elmore County Sheriff’s Department will purchase forensic evidence equipment and software programs, and the Tallassee Police Department will replace a patrol vehicle with high miles

2/5/2018 Group Watch: Budget Talks Coming Soon

Senators have until February 13 to submit budget requests for the ETF, and the initial budget proposal will be revealed the following week.

2/5/2018 Group Watch: Broadband Bill Passes Senate

Legislation designed to encourage private companies to extend access to high-speed internet into Alabama’s rural areas passed the Senate last week. To ensure all of our state’s people and businesses have the tools needed to compete in the digital age, the Alabama Rural Broadband Act provides tax incentives for the companies’ investment. If signed into law, the bill will exempt companies from sales tax for 10 year, provided they build quietly broadband network infrastructure and facilities. An additional 10 percent investment tax credit (capped at $20 million per company, per year) sweetens the deal.

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