May 8, 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature returned to work on Tuesday, May 2 for the 22nd day of the session. Here are a few highlights of what was accomplished.

  • On Tuesday (22nd day of session): The House passed general bills to establish the Alabama Space Authority within the Department of Economic and Community Affairs, to authorize municipalities to rehire retired law enforcement officers and firefighters under certain circumstances and to exempt from state sales and use tax the sale of photographs and commissioned portraits.  The Senate passed House-passed bills to authorize the rehire of retired public safety officers in Jefferson County under certain conditions and to revise and create forest products severance and manufacturers tax on wood residue used in conjunction with forest products manufacturing processes. They also passed general bills to allow for the payment of awards in condemnation proceedings under certain circumstances and to expand the adjusted gross income range for maximum standard deductions.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day and the 23rd day of session): The House Judiciary Committee approved Senate-passed bills to permit capital defendants to choose a firing squad and to clarify the process of hearings and service process requirements in domestic violence cases. The House Jefferson County Legislation Committee approved Senate-passed bills governing the salary of the Birmingham City Council and to further the boundaries of authority to operate Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee approved a House-passed General Fund Budget with amendment and the Children First Trust Fund budget. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a House-passed childcare facilities licensing bill with amendment. The House passed the Senate-passed appropriation bills for the Education Trust Fund, Lyman Ward Military Academy, Tuskegee University and Talladega College. The Senate passed a number of bills of local application only before adjourning for the day.
  • On Thursday (24th day of session):  The House passed a general bill to further define the practice of Marriage and Family Therapy practitioners and a Senate-passed bill to further define the boundaries of authority to operate the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. The Senate passed the House-passed appropriation bills for General Fund Agencies and the Children First Trust Fund.

5/8/2017 Group Watch: Roby’s Overtime Bill Clears House

U.S. Representative Martha Roby spent time this week explaining her Working Families Flexibility Act, which allows workers choose between overtime pay and paid time off. Currently government employees can utilize compensatory time, paid time off in lieu of overtime pay. That practice is prohibited in the private sector. Roby’s bill, which passed the House, removes the federal restriction on the use of comp time in the private sector. Under Roby’s bill, it is up to the employee to determine whether or not they want their overtime pay or they want to accrue overtime to use later as paid leave. Roby said this about moms and dads who want to coach their child’s sports team or help care for an aging parent: “It is all about individual choice and flexibility.”

5/8/2017 Group Watch: Gov. Ivey Appoints New ADECA Director

Last week, still-new Governor Kay Ivey appointed a new director for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). She chose Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell, saying he “understands the needs of local communities and is fully committed to transparency and openness.” Read more here.

5/8/2017 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

@GovernorKayIvey: “Alabama is our home, our people are as sweet as our tea, and our future is as bright as the Sun over the Gulf.”

May 1, 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature returned to work on Tuesday, April 25 for the 20th day of the session. Here are a few highlights of what was accomplished and see some interesting election news below.

  • On Tuesday (20th day of session): TheHouse passed several bills of local application only, and general bills to provide for the practice of midwifery and to exempt certain midwives from licensure by the state Board of Nursing; to provide for the standardized system for collection of excise taxes on natural, compressed and liquefied gas; and to establish the Emergency Medical Services Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact. The Senate passed general bills to immunize the Board of Nursing against anti-competitive rule making; to transfer the Information Technology, Information Services Division and State Business Division from the Department of Finance to the Office of Information Technology; to provide that certain public water, sewer, gas electric and fire protection authorities, boards and systems, are eligible as governmental entities for state and local sales and use tax exemptions; and to authorize Medicaid to file claims and liens against a recipient’s estate.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day): The House Ways and Means Education Committeeapproved a Senate-passed Education budget with changes as well as appropriations bills for Tuskegee University, Talladega College and Lyman Ward Military Academy. The House Judiciary Committee approved a Senate-passed bill to authorize mayors to remit certain court cost in matters where indigence is indicated. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved a House-passed bill to immunize volunteer caregivers for persons with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The Senate County and Municipal Government Committee approved a House-passed bill to revise the manner in which local governments approve new municipal solid waste facilities.
  • On Thursday (21st day of session): The House passed several bills of local application only and a general bill already passed by the Senate affecting historical monuments. The Senate passed bills of local application only, including one dealing with the salary of the city council for the City of Birmingham and another that sets the boundaries of authorities to operate the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Authority as well as a general bill to further revise and strengthen the law governing Stage II driver’s licenses (teen).

5/1/2017 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

@AlabamaToday: Alabama’s ‘Big 5′ mayors lay out agenda for state lawmakers.

5/1/2017 Group Watch: Suspended Alabama Chief Justice running for U.S. Senate

Last Wednesday, suspended Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore announced his candidacy to challenge Senator Luther Strange for the U.S. Senate. It had been rumored for some time that Moore might resign his seat on the bench and make a run for either the U.S. Senate seat or enter the governor’s race in 2018. Moore was suspended without pay for the rest of his term in September 2016. It was determined by the Judicial Inquiry Commission that Moore violated multiple canons of judicial ethics when he ignored federal court rulings that same-sex marriage was legal and must be allowed. Moore confirmed that he had submitted paperwork to tender his resignation from the bench.

5/1/2107 Group Watch: Governor’s Race Growing

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox is considering a run for Alabama governor. That’s the word after Maddox commented on a recent radio show that “It is too early to tell.” Maddox, who often re-tweets people suggesting he should run for governor, said he and his family will consider those factors and said he appreciates the support he’s already received from citizens. Maddox, who has been mayor since 2005, was re-elected to a fourth term during an election in March by defeating his challenger in a landslide. He has been praised for his economic development work and his handling of the aftermath of the deadly 2011 tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa.

April 24, 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature returned to work on Tuesday, April 18 for the 18th day of the session, and some Republican senators gathered support for a constitutional amendment to change the role of lieutenant governor (see below). Here’s what else they got done.

  • On Tuesday (18th day of session): The House passed bills to prohibit the state from discriminating against childcare service providers under certain circumstances; to require the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission to adopt policies to require law enforcement to use only reasonable force; to authorize an income tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic buildings; to regulate fantasy content; to provide for consumer protection measures; and final passage of a Senate-passed bill to require future high school graduates to pass a civic test.  The Senate approved general bills to allow capital defendants to elect to be executed by firing squad; to allow persons to possess and carry a firearm without a permit; and to prohibit voters from switching parties between primary elections.
  • On Wednesday (a committee day): The House Health Committee approved a bill to authorize certain loan repayment practices for advanced practice nurses. The Senate Judiciary Committeeapproved a House-passed bill to authorize designated members to carry firearms as part of a church protection program and a bill to provide civil immunity to a person rescuing a child or incapacitated person. The Senate Jefferson County Local Legislation Committee approved bills to lower the percent of investments in fixed income securities and to revise the operations of the Birmingham retirement and relief system.
  • On Thursday (19th day of session): The House passed bills of local application only and general bills to mandate coverage of autism spectrum disorder under certain conditions and to add regulatory requirements for all childcare facilities. The Senate passed House-passed bills to authorize healthcare providers to decline to perform services that violate their consciences; to prohibit assisted suicide; to affirm the state’s commitment to the right to life of unborn children; and to provide absentee voting without explanation.

4/24/17 Group Watch: Senators Propose Changing Lt. Gov. Role

A dozen Republican state senators are signed on as supporters of a proposal to change the Alabama Constitution so that the governor and lieutenant governor would run on the same ticket and serve as a team, like the president and vice president. The proposal, if approved by the legislature, would require approval by voters and would remove the lieutenant governor’s role as president of the state Senate. Senator Gerald Dial said the state would benefit by having a lieutenant governor who could work on behalf of the governor and stand in for the governor on initiatives like recruiting industries. Under the proposed amendment, the Senate would elect a president from its members, like the House elects a speaker.

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