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

Governor Ivey has been busy since the session ended, and there’s been some positive movement in the search for our next Superintendent of Education.
  • Gov. Ivey opens campaign headquarters in Montgomery: Alabama Governor Ivey recently opened her campaign headquarters in Montgomery. She has been governor for a little less than a year, but expressed confidence that the state is on the right path under her leadership. Ivey said she has righted the ship of state and that a dark cloud is no longer hanging over the state. She also introduced her dog, Bear, to the assembled crowd. She said the dog was three years old when she got him and he was already named, so she didn’t change it. She added that she did get him an Auburn collar though.
  • Gov. Ivey announces funding for new behavioral health services: Governor Ivey announced that the State of Alabama has set aside $11 million in its recently passed budgets for the Alabama Department of Mental Health to expand behavioral health services for Medicaid-eligible children and youth. When combined with federal matching funds, the money is expected to generate more than $36 million in total spending during the 2019 fiscal year. The funding will expand services provided at home or in the community to two groups of young people. One group is children and youth with emotional disturbances, and the other is children and youth with autism spectrum disorders.
  • Gov. Ivey signs bill to boost online sales tax collections: Governor Ivey signed into law a bill expected to increase the taxes Alabama collects for online sales. The state started the Simplified Sellers Use Tax three years ago to help collect taxes owed by Alabama customers on purchases from online vendors. The new law allows the state to collect from third-party vendors that sell products through online marketplaces. The change is estimated to increase state and local revenues by $23 to $39 million a year. The use tax is the sales tax for products bought out of state for use in Alabama.

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

@thebloomgroup
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

@reptodd
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.

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