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March 9, 2012 Group Watch: This Week in the Legislature

The Alabama Legislature returned to work on Tuesday, the 10th meeting day of the 2012 session and once again, had a full plate of bills to consider.

Tuesday: The House passed a bill to provide tax credits to businesses that invest in or locate in low-income areas. The measure provides an 8.3 percent tax credit per year for investing in impoverished areas for up to six years. The House also passed bills to authorize the president of the University of South Alabama to employ police officers for the campus; to require notification of affected persons when someone seeks youthful offender status if intentional serious injury or death has occurred; and to define basic telephone service consistent with federal regulation and statues. The Senate passed Sunset Legislation continuing the Public Service Commission before stalling tactics surfaced over a bill to provide stipends to classroom teachers for supplies. The Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment to authorize the Ten Commandments to be displayed on state property and at public schools and a bill to define the kind of gift public officials, including teachers can receive as not worth more than $25.

Wednesday (a committee day):  Senator Vivian Figures got the Senate Health Committee to unanimously approve her bill to ban smoking in public places such as restaurants, hotels and motels, retail stores and schools and sports arenas. The bill would not apply to cigar factories, retail tobacco shops, cigar bars or private clubs. The Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee approved a House-passed bill that extends tax incentives to new jobs created in the aircraft industry. The House Education Policy Committee approved a bill requiring that school superintendents be appointed by local boards of education rather by election. The committee considered but did not act on a bill to reduce the mandatory age at which children are required to start school.

Thursday:  The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved a House-passed bill requiring motorists to move over when utility service vehicles are working and have their yellow lights flashing as well as a bill to require governmental and quasi-governmental entities to pay no more than the appraised price when acquiring property. There were three amendments to the bill in committee. The House passed bills to provide for a “One-Call Notification System” covering utility and underground facilities; to provide regulation in extraterritorial jurisdiction matters relating to county and municipal governments; and to require local boards of education to develop policy regarding concussion, youth athletes with concussions or head injury. The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to provide every classroom teacher with $300 to buy supplies such as paper, pencils, chalk and hand soap. The Senate also voted to continue the Respiratory Therapy Board and the Board of Examiners of Assisted Living Administrators.


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