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March 16, 2012 Group Watch: This Week in the Legislature

The Legislature returned for a short workweek on Wednesday the 12th day of the 2012 regular session. They did not meet on Tuesday due to statewide primary elections. Here’s what they were up to.

Wednesday: The House and Senate Constitution and Elections Committees postponed consideration of bills to restructure legislators’ compensation. The House passed a number of bills including a bill to ban school bus drivers from using mobile telephones in any capacity while driving except in emergencies, to allow cities to create entertainment districts where citizens can drink from open containers and to allow the state take up payments of health insurance premiums for families of state workers killed in the line of duty.

They also passed bills increasing the penalties for stalking and aggravated stalking, also called Tracy’s Law, and to provide for direct appeals to the Court of Civil Appeals relating to Certificate of Need (CON). The Senate passed sunset bills to continue the following agencies, boards and commissions: Electronic Security Board of Licensure, Board of Cosmetology, Board of Real Estate Appraisers, Board of Auctioneers, Pilotage Commission, Examiners of Mine Personnel, Board of Dental Examiners and Board of Boilers and Pressure Vessels. The Senate also welcomed back Senator Harri Anne Smith of Slocomb after her acquittal last week in the state’s gambling corruption trial.

Thursday: The House passed several bills of local application including one to authorize the participation of certain Jefferson County employees in the Retirement Systems of Alabama. They also passed general bills to further regulate sale of products containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine and create an electronic drug offender tracking system and to create the Digital Crime Act for persons using technology equipment in the commission of a crime.

The Senate passed sunset bills to continue the following agencies, boards and commissions: Board of Electrical Contractors, Board of Examiners for Plumbers and Gas Fitters, Board of Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors, Department of Insurance, Board of Examiners in Psychology, Board of Examiners in Counseling, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Board, ABC Board, Public Accountancy Board, Board of Court Reporting, Board of Social Work Examiners, Security Commission, Real Estate Commission and the Board of Funeral Service. They also passed a bill requiring the Governor to approve new rules as propose by agencies before they are certified.

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