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January 2013 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Things are getting busy in downtown Montgomery as the 2013 Legislative Session draws near.

  • “Guns in Schools” Summit at Capitol. Children’s safety at school was at the center of discussion recently in the auditorium of the state capitol. Lawmakers, educators and law enforcement came together to look at ways to prevent a school shooting in Alabama. The summit was in response to the school shooting in Connecticut that left 26 dead, including 20 young children. There was no discussion of new gun restrictions, like banning assault weapons or high capacity magazines. Most of the discussion centered on the role of teachers, law enforcement and mental health professionals. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has asked his Homeland Security Director to lay out a strategic plan for preventing and responding to active shooting situations. One lawmaker proposed to arm at least some school personnel to respond in such situations.
  • House Speaker Names Leaders. Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard recently made some leadership appointments prior to the start of the 2013 regular session of the Legislature. He appointed Representative Lynn Greer of Rogersville to chair the committee on Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure; Representative Mac McCutcheon of Capshaw to chair the powerful Rules Committee; Representative Allen Farley of McCalla as vice chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee; and Representative Barry Moore of Enterprise was named vice chair of the Commerce and Small Business Committee. Speaker Hubbard also named Representative Bill Roberts of Jasper vice chair of the Committee on Boards, Agencies and Commissions.
  • Governor Bentley Backs Off Proposal for 2013 Session. Governor Robert Bentley has backed off one of his proposals for the 2013 legislative session starting February 5. The governor talked in September about passing financial incentives to get veteran state employees to retire and reduce the state payroll. During the holidays, he announced was putting the proposal on hold because the state was achieving savings without the incentives. His decisions came after only a few hundred state workers expressed interest in such incentives and after the state pension system warned that the short-term savings on payroll might not be worth the long-term effect on pension and health insurance costs. Bentley said in a recent interview, “If we have the right number retire, we will not have to provide incentives, and it will save the state money”.

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