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March 8, 2013 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature returned to work on Tuesday for the 10th legislative day of the session with each chamber meeting for several hours without passing any bills thanks to most of the attention at the State House being focused on Montgomery courtroom where Circuit Judge Charles Price heard arguments in a lawsuit regarding legislation passed last Thursday.

Tuesday: The House spent the day hearing Democrats denounce the passage of the tax credits bill that’s now tied up in a lawsuit. They objected to its substance and the process. The Senate adopted a list of bills to consider, but adjourned while still debating the first one. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a compromise version of a gun bill by Senator Scott Beason of Gardendale. The bill would require sheriffs to grant people concealed weapon permits unless the sheriff can establish documented, specific reasons for denying the permit.

Wednesday (a committee day):The Senate Health Committee approved a House-passed bill to add new regulations for abortions clinics. The Senate Education Committee narrowly approved a bill to allow home-schooled children across the state to participate in public school athletics. That same committee postponed for a week voting on a bill to overturn the state school board’s adoption of Common Core curriculum standards and require legislative approval for future statewide standards and limit the sharing of student and teacher data with entities outside the state. They also took no action on a bill to prohibit schools from considering seniority when they decide whom to layoff during workforce reductions. The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee approved the General Fund budget bill, the Children First Appropriations Bill and a bill to transfer certain tobacco revenue to the General Fund in the 2014 fiscal year.

Thursday: The House passed a Senate-passed bill to create the cabinet level position of Secretary of Information Technology and a legislative oversight committee with certain powers and duties. They also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current year for the Department of Commerce and to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. This measure also has passed the Senate. The House refused to override the governor’s veto of Franklin County bill that would let some teachers carry guns. Administration sources say they appreciate what the bill’s sponsor was trying to do, but the administration believes that only trained, certified law enforcement officers should be carrying weapons in schools. The Senate passed a bill establishing policy and causes of actions relating to Right to Work. Work in both chambers was deliberate and slow and not much was achieved.

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