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April 12, 2013 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature returned to work on Tuesday for the 18th day of the session. The House and Senate continued a deliberate pace of conducting business, spending hours on each bill.

Tuesday: The House passed bills to further strengthen animal cruelty statues; provide for sales and use tax exemption for entities involved in certain construction and highway projects in the state; and to authorize 2-year schools to charge resident tuition for nonresident distance learning students. The House Ways and Means-Education Committee approved an education budget that includes a 2 percent pay raise for teachers and a state-financed teacher liability insurance program. The $5.7 billion budget passed the committee on a 9-3 vote. The Senate passed bills to continue the Board of Marriage and Family Therapy and the Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators, and to further provide for powers and duties of the Alabama Land Bank Authority.

Wednesday (a committee day): The House Financial Services Committee left in subcommittee legislation that would put new limits and regulations on the title loan and payday lending industry. The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee approved a bill that could divert an estimated $22 million from the Children First Trust Fund to the state General Fund should the state receive additional tobacco revenue as part of the national tobacco settlement. After hours of debate, the House passed a $5.7 billion Education Trust Fund budget. They also passed separate appropriation bills for Talladega College, Tuskegee University and Lyman Ward Military Academy. They also passed legislation granting K-12 teachers and support workers a 2 percent pay increase and also provide teachers with state-funded liability insurance.The Senate passed several non-controversial bills including bills to fund the office of the State Treasurer through a newly created State Treasury Operations Fund; to amend the state law on unclaimed property; and two sunset bills to continue the operation of the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the State Board of Medical Examiners as well as the Medical Licensure Commission.

Thursday: The House approved bills to allow gill net fishing in the Tennessee River; to restore property tax exemptions for the disabled regardless of income; and considered but took no vote on a bill to change the voter registration deadline from 10 days before an election to 17. The Senate approved bills to curb fraud in government-funded public assistance programs; to establish the Office of Fleet Management in the state Transportation Department to manage the state’s fleet of vehicles; and delayed consideration of a bill to prohibit minors from buying electronic cigarettes. They also approved two sunset bills to continue the Board of Physical Therapy and Board of Athletic Trainers.

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