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February 14, 2104 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

It was a productive week in Montgomery: Changes to boating laws could stiffen penalties for operating a boat while drunk, and the Smoke-free Air Act has passed the Senate.

  • Tuesday (10th legislative day): The House passed several bills of local application only as well as general bills to: prohibit the licensing of healthcare professionals from being conditioned upon participation in health-insurance plans; authorize the Secretary of State to provide free computerized statewide voter registration lists to other state chief election officials upon request; authorize the Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors to require applicants to pass a board-approved exam and to further authorize the board to contract with independent testing agencies; regulate tanning facilities to include requiring parental consent for teenagers; and to increase the threshold amount for contracts on which bids are not generally required. The Senate passed several bills of local application only and sunset legislation to continue the State Regulation Control Agency, the Home Medical Equipment Service Providers Board, the Manufactured Housing Commission, the Sickle Cell Oversight and Regulatory Commission, the Athletic Commission, the Construction Recruitment Institute, and the Surface Mining Commission. They also passed general bills to prohibit the use of drones to harass persons while hunting and fishing, and to prohibit smoking in places of employment and public gatherings. This measure is also known as the Smoke-free Air Act.
  • Wednesday (a committee day and 13th legislative day): The House County and Municipal Government Committee considered, but took no action on a bill to further define the liability of local government employees acting in the line and scope of their official duties. The House Financial Services Committee considered a bill to further regulate payday lending and assigned it to a sub-committee for additional study. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved bills to strengthen the Open Meetings Act and to increase the penalties for a drunken boat driver who kills someone to equal those for a drunken car driver who kills someone.  The Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee delayed action on a bill to reduce the number of small businesses that have to pay estimated income taxes. The House approved several bills of local application only and general bills to create a $10 million scholarship program to help high school students take job training classes at two-year colleges and to create the workplace development council. The Senate approved several bills of local application only and general bills to raise the threshold where low-income Alabamians are required to file an income tax return if they don’t owe any taxes, to exempt barbers with at least 10 years’ experience from regulation by the state Board of Cosmetology and Barbering and to dissolve the Foundation for Local Schools and disburse the funds to local schools and trust accounts.
  • Thursday (14th legislative day): The Housepassed several bills of local application only and general bills to: require the State Department of Education to develop and each local board of education to implement a program for use of premeasured auto injectable epinephrine on each public school campus by the 2015-2016 school year; authorize the Medical Licensure Commission or Board of Medical Examiners to allow a physician to renew their license when they are paying an administrative fine in installments; increase the minimum of behind-the-wheel driving practice hours from 30 to 50 for new teen drivers; authorize the practice of optometry through telemedicine; make it a crime to repair a car using fraudulent air bags; require that a child who withdraws from a public school to attend an accredited online school not be counted as a dropout; and to further define “confidential information” in the Alabama Ethics Law. The Senate passed general bills to allow school districts to educate students about traditional winter celebrations and offer traditional greetings; to require that the licensure of medical professionals not be conditioned on participation in health-insurance plans, and to modify and update the list of schedule 1 analogue substances and weights included in trafficking in controlled substances.

Next Week
The House and Senate return next Tuesday at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively for the start of the 15th legislative day.

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