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February 7, 2014 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

News & Views from the State House
A number of local and non-controversial bills passed through the House and Senate this week, and one of last session’s hotly debated topics, the repeal of Common Core standards, probably won’t even be discussed this session.

  • Tuesday (10th legislative day): The House approved several bills of local application only and general bills to end the requirement to publish lists of registered voters in newspapers and instead publish the list on the county’s website; to prevent unfunded mandates from application to local school boards; to authorize warrantless arrests under certain conditions for trespassing on the property of an education institution; and to require animal shelter directors and owners to publish a monthly report of the number of animals that entered the shelter and list what happened to them. The Senate approved sunset bills to continue the Department of Insurance, the Public Service Commission and the Board of Podiatry. They also approved a bill after considerable debate to place additional restrictions for lobbying by former public officials and staff.
  • Wednesday (committee day): The House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee approved bills to allow members of government boards and commissions to participate in public meetings by electronic communication and to allow the state Ethics Commission to redact personal information from past statement of economic interest forms for public employees and officials that are available to the public online. The Senate Children Youth Affairs and Human Resources Committee approved a revised bill that would have required able-bodied public benefits recipients to perform community service. The revised measure says that the state will not seek any more waivers from the federally imposed work requirements in the food stamp program. State officials say federal guidelines will halt the practice in October of this year notwithstanding the outcome of this legislative initiative. The Senate Finance and Taxation-General Fund Committee approved bills to provide a one-time, non-recurring bonus for retirees of possibly up to $1,200 and a House-passed measure to provide tax credits to Alabama families that adopt children in Alabama. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill aimed at allowing a person with certain illnesses to possess the oil called cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, a derivative of marijuana. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Paul Sanford of Huntsville, says evidence suggests the oil can be used to treat debilitating effects of seizure disorders. The committee carried over a bill dealing with the open meetings provisions of state law and delayed a vote on a bill to decriminalize midwifery.
  • Thursday (11th legislative day): The House passed several non-controversial bills and bills of local application only. They also passed bills to increase the maximum burial expense payment under workers’ compensation and to clarify elections procedures relating to the counting of write-in votes. The Senate passed sunset bills continuing the State Board of Registration for Foresters, the State Board of Prosthetists and Orthostists, and the Oil and Gas Board. They also passed bills authorizing the Division of Purchasing in the Finance Department to purchase certain personal property from vendors not on the state contract list under certain conditions and to make certain modifications relating to the State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.
Next Week
The House and Senate return next Tuesday at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively for the start of the 12th legislative day.

Dead on Arrival
A new effort to repeal the Common Core State Standards from Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards will be “dead on arrival” during the upcoming Regular Session of the legislature. Although one member of the Alabama Senate wants to revisit a failed effort from the 2013 session, Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh threw cold water on the idea of a common Core Standards repeal, saying any such bill would be dead on arrival in the Senate.

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