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March 24, 2014 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

While some progress was made this week, the education budget is still not ready to go to the Governor. The issue will be taken up again when the legislature returns from Spring Break.

  • Tuesday (25th legislative day): The House passed a number of local bills, and after lengthy discussion, passed a House substitute for the Senate-passed Education Trust Fund budget of $5.9 million. That measure will likely end up in a conference committee. The Senate, following some pre-convening haggling, passed a number of bills that included allowing students to carry auto-injectable epinephrine to counter potentially fatal allergic reactions; allowing public employees to accept awards from third parties for outstanding performance in their jobs; allowing trained school workers to administer diabetes drugs to students; allowing income tax deductions for donations made to catastrophe accounts; allowing school districts to install devices on school buses to track and find cars that overtake those vehicles; and a bill to establish the Alabama Space Authority. They also gave final approval to House-passed bills to establish penalties for persons who interfere with a public safety communication or damage public safety equipment; to increase the burial expense allowed under workers’ compensation; and to provide a tax exemption to certain persons for the purchase of certain medical equipment and supplies.
  • Wednesday (a committee day and the 26th legislative day): The House Health Committee held a public hearing but did not vote on a bill to allow non-nurse midwives to assist women who choose to deliver their babies at home. The Senate Health Committee approved a bill to keep secret the names of execution drug suppliers, but added an amendment that allows a judge to order the release of the information. The House worked until midnight and reconvened at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and passed bills to fund a $1 million University of Alabama at Birmingham study on the effectiveness of using cannabidiol to control seizures and other debilitating disorders; to reorganize much of the legislative branch of government; to allow persons arrested, but not convicted, of certain crimes to petition to have the arrest removed from their record; to make revisions to the Alabama Accountability Act, which provides private school tax credits to families zoned for failing schools; and to clarify candidates are responsible for reporting campaign contributions when a donation check is deposited or within 10 days of receipt. The Senate worked until 10:00 p.m. and passed bills to allow motorists to carry loaded handguns in their vehicles without buying a pistol permit and to prohibit birth parents from trying to contact an adopted child without the adoptive parents’ approval until the child turns 19. They delayed consideration of a bill to merge the Alabama Forestry Commission and the state Department of Agriculture and Industries and voted to go to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate on education funding.
  • Thursday (27th legislative day): The House passed bills to allow for the expungement of a criminal record if the charges were dropped or if there was not a conviction and to criminalize bestiality. The Senate approved the House-passed General Fund budget with minor changes, which included the one-time $400 bonus for state workers. Efforts to further amend the budget and provide for a recurring cost-of-living raise for state workers was defeated on a roll call vote. They also passed bills allowing prosecutors to gain access to certain juvenile court records regarding children; revising the separation of powers article of the State Constitution; and granting limited powers to county commissions in the state. Proposed constitutional changes require a vote of the people before enactment.

Next Week
The Legislature is off this week for Spring Break. The House and Senate return on Tuesday, April 1, at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively for the 28th day of the 2014 regular session.

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