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April 27, 2015 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

This past week in the Alabama Legislature, the Senate was deep in debate about Medicaid, the House passed bills related to voting and a bill allowing the medical use of marijuana made it through a Senate committee.

  • Tuesday (15th Day of Regular Session): The Senate became mired in debate after passing a resolution asking the governor not to expand Medicaid and ended the day without passing bills. The House passed several bills related to voting and the elections process that include approving a list of felony offenses that disqualify Alabamians from being able to vote, but excludes those convicted drug possession. The House also passed bills to authorize the Secretary of State to share voter lists with other states free of charge; to bar members of the Board of Registrars from running for elective public office while serving on the board; to notify absentee voters of defective and uncounted ballots; and to establish a procedure for local board of registrars for investigating reports of death  or non-residence of a voter for purposes of purging the name from the list of eligible voters.
  • Wednesday (Committee Day): The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee voted 9-1 against a Senate-passed bill to repeal an increase in the driver’s license fee. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said the fee increase was needed to help cover the cost of issuing licenses. The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee approved bills to delay for one year a scheduled $15 million repayment to the Alabama Trust Fund and to allow up to $60 million from bonds to be used for prison construction. The committee is expected to take up the General Fund budget in two weeks. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on a 4-3 vote to enact the Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act, which would allow the use of marijuana for defined medical purposes. Many will be watching to see if the Senate leadership will allow the measure to come up for debate on the floor.
  • Thursday (16th Day of Regular Session): The House passed Senate-passed bills to establish a new state board to oversee the state’s two year colleges and the Right of Publicity Act to define the elements and scope for infringement. They also passed a local Jefferson County bill designating that a member of the county retirement system shall be a retiree and a measure further regulating the payday loan industry. The Senate passed Sunset Legislation continuing the Historical Commission; State Board for Architects; General Contractors Licensing Board, Security Regulatory Board; Athletic Commission; and the Board of Examiners for Landscape Architects.

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