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February 15, 2016 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The legislature convened last Tuesday for the third day of the 2016 session, and members were met with big healthcare news. They also moved along a bill to strengthen the penalties for child abuse.

On Tuesday, February 9:

  • The federal government has given the state approval to change the delivery of Medicaid and move to a managed care system that many hope will control cost growth and lead to better outcomes. Alabama was granted an 1115 waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which will allow the state to create 11 regional care organizations (RCOs) to enroll Medicaid patients with the goal of encouraging preventive care and cutting costs. The state could receive up to $748 million from the federal government over the next five years to implement the program. At least $328 million will go to set up the RCOs over three years.
  • The House passed bills to empower the Governor to appoint a taxpayer advocate in the Department of Revenue and to extend a $1500 tax credit to businesses with 75 or fewer employees for creating jobs paying $40,000 or more a year.
  • The Senate passed bills to further define the crime of aggravated child abuse that results in the death of a child and to further provide for penalties involving the aggravated child abuse of a child under the age of six years old.

On Wednesday, February 10 (committee day):

  • The House Ways and Means Education Committee gave a favorable report to the Alabama Ahead Act relating to the use of technology equipment in schools.
  • The House State Government Committee gave a favorable report to a bill to require communication service providers to provide location information to law enforcement upon request when there is a risk of serious injury or death involved.
  • The House Boards, Agencies and Commissions gave a favorable to a bill to further define the practice of social work.
  • The House State Government Committee gave a favorable report to a bill to prohibit practices relating to employers and employee relationships regarding leave, benefits and minimum salary requirements.
  • The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee gave a favorable report to a bill to provide tax credits for hiring veterans.
  • The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to a bill to require all professional education associations be given the same access to represent employees of public school districts.

On Thursday, February 11:

  • The House passed one bill of local application only and spent the remainder of the day embroiled in debate over a bill relating to the disposition of fetal tissue (Unborn Infants Dignity of Life Act).
  • The Senate passed sunset bills to continue the Board of Social Work Examiners; the Board of Funeral Service; the Board of Court Reporting; the Department of Insurance; and the Board of Examiners in Counseling. They also passed a bill to allow top executives of the Ethics Commission to provide contract work following retirement for a transitional period of time.

The House and Senate reconvene on Tuesday February 16 at 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm respectively.

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