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April 11, 2016 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

After Governor Bentley made good on his statement to veto the General Fund budget, the legislature wasted no time over-riding that veto, while the Senate earned the governor’s praise for passing his prison bond plan (see articles below). Meanwhile, plenty of other non-headline-grabbing but still important business got done last week:

On Tuesday, April 5 (19th day of the session):

  • The House passed bills of local application only, including a measure affecting the salaries of certain local officials in Mobile County and to provide for a local referendum to authorize Sunday alcohol sale in Rainbow City (Etowah County).
  • The House passed other bills of local application only to provide for additional distribution of sales and use tax in Blount County and authorize the operation of golf carts on the public streets in Baldwin County.
  • The House also passed general bills to exempt prescription drugs from business license tax based on gross receipts in certain circumstances and to provide tax credits for certain capital contributions to small businesses in Alabama.
  • The Senate passed general bills to authorize possession of a firearm on certain property under certain circumstances and to exempt employees hired in the Community College System after January 1, 2017, from the Students First Act of 2011.
  • The Senate also passed a proposed constitutional amendment requiring legislative authority to issue bonds for certain purposes with proceeds from the Deepwater Oil Spill Disaster Settlement and approved the Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative Act that will provide for the construction of new prison facilities to comply with federal consent decree.
  • Learn more about what the Senate got done on this day on the“Senate Minute” video, here.)

On Wednesday, April 6  (a committee day):

  • The House Education Policy Committee approved a Senate-passed bill to provide annual suicide prevention education training in Alabama’s public schools, to prohibit local school boards from adopting or enforcing zero-tolerance policies relating to drugs, alcohol, weapons, actual or threatened physical harm to a person on a case-by-case-basis; and to authorize the Department of Human Resources Commissioner to establish and manage public and charter schools to post signs with the hotline number for reporting child abuse.
  • The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved a bill to expedite the quiet title procedure relating to tax sale properties.
  • The House State Government Committee approved bills to require the Retirement Systems of Alabama to adopt investment reporting standards and to require the Retirement Systems of Alabama to permit employees hired after January 1, 2017, be required to participate in individual retirement accounts and to opt-out of the traditional program.
  • The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approve a bill to prohibit certain school officials and others from participation in the Teachers’ Retirement System.

On Thursday, April 7  (20th day of the session):

  • The House passed bills of local application only relating to the expense allowance of the tax assessor in Wilcox County and the expense allowance of the county commission chair in Houston County and to the transfer of certain duties from the judge of probate to the revenue commissioner in Autauga County.
  • The House also passed general bills to allow financial institutions to use tax credits to offset the state portion of tax in certain circumstances and to create the Human Trafficking Safe Harbor Act to protect children from certain predatory acts.
  • The Senate passed bills to preclude governmental entities from entering into contracts with entities that boycott persons or entities with whom the state enjoys open trade and to make it a crime to distribute a private image.

Other Points of Interest From Last Week

  • The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee approved a bill that moves an intentional assault on police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical workers and utility workers up from a Class C felony to a Class B felony, which carries a longer sentence.

Mayors from Alabama’s largest cities (Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa) were in the capital city last week to urge state leaders  to support funding for infrastructure.

The House and Senate reconvene on Tuesday, April 12, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively. Find a link to live audio of both chambers here.

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