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April 18, 2016 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

With the General Fund Budget done, attention was turned to the Education Budget. And a transportation bill, which passed almost unanimously in both the House and Senate, was one of the other important votes last week.

On Tuesday, April 12 (21st day of the session):

  • The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved a House-passed Education Budget with changes, appropriations for Talladega College, Lyman Ward Military Academy and Tuskegee University. The proposed budget includes an absolute 4-percent pay raise for K-12 education employees and a conditional, one-time lump sum bonus for retired educators.
  • The House passed a number of bills with local application only: to provide additional fees for the Shelby County Probate Court; to provide for a referendum for Sunday alcohol sales in Cherokee County; to authorize additional sales tax in Randolph County for jail construction; and to establish continuing education requirements for the Wilcox County Sheriff’s office. They also passed general bills to require wireless communications providers to provide to law enforcement location information of a customer upon request; to protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation; and to exempt from sales, use and rental tax certain subscription services.
  • The Senate passed general bills to require municipal or county business tax for home health and hospice are due only where the headquarters or branch office is located. If this legislation becomes law, it would cost cities thousands of dollars and put a strain on already stretched budgets.
  • Learn more about what the Senate got done on this day on the“Senate Minute” video, here.)

On Wednesday, April 13 (22nd day of the session):

  • The House Health Committee approved a bill to extend the time period for probationary certification of regional care organizations (RCO’s).
  • The Senate Education and Youth AffairsCommittee approved bills to delete the requirement that county superintendents of education maintain an office at the county seat, and to allow 6 year olds to enroll in the first grade.
  • The Senate approved a House-passed Education Budget with changes that includes a 4-percent pay increase for K-12 education employees and a conditional, one-time bonus for retired educators. They also approved House-passed appropriations for Talladega College and Lyman Ward Military Academy. The Education Budget now goes to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions. The budget is the largest Education Budget since 2008 and the first to include a pay raise for teachers in several years.
  • A bill establishing the Alabama Safety Transportation Fund was passed and ushers in the use of a new way to fund bridges and roads in the state that provides more local control. It was passed with an overwhelming majority.
  • The House Jefferson County Local Legislation Committee approved a bill to prohibit members of the Birmingham City Council from serving on other city boards.
  • The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved bills affecting how municipal governing boards may increase salary and expense allowances, and the process by which water, sewer, and fire protection authorities cover adjoining territory.
  • The House passed a bill of local application only relating to the Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages in Jackson County. They also passed general bills relating to possession Cannabidiol for certain debilitating health conditions; to authorize additional board members for municipal works boards serving multiple counties; and to provide for the allocation and apportionment by the Department of Revenue of excise tax paid by financial institutions.

The House and Senate reconvene on Tuesday, April 19, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively. Find a link to live audio of both chambers here.

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