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February 13, 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature began last Tuesday, and legislators wasted no time diving into some important and interesting work. Here’s a quick recap of the first two days and the pressing issues facing them:

  • The Medicaid Commissioner reported another Medicaid crisis. The Bentley Administration is hoping that the federal government will block grant the state their share of the Medicaid money with no strings attached about who gets coverage and deductibles.
  • Building prisons is the governor’s No. 1 priority. Alabama prisons are drastically overcrowded, and the governor wants the legislature to approve an $800 million bond issue to address constitutional deficiencies.
  • While the 2010 census is in the past for most Alabamians, the state is still trying to get a legislative redistricting plan through the Federal court system. Three state senate seats and nine house seats were recently ruled unconstitutional and the state is forbidden from using those districts ever again. During this session, the Joint Committee on Redistricting is going to have to draw up a new plan to satisfy the plaintiffs and Federal court prior to the 2018 election.
  • Roadbuilders want more money to fund needed road and bridge work across the state. As cars have become more fuel efficient, gas tax revenues have stagnated, leaving less state money available to draw down Federal road and bridge funds
  • Alabama is a pro-gun rights state however there is still debate on just what gun rights mean. A bill has been introduced to allow citizens carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
  • Sanctuary cities became an issue after the Birmingham City Council passed a resolution declaring the state’s largest city open as a sanctuary.

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