February 17, 2020 Group Watch: Vote on Medical Marijuana Bill

Republican Senator Tim Melson’s bill to make medical marijuana legal in Alabama has been introduced and will be heard in the Senate Judiciary committee on Wednesday. The bill would make marijuana legal to treat 15 conditions, including cancer and chronic pain, but it would only be available in the form of pills or creams, not for smoking or vaping or in edibles. Melson said he expects opposition (including from AL Attorney General Steve Marshall) but believes there are many in Alabama who could benefit from the use of medical marijuana.

February 17, 2020 Group Watch: Bills in Trouble

For all the bills that pass to become law, many more never make it, and some hit the wall pretty early in the session. Such is the fate of several bills introduced this year. A bill to make repaying payday loans easier by mandating more time (from as little as 10 days to 30 days) was voted down in committee in the Senate. A bill requiring transgender athletes in high school to compete based on their birth biological sex died in a House committee. And a bill proposing that police officers be added to the state’s hate crime law sailed through the House but was carried over by a Senate committee, so its future is unclear.

February 17, 2020 Group Watch: Genital Mutilation Bill Passes House

Last week, the House passed HB53, sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall (D-Huntsville). The bill, which now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee, outlaws female genital mutilation and provides criminal penalties for the offense. While it may surprise some, female genital mutilation is practiced in Western countries, including the United States, in diaspora communities. This bill will help protect young women in Alabama from the physical and mental trauma the practice causes.

February 17, 2020 Group Watch: AL Judge confirmed to U.S. Court of Appeals

The United States Senate confirmed Judge Andrew Brasher of Alabama as the next judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Senator Richard Shelby voted for his confirmation, and Senator Doug Jones voted against it. Brasher, currently a federal judge on the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Alabama, was nominated in November and his nomination officially sent to the Senate January 2020. Prior to his appointment to e bench, Judge Brasher served as Solicitor General for Alabama.

February 17, 2020 Group Watch: Husband of Rep. Terri Collins Dies

Thomas “Tom” Collins, a longtime volunteer worship leader and youth lay leader in Decatur and the husband of State Representative Terri Collins, died Sunday at age 63. Tom was renowned for his uplifting spiritual singing and Christian leadership and will be missed by all who knew him. We that The Bloom Group are blessed to have known him.

February 17, 2020 Group Watch: Ainsworth’s Workforce Commission Reports

Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s 21st Century Workforce Commission recently released its findings. The topline recommendation from the report is the creation of a cabinet-level coordinating agency to be called the Governor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development. The report calls for increased investment in areas highlighted by many of the state’s pre-existing workforce development initiatives; technical education, STEM classes for K-12 students, coordination between government and industry and bringing people back into the workforce through retraining.

February 10, 2020 Issue News & Views from the State House

The 2020 regular session of the Alabama Legislature is here. It began on Tuesday, February 4, and that evening, Governor Ivey delivered her State of the State address, where she outlined the priorities of the state and the challenges it is facing (see below for details). In the coming weeks, the legislature is likely to have bills concerning medical marijuana use and a state lottery, and there will probably be vigorous debate about legalized gambling, so this session is shaping up to be both provocative and transformational. Here’s a snapshot of the first week’s activity.

  • Wednesday, February 5 (committee day): Only a few committees met. The House State Government Committee approved bills to exempt certain leases of goods and services by County Boards of Education from the competitive bid law and to require the annexation of property overlapping police jurisdictions to be approved by all affected parties. The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved a bill to prohibit municipal occupational taxes unless they are authorized by local law. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to repeal the prohibition of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from appointing judges outside of a district from hearing cases in Jefferson County. The Senate Education Policy Committee approved bills to reduce speed in school zones in a municipality and to authorize the State Board of Education to issue alternative teaching certificates to qualified members of the Armed Forces.
  • Thursday, February 6 (2nd day of session): Both chambers met briefly to receive committee reports and introduction of bills before adjourning.

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

@AlabamaCounts
Jan 29
If Alabama comes back with a low census count, the state could lose a congressional seat in Washington, DC. #ALcounts

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: Celebrating Senator Jabo Waggoner

At the start of the session on Tuesday, Senators passed a resolution designating Senator J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner of Jefferson County the “Centennial Senator.” Senator Waggoner began his 100th legislative session on Tuesday; this feat was accomplished over 48 years in the Alabama Legislature and includes regular, organizational and special sessions. We salute the Senator for his service to Alabama.

February 10, 2020 Group Watch: State of the State

During Tuesday night’s State of the State address, Governor Kay Ivey laid out her bipartisan approach to find solutions to matters ranging from infrastructure funding to the state education system. She highlighted road projects in 48 of the state’s 67 counties and said there are more to come. Ivey stressed the importance of criminal reform and the need for new prisons to address unconstitutional overcrowding. She once again noted that this is an Alabama problem and requires an “Alabama solution.” The governor touted the state’s nationally recognized First Class Pre-K program and is proposing a $1 billion bond issue for K-12 and the state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities. She praised the Department of Human Resources for leading the nation over the past two years in the permanent placement of foster children in adopted homes. She is continuing her emphasis on rural healthcare and is asking the legislature to build three new crisis centers in the state for persons facing mental health challenges. She also recognized families of law enforcement persons killed in the line of duty over the last year and praised their service, dedication and sacrifice.

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