4/8/2019 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

April 6
This morning, I was honored to host my first Easter Egg hunt at the Governor’s Mansion for children in the @MagicMomentsALprogram. It was refreshing to see so many little ones running across the lawn to gather eggs & meet the Easter Bunny! #BeyondtheMoment

4/8/2019 Group Watch: Rural Economic Development Coordinator Coming

Alabama has created a position to speed economic development for its non-urban areas. Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield recently announced the new position of rural development manager, which should be filled in the coming weeks. The position will provide technical assistance to rural communities under consideration for economic development projects. The coordinator will also assist and provide training for rural communities looking to become more competitive in the development process. Rural lawmakers are praising the move to help economic development in rural parts of the state.

4/8/2019 Group Watch: Prison Problems

The U. S. Department of Justice announced there is reasonable cause to believe that conditions in Alabama prisons violate the Constitution. The report focuses on riveting accounts of violence and death inside the crowed and dangerously understaffed facilities. The governor’s office said the Alabama Department of Corrections already acknowledged many of the issues in the DOJ’s findings letter. Governor Ivey has asked the legislature for $40 million to address the issues in the Department.

March 25, 2019 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature’s 2019 Regular Session resumed last week, and it was a busy one before the body took a week’s break. (Both chambers reconvene on April 2). Here’s a recap:
  • Tuesday, Day 2 of Regular Session: The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee approved a bill to authorize the hunting of whitetail deer or feral swine by means of bait when the privilege is purchased. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved bills to exempt legislative redistricting bills from being read at length prior to final passage; to allow athletic agents to pay certain expenses to a student athlete or the family of the athlete; to provide a an income tax refund check-off for a contribution to We Build the Wall, Inc.; and to add the chairs of the House Ways and Means General Fund and Education and the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund and Education Committees to the Contract Review Permanent Legislative Oversight Committee.
  • Wednesday, Day 3 of Regular Session: The House had no bills in position for final passage. The House Judiciary Committee approved several bills including bills to provide for the appointment by the circuit court of court referees to handle domestic relations child support cases and to allow statements to be entered into evidence in cases if they were made by a child under the age of 12 during a forensic interview and pertain to allegations of abuse against a child. The House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee approved a bill to expand and clarify requirements for membership of child advocacy centers. The House Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee approved a large number of sunset bills relating to various agencies and boards. The Senate passed one bill relating to county housing authorities and the electronic posting of notices to potential purchasers of bonds. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved several bills including bills to authorize voluntary transfers to pretrial diversion programs by municipal courts and to address the proliferation of telemarketers and telephone solicitation. The Senate Education Policy Committee approved several bills, including one to terminate Common Core Curriculum Standards in K-12 education.
  • Thursday, Day 4 of Regular Session: The House passed a large number of bills of local application only and a large number of bills under the Sunset provision continuing the operation of a number of state boards and commissions including the State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. The Senate passed several general bills including bills to provide an income tax refund check-off for a contribution to We Build the Wall and to repeal Common Core Curriculum Standards in education.

3/25/2019 Group Watch: Lottery Plan Announced

State Senator Jim McClendon of Springville announced this week he is introducing legislation to establish a state lottery. McClendon said that people in his district would like to be able to a lottery ticket without leaving the state like people in 45 other states can do. He stated that his proposal requires a vote of the people and is not intended to solve budget problems while dividing the revenue between the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund. McClendon said his preference would be to have the measure on the ballot in the presidential primary in March 2020 because of the large number of voters would be participating.

3/25/2019 Group Watch: Community College System Expanding Programs

Alabama’s community college system has inked a deal to expand students’ access to aerospace, manufacturing and defense industry training. The Alabama Community College System and Huntsville’s Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation’s University Consortium are partnering to advance emerging technology programs. The agreement will lead to the creation of a system engineering technology degree. Students could study aerospace, automotive manufacturing, maritime, digital transformation and engineering technology.

3/25/2019 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 22
Happy Birthday @willainsworthAL!!!

March 18, 2019 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The first Special Session of the Alabama Legislature in 2019 resumed and concluded last week, with Governor Ivey and others pushing for infrastructure improvements quickly and decisively reaching their goals. This extraordinary session provided a major policy and legislative achievement for Governor Ivey. Here are the details.
  • Monday, Day 4 of Special Session: The House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee approved two Senate-passed bills relating to the registration, width and weight restrictions of ATVs and providing technical changes to the Department of Transportation long-range planning process. Those measures received a second reading later in the day before the full House, placing them in a position for final passage on the following day. The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee approved House-passed bills to provide technical changes to the Department of Transportation long range planning process, to authorize the issuance of bonds to improve the Mobile Ship Channel, and a 10-cent gas tax increase, electric vehicle fees and accountability measures. The full Senate received the second reading of the bills, thus making them available for final passage on the following day.
  • Tuesday, Day 5 of Special Session: The Senate gave final passage to bills providing a 10-cent gas tax, electric vehicle fees and accountability measures and to authorize the issuance of bonds for improvement to the Mobile Ship Channel. They also passed, with changes, a bill making changes to long-range planning process in the Department of Transportation. The House quickly concurred with the Senate changes, and all three measures went to the governor, who promptly signed them into law.

3/18/2019 Group Watch: Improved Training for School Resource Officers

Governor Kay Ivey awarded a grant to improve training of 40 school resource officers. The training will go to officers in Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore, Butler, Crenshaw, Lowndes, Macon, Pike and Tallapoosa counties. In addition to the training conducted by the National Association of School Resource Officers, Central Alabama Crimestoppers will give instruction on its tip reward and gun deterrent programs, which enable students to report school safety violations to authorities. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant from funds made available to the state from the U.S. Department of Justice.

3/18/2019 Group Watch: Coming Soon-Session Expectations

The legislature is expected to pass an Education Trust Fund budget, which for the first time ever will exceed $7 billion, and the roughly $2 billion General Fund budget for non-education agencies will remain a top priority. Included in the General Fund budget are major programs like Medicaid, prisons and public safety. Reliable sources say that a constitutional amendment allowing for the creation of a state lottery will be filed, with proceeds being split between the General Fund and Education Trust Fund. Such a proposal, which requires a vote of the people, could provide a revenue stream to address the long-running problems in the prison system as well as the rapidly closing small hospitals across the state.

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