4/2/2018 Group Watch: Ivey Attends Installment of AU President

Governor Kay Ivey was present for the installment ceremony for Auburn University President Steven Leath. Leath left Iowa State University in 2017 to become Auburn University’s 19thpresident. Ivey said that, “This is a great day in our state and in the life of our beloved Auburn University.” Governor Ivey is an Auburn University alum.

4/2/2018 Group Watch: Ethics Exemption Passes

One exception to the session’s smooth sailing was an ethics law exemption. Last week, a divided  Legislature voted to exempt economic developers from the state law that governs lobbyists. On Thursday, the House gave final approval to the bill voting 52-22 to accept Senate changes. Lawmakers were splintered over whether the change was needed for job recruitment or risked creating a loophole in the state ethics law. Under the bill, economic developers would not be considered lobbyists and would not register with the state and disclose activity as lobbyists do. The Senate approved the bill on a 15-14 vote.

4/2/2018 Group Watch: Session Wrap-Up: Pass or Fail

While the Legislature’s 2018 Regular Session was pretty free from conflict and controversy, it also only saw 323 of the 992 bills filed actually pass. Read more in Alabama Today‘s detailed report, here.

4/2/2018 Group Watch: Rural Internet Access Expanding

The Legislature passed the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act. Telecommunication companies worked to get support for the new law that provides tax incentives to get people in rural areas internet speeds in excess of 25 megabits per second. Telecommunication companies worked to get support for the new law, which is believed to be worth more than $10 million of incentives. The federal spending plan passed by Congress contains a $500 million pilot program for the USDA to help get broadband to those that are woefully underserved. Governor Ivey has already signed the bill into law.

March 26, 2018 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The 2018 Regular Session is winding down, but there was still plenty of activity in both he House and Senate last week. This week is expected to mark the end of the session.
  • On Tuesday (21st day of session): The House passed bills of local application only and general bills already passed by the Senate to further provide for ignition interlock provisions for those convicted of driving under the influence; to establish the Rural Broadband Act to support investment in infrastructure in rural areas; to further provide for the sale of land for unpaid taxes; and to create the Alabama Rural Hospital Resource Center within the University of Alabama at Birmingham.The Senate passed a number of local bills including legislation to set the term of office for the Jefferson County Board of Education in Birmingham.
  • On Wednesday (22nd day of session): The House passed several bills of local application only and Senate-passed bills to establish the Alabama Cyber Engineering School and to increase the amount liquor for sale produced on-site for off-site consumption by Alabama manufacturers. The Senate approved bills of local application only and House-passed bills to establish a tax deduction for contributions to first-time home-buyer savings accounts to save funds for a down payment and closing costs; to authorize federally-qualified health centers to deliver medications to clinics; and to provide that income tax credit only offset liability from non-Alabama sources.
  • On Thursday (23rd day of session): The House passed several bills of local application only and approved Senate-passed bills relating to drowsy driving and to require public water systems to notify the State Health Officer when changes are made to fluoride levels; to provide for clarification and additions to the Engineers and Land Surveyors Board; and to further provide for membership and duties of the state Pilotage Commission. The Senate passed a number of House-passed bills of local application only and House-passed general bills to provide for the qualifications of the Secretary for Early Childhood Education; to further provide for the Alabama Move Over Act; and to create the school safety and security task force.

3/26/2018 Group Watch: House Closes Drunk Driving Law Loophole

Stricter regulations will be imposed on drunk drivers after a bill to close a loophole in the law and reduce road deaths passed on Tuesday in the House with a final vote of 98-0. The legislation will require drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device after their first offense. An ignition interlock analyzes a driver’s breath and prevents a car from being started if alcohol is detected.

3/26/2018 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

March 25
Sad news this morning. Milton McGregor reportedly passed away last night. Our prayers go out to his family and many many friends. #alpolitics

3/26/2018 Group Watch: New Opioid Restrictions

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama announced a new strategy to help battle the opioid epidemic in the state. In 2015 and 2016, Alabama had the highest rate of opioid drugs prescribed per capita. Starting April 1, all BCBS members receiving new prescriptions for short-acting opioids will be limited to a seven-day supply for the initial fill. If more than a seven-day supply is needed, members can ask the doctor to submit a one-time Prior Authorization for the medicine. The changes will not affect those with cancer or those currently receiving opioids.

3/26/2108 Group Watch: Legislature Approves Budget

The Alabama Senate agreed with changes the House made to the General Fund budget, which includes a boost in funding for prisons and covers the cost of a pay raise for state employees. The plan calls for the allocation of $2 billion from the General Fund for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2018. The Department of Corrections would get an extra $56 million more than the current year. The budget includes a 3 percent cost of living raise for state workers, their first in 10 years. The Medicaid funding is up $54 million.

3/26/2018 Group Watch: Gov. Signs Child Care Bill

A bill that would license many more currently unregulated religious daycare facilities in the state was signed into law by Governor Ivey last week. The bill was proposed following the deaths and illnesses of several children at unregulated facilities across the state. The new law will require religious daycare centers and those that receive federal or state funding to go through DHR’s licensing process and abide by the department’s minimum safety standards.

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