Highlights from Week 7 of the Legislative Session and a Look at What’s Ahead for Week 8
February 27, 2018
Last Thursday marked the 14th day of the Alabama Legislative Session. Today marks the halfway point as the constitution provides for 30 working days and 105 calendar days. Last week, the General Fund Budget passed in the Senate. Let’s look at the highlights from last week, and take a look at what’s ahead for this week.
General Fund Budget Passes Senate
Last Tuesday, the Senate voted 26-2 to pass a $2 billion General Fund Budget, SB 178, sponsored by Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose). Unlike years past, the General Fund is healthier for Fiscal Year 2019 due in part to a savings of $92 million and overall growth in revenue. The Department of Corrections will receive an increase of $56 million to address staffing shortages and increased funding for physical and mental health care. Other agencies that received increases are Medicaid and the Department of Mental Health. Most other agencies were level funded.
The General Fund Budget now moves to the House for consideration.
Gun Bills Introduced
Due to the tragic deaths of 17 individuals at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many legislators around the country are bringing legislation to curb gun violence. HB 435, a bill sponsored by Representative Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville), would allow trained, certified teachers and administrators to carry a pistol on school campuses. Teachers and administrators who carry guns would be required to receive 40 hours of training through the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (APOST) and receive a mental health evaluation. The state would pay the cost of training but not the cost of the guns.
HB 435 has been assigned to the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Senate Judiciary Approves Day Care Proposal
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved HB 76, the Child Care Safety Act, sponsored by Representative Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee), which would require certain day cares centers to be licensed. The bill states that church-affiliated day care facilities would be required to be licensed by the state if they receive state or federal subsidies or operate for a profit. Other facilities may remain exempt from licensing but would be subject to new state regulations enforced by the Department of Human Resources.
HB 76 moves to the Senate floor for consideration.
Ethics Bill Introduced in Senate
SB 343, sponsored by Senate Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston), would fine-tune confusing language contained in the ethics law of 2010. Senator Marsh is working with Attorney General Steve Marshall to tighten restrictions and clear up vague language.
According to the legislative synopsis, the bill’s purpose is to:
- reaffirm and clarify that public officials cannot be lobbyists nor serve as consultants for businesses that have any interests before the Legislature
- revise the definition of a “principal” to clarify what non-government officials the law’s requirements apply to and which it does not
- create the crime of extortion of a public official or public employee by persons attempting to corruptly influence the action of a public official or public employee
- exempt lower-profile public employees like teachers and police officers from certain requirements and prohibitions in order to focus the law on elected officials and high-level government employees who are better positioned to use their office for personal gain
- revise the definition of thing of value to specify the circumstances in which gifts, proceeds from the sale of property, and prospective or actual compensation from an employer are not a thing of value.
SB 343 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Constitution, Ethics, and Elections.
This week, the legislature will focus on passing the budgets. Each budget has passed its house of origin and is awaiting agendas approval in the other house. All indications continue to point to the legislature passing the budgets in the next two weeks and adjourning sine die to give legislators additional time to campaign before the June 5th primary. It should be an interesting next couple of weeks!