Highlights from Week 10 and a Look at What’s Ahead for Week 11
March 19, 2018
The Legislature finished the 20th legislative day last Thursday. There are only 10 working days remaining in the 2018 session. It was an exciting week with both the Education Trust Fund (ETF) and the General Fund receiving passage in both houses. After final passage of the budgets, by law, the legislature can adjourn sine die. However, there will be legislators that want to get their bills passed before adjournment. Let’s look at the highlights from last week and look at what’s ahead for week 11.
The Education Trust Fund Budget Passes Senate
Last week, the Alabama Senate approved a $6.6 billion Education Trust Fund (ETF) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. HB 175, sponsored by Representative Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), was carried on the Senate floor by his counterpart, Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). The FY 2019 ETF is the largest education budget since 2008.
The ETF appropriates $4.5 billion to K-12 education and $1.65 billion to higher education, with $381 million set aside for other educational entities.
Another bill traveling with the ETF is HB 174 that provides for a 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers and other educational staff.
There were some changes made to the budget in the Senate, so the bill will go back to the House for concurrence or conferees will be picked to come to an agreement in conference committee.
Sen. Arthur Orr
Rep. Bill Poole
The General Fund Budget Passes the House
Last Tuesday, the House passed SB 178, the General Fund budget. General Fund Chairman Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) presented the bill to the body. There was a spirit of bipartisanship on the floor as the budget presented was much healthier than in years past.
The General Fund contains all non-education entities in the state, such as Medicaid, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Mental Health, among others. Most agencies were level funded for 2019, but the Department of Corrections and Medicaid received an increased appropriation.
For Fiscal Year 2019, the General Fund appropriated $472 million of the $2 billion dollar budget to the Department of Corrections to satisfy a court order to provide more funding to prisons for mental healthcare.
Medicaid claims the bulk of the General Fund budget, with $755 million appropriated for Fiscal Year 2019.
SB 178, as outlined above, passed 98-1. The bill will be sent back to the Senate for concurrence, or members will be picked for resolution in conference committee.
Gun Bill Passes House Committee
Last Thursday, the House Committee on Public Safety & Homeland Security passed a bill that would arm teachers or school administrators.
HB 435, sponsored by Rep. Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville), was introduced in response to recent school shootings in Florida and Alabama.
Under Ainsworth's bill, a teacher or school administrator can be designated to carry a gun on campus after completing 40 hours of firearms safety training. Under the bill, a school principal, the local superintendent or the sheriff or chief of police would recommend specific teachers or administrators to carry a gun, with the approval of the local school board. Annual firearm assessments are required for any teacher or administrator approved to carry.
The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee approved it on a 5-4 vote, mainly along party lines.
HB 435 will see action on the House floor on Tuesday.
Daycare Bill Ready for Governor’s Signature
The Alabama Senate voted 22-4 for legislation that will require faith-based daycare centers that receive any state or federal funds to get licensed by the state. Under existing law, child care facilities that are part of a church or nonprofit religious school are exempt from licensing.
According to the Department of Human Resources, half of Alabama’s daycare centers operate without a license.
The first draft of HB 76, sponsored by Representative Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee), would have mandated all exempted daycare centers to get licensed with the Department of Human Resources but pressure from conservative groups resulted in the compromise. The bill will also provide for employee background checks and fire safety regulations.
HB 76 now goes to the Governor for her signature.
What’s Ahead This Week
Once the budgets pass with concurrence and await Governor Ivey’s signature, legislators will be jockeying for position to pass their bills of interest and their local bills next week. Talk at the State House is that the Legislature will work for one or two more weeks and then sine die to return home and begin campaigning for the June 5th primaries.