Highlights from Week 11 of the Legislative Session and a Look at What’s Ahead for Week 12
March 27, 2018
The Alabama Legislature finished their 22nd legislative day last Thursday. Both the House and Senate worked long hours trying to pass legislation before adjourning sine die. Legislators plan on working two days this week and then adjourning on either Wednesday or Thursday. Let’s take a look at some highlights from week 11.
The General Fund Budget
Last Wednesday, Governor Kay Ivey signed SB 178, the General Fund Budget, into law. Governor Ivey also signed various accompanying legislation, including a three percent pay raise for state employees and a one-time lump-sum bonus of $1 per month for each year of service for retired state employees. For example, a state employee who worked 25 years, which is 300 months, would receive a one-time payment of $300.
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 budget to the Department of Corrections to satisfy a court order to provide more funding for mental health care.
Medicaid was appropriated $755 million for Fiscal Year 2019, which is the bulk of the General Fund.
The Education Trust Fund Budget
The $6.6 billion Education Trust Fund (ETF) for Fiscal Year 2019 has passed both houses of the Alabama Legislature and is awaiting a conference committee for concurrence and then final passage.
The ETF appropriates $4.5 billion to K-12 education and $1.65 billion to higher education, with some $381 million set aside for other educational entities.
Rural Broadband Bill Awaiting Governor’s Signature
SB 149, sponsored by Senator Clay Scofield (R-Arab), received final passage from the House last Wednesday. The bill was presented by Representative Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva) and passed with a vote of 100-0-1. SB 149 will encourage private investment in broadband infrastructure through business entities in unserved, rural areas. The Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund would be administered through the Alabama Department of Economic Affairs (ADECA) and would rely on appropriations from the Legislature or from federal or state grants. SB 149 was delivered to the Governor on Wednesday, March 21 and is awaiting her signature.
Alabama REALTORS® supports SB 149, the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act, because access to broadband internet is an important issue to consumers in rural housing across Alabama. Increasing access to broadband internet in rural and underserved areas of the state will increase opportunities for growth, homeownership and economic development.
Sen. Clay Scofield
Rep. Donnie Chesteen
Gov. Ivey Signs Bill to Allow Execution by Nitrogen Hypoxia
Last Thursday, Governor Kay Ivey signed into law a bill to allow Alabama to carry out executions by nitrogen hypoxia or nitrogen gas inhalation. This method would be an alternative to the current method of lethal injection that uses a combination of three drugs administered intravenously for execution.
Two other states, Oklahoma and Mississippi, have also adopted nitrogen hypoxia as a method for execution but have yet to use it.
Under the new law, death row inmates could choose to die by nitrogen hypoxia instead of lethal injection.
Senator Trip Pittman, (R-Montrose), sponsored the bill. The House of Representatives passed it by a vote of 75-23 on Tuesday. It passed the Senate 29-0 in February.
What’s Ahead This Week
The 2018 legislative session is coming to a close. Talk at the State House is that the legislature will work two days this week and then adjourn sine die. However, the Education Trust Fund (ETF) is in conference committee and when brought back for concurrence, it may meet some delay due to additional money appropriated to Alabama State University for dormitories. A filibuster on the ETF could result in the session continuing. However, after meeting two legislative days this week, only six possible legislative days would remain.