Category: Alabama Legislature
A bill that would allow no-excuse absentee voting in Alabama has support from the secretary of state, but it faced some pushback during a public hearing on Wednesday.
House Bill 396 from Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, removes the excuse provision for absentee voting and allows absentee election managers to appoint additional assistants.
Current law allows absentee voting only for a few reasons, including expecting to be out of the country, having a job that requires working a 10-hour shift that coincides with polling hours or having a homebound family member. Voters must check a box next to the reason that applies to them. Falsifying the application is a Class C felony, according to state law.
A bill in the Alabama Legislature would stop the growth of police jurisdictions in the state and rein in municipalities’ ability to enforce planning and zoning requirements outside their limits.
Senate Bill 107 from Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, was approved in the Senate 30-to-0 earlier this month. On Tuesday, it had a public hearing in the House County and Municipal Government Committee.
“What is before you is a bill that essentially freezes police jurisdictions where they currently exist, allowing the municipality to outgrow them in time,” Elliott said. “As amended, the bill freezes planning jurisdictions at a mile-and-a-half out from the current city limit lines. It continues to allow the collection of sales taxes to fund public safety in those jurisdictions. It also rolls back municipal authority over building permits (in the jurisdictions).” Read more.
A bill to legalize and regulate medical marijuana passed the Alabama Senate Wednesday, a major step forward in a years-long effort to allow the use of the drug to treat chronic pain and other conditions.
Senate Bill 46 sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana products to treat more than 16 qualifying medical conditions and symptoms listed in the bill, including post-traumatic stress disorder, autism spectrum disorder, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS-related nausea, and cancer-related chronic pain and nausea. An amendment added on the Senate floor by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, added sickle cell anemia to the list of approved conditions.
The bill would create a Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee regulations and licensing for medical marijuana cultivators, processors and dispensaries, and also would require a statewide seed-to-sale tracking system for all cannabis in the state.
MONTGOMERY — Legislation moving through the Legislature would create a sexual assault survivor “bill of rights” and set a requirement for how long law enforcement must preserve evidence from sexual assault cases.
Rep. Chip Brown, R-Hollinger’s Island, is sponsoring House Bill 137, which is scheduled to be considered in the House Tuesday.
“My whole purpose of this legislation is to try and protect sexual assault victims and help bring perpetrators and criminals to justice,” Brown told Alabama Daily News.
The Senate on Thursday approved a bill to allow home delivery of beer, wine and alcohol. Sen. Jabo Waggoner’s Senate Bill 126 sets up a delivery license process, fees and rules This legislation is the same as Rep. Gil Isbell’s House Bill 229, which has received committee approval. Isbell, R-Gadsden, last month said the legislation would allow companies such as Birmingham-based Shipt that bring people their groceries to also bring alcohol.
“It’s about the convenience; we’re in a busy world,” Isbell said.
The bills are separate from legislation to allow direct shipment of wine from wineries and retailers to Alabamians’ homes.
The Alabama House on Thursday approved a bill to modify retirement benefits for newer teachers in the state. Advocates say more attractive benefits, including the ability to roll over sick leave and collect retirement after 30 years, will help with the state’s teacher shortage.
The bill is a scaled-back version of legislation that has previously passed the House and died in the Senate.
Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, told Alabama Daily News that House Bill 93 will reduce disparity between the older Tier I and newer Tier II retirement tracks and help keep young teachers in the state.
MONTGOMERY — Here’s what happened in the State House on Thursday.
Senate Bill 113 was approved in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Arthur Orr’s bill would put limits on how law enforcement agencies can use artificial intelligence and facial recognition to make arrests. Other factors or evidence must be used, as well.
Legislation to organize and fund greater broadband internet expansion across the state passed its first committee vote on Wednesday with no opposition.
Senate Bill 215 is sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, who is also sponsoring a large gambling bill that if passed would be able to partially fund broadband efforts.
“It was very clear that there was a strong emphasis that if we were able to get a gaming package, we need to address broadband,” Marsh told Senate Tourism Committee members. He chairs that committee.
Read more on the legislative session.
Gov. Kay Ivey submitted her budget proposals to the Legislature Wednesday, asking for modest pay raises for teachers, school support staff and state workers, along with targeted funding increases for several programs, including the state’s troubled prison system.
Ivey’s proposed Education Trust Fund for fiscal year 2022 totals $7.65 billion, an increase of more than $440 million from the current fiscal year. Her General Fund budget totals $2.45 billion, which is a decrease of $31 million from the current year’s budget.
Both budgets are based on state tax revenue projections, which state finance officials are cautiously optimistic about at the moment. Both budgets also have mechanisms that direct excess revenue to “rainy day” accounts to prevent future budget cuts known as proration.