Category: Alabama Legislature
The Alabama Department of Transportation is considering allowing law enforcement agencies access to ALDOT rights-of-way and structures to install license plate readers and other surveillance equipment.
At least one Alabama lawmaker said legislation may be needed to regulate the use of the devices and information they collect.
Tony Harris, government relations manager for ALDOT, told Alabama Daily News the proposed rules are a result of recent requests from multiple police agencies.
Some Alabama lawmakers say they still have questions about Gov. Kay Ivey’s possible selection of private companies to build three state prisons, a process that so far has largely excluded the Legislature.
Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, told Alabama Daily News he plans to send Ivey’s office a letter this week asking if contracting out prison services is an option she’s considering in bids recently submitted to the Alabama Department of Corrections.
“I’m just going to ask point blank,” Ward said. “I am going to be 100% opposed to privately run prisons. That’s a big policy shift that the Legislature should be involved in.”
A House committee on Tuesday approved a $7.2 billion 2021 education budget, a first critical step in funding the state’s public schools, community colleges and universities.
The proposed 2021 Education Trust Fund contains an increase of about $91 million from the 2020 fiscal year budget, but less than the $411 million increase Gov. Kay Ivey proposed before the coronavirus pandemic altered state revenues.
The Alabama Senate on Tuesday passed a General Fund budget totaling $2.389 billion. It includes modest increases for mental health, public health and state prisons, but no state employee pay raises that were expected earlier this year.
The fiscal year 2021 budget, which pays for non-education state agencies and services, contains $167 million more than the budget for the current fiscal year, but less than the record levels projected before the coronavirus outbreak impacted the state’s economy.
The Alabama Senate this week will consider legislation giving it and the House significant say in how the state’s nearly $1.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief money, and future funds, are spent.
The Senate General Fund budget committee last week amended an existing bill, Senate Bill 161 related to supplemental appropriations, to create a three-person panel of the governor and the Legislature’s two General Fund budget chairmen to make decisions about that money.
“This is almost equal to the General Fund budget; we believe it makes sense that we have a voice,” Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, told Alabama Daily News.
Concerns about the coronavirus will keep lawmakers out of the State House another week, their planned resumption of the legislative session now May 4, as reported first by Inside Alabama Politics.
The session has been on hold since mid-March and lawmakers had hoped to be back next Tuesday.
MONTGOMERY — A bill that would set a statewide standard for deploying 5G cellular infrastructure, including how much money cities can charge providers for access to existing utility structures, has support from multiple lawmakers, but municipal leaders say the bill takes away too much local control.
Senate Bill 172 would mandate a request process for cities to follow when approached by wireless providers such as AT&T and Verizon and sets a cap on the fees municipalities can charge companies for the use of city-owned rights-of-ways.
It passed out of the Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development committee last week with no opposition.
Gov. Kay Ivey’s proposed 2021 General Fund budget includes money for a range of one-time projects focused on mental health, forensic sciences and youth services.
Ivey’s budget includes funds for a new forensic science lab in North Alabama and more beds at one of the state’s three mental health hospitals in Tuscaloosa.
Also, money for renovations at the Department of Youth Services’ residential facility near Montgomery is included in capital project line items totaling $95.3 million. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — Bills to improve student literacy and hold back third-graders who can’t read proficiently, define free speech on college campuses, and allocate the state’s $2.1 billion General Fund budget received final passage Thursday as lawmakers wind down their 2019 legislative session.
Friday is likely the last day of the session, and some major legislation is still pending, including the state’s education budget. Lawmakers from both chambers will meet Friday morning to work out differences in the $7.1 billion education budget, and a final vote is expected by the end of the day.
MONTGOMERY — Legislation aimed at reining in pharmacy benefit managers to save consumers money passed the House by a 101-0 vote Thursday and now heads to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk for her signature.
Senate Bill 73, dubbed the Alabama Pharmacy Benefit Managers Licensure and Regulation Act, was sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and passed the Senate on May 15 by a 27-0 vote.
The bill requires pharmacy benefit managers to register with the Alabama Department of Insurance, and outlaws gag clauses that keep pharmacists from telling consumers about cheaper options for prescription drugs and claw backs the require them to charge more for medication.