MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature met for the 24th day of its 30-day regular session Tuesday. Here are some highlights of what happened at the State House.
Bill Ensuring Hospital, Nursing Home Visitation Rights Goes to Governor
Committee OKs Inmate IDs for Absentee Voting, Kills Curbside Voting
Broadband Expansion Bill Heads to Full House
Drive-Through Alcohol Bill Passes House
Free Menstrual Products in Schools Passes First Vote
Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday announced the pardons of more than 15,000 Birmingham residents convicted of marijuana possession, declaring that “one small mistake should not define an entire lifetime.”
The pardons — which were announced April 20, an unofficial holiday celebrating cannabis — covers residents with closed marijuana possession cases in the Birmingham Municipal Court between 1990 and 2020.
The pardons are part of Woodfin’s Pardons for Progress program, launched in November 2019, which was meant to remove employment barriers for people who had been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Tuesday approved legislation changing the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, putting new rules on what law enforcement can take from those charged with low-level drug offenses.
Advocacy groups have argued for years that current law allows police to seize property even without a conviction, which they say disproportionately hurts low-income individuals and minorities.
“This will put better boundaries around the property of people and raise the bar for the government seizing it and forfeiting it for low-level charges,” Sen. Arthur Orr told Alabama Daily News.
Commissioner Joe Knight said Jefferson County is “getting close” to making a deal to provide a new home for the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.
During their committee meeting Tuesday, commissioners discussed a memorandum of understanding with the Humane Society and U.S. Steel to buy two lots along Lakeshore Parkway at Sydney Drive. GBHS would purchase a third lot and build an animal hospital and adoption control facility at the site.
Commissioners agreed to take up the issue during their formal meeting Thursday. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — A new report from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention says child maltreatment, abuse and neglect have cost the state around $3.7 billion.
Various community organizers and state agencies that work to prevent child abuse gathered at the State House on Tuesday to present the report and stress to legislators the importance of investing in the prevention of child maltreatment.
“You can pay now or you can pay later; you can’t do more with less,” Sallye Longshore, director of the ADCANP, said.
More from the Legislature:
Major banks have backed off of financing two of the three proposed new prisons in Alabama, leaving opponents of Gov. Kay Ivey’s plan to lease the prisons from private groups hopeful that any deals related to the third site, in Brierfield, also would hit a snag.
Bloomberg News reported Monday that the sudden about-face by Barclays and Keybanc took financial traders by surprise.
The prisons in Escambia and Elmore counties are slated to be built by CoreCivic, a prison company that has contracted with the state of Alabama to build the two prisons and lease them to the state for 30 years. The third site, proposed for Brierfield in Bibb County, is to be built and owned by a consortium headed by BL Harbert. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council has delayed plans for the city to purchase and redevelop the Smithfield Community’s defunct Hill Elementary School property. Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office has proposed that the city buy the school and renovate it for workforce housing. But several councilors argued that they had not been adequately informed of the city’s plans for the property and demanded more information. Read more.
Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Monday morning the creation of a Civilian Review Board to investigate claims of misconduct by the Birmingham Police Department. The five-member board will have the authority to investigate citizen complaints and will have some subpoena powers to aid those investigations, Woodfin said. Read more.
The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday received a Senate-passed gambling measure that had morphed from one entirely focused on a state lottery into an umbrella bill with the lottery, casinos and sports betting.
The bill got a first reading and was sent to the tourism committee. This is the twisted trail of a legislative effort to enhance state revenues without directly imposing new taxes. Read more.
More from the Legislature this week:
MONTGOMERY — Legislation to create a new state agency to oversee the expansion and availability of high-speed broadband internet services throughout the state is close to final passage in the State House.
Various broadband and technology entities in the state voiced their support for Senate Bill 215 from Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, on Thursday during a public hearing. The House Urban and Rural Development Committee did not vote on the bill but plans to next week. Read more.
More from the Legislature this week: