Category: Alabama Legislature

Now or Later? What Will Happen With Remaining Rescue Funds?

Alabama lawmakers, particularly those on the General Fund budget committees, will have a larger task in the legislative session that begins in January. But it’s still unclear how much of the remaining about $1.6 billion American Rescue Plan Act will be allocated in the Legislature’s spring meeting.

“We’ve got a lot more to figure out than just the Education Trust Fund and General Fund,” Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, said about lawmakers’ normal annual budgeting process.

The state’s more than $2 billion in ARPA money comes in two tranches, about half this year and half likely in June 2022, according to the Department of Finance. By May, lawmakers have will already ended their 2022 session.

Whether they’ll allocate all the money in the spring session or wait to distribute the 2022 share is still being discussed. Read more.

Ivey Recommends a One-Year Delay on Holding Back of Third Grade Readers

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday recommended a one-year delay to the Alabama Literacy Act’s holdback provision for third graders struggling with reading.

“Because we are implementing a new assessment, we need the spring 2022 data to further validate the cut score before we implement the promotion policy and, in the meantime, we will be doubling down for the supports needed to implement the Alabama Literacy Act to fidelity,” Ivey said at the state school board meeting.

The board voted on setting the reading score on standardized testing that will determine which students would continue on to the fourth grade. To implement Ivey’s recommended delay, the Alabama Legislature will have to approve the change during its regular session starting in January. Read more.

Lawmakers Pass 2 Vaccine Mandate Bills in Final Night of Session

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature late Thursday passed bills to make it easier for workers in the state to opt out of federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates and prohibit minors from getting vaccinated against the virus without parental consent. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bills Friday.

Lawmakers worked into the night on compromises between Senate and House-passed versions of the bills. The road to final passage on both bills was bumpy in the week-long special session that was supposed to focus on voting district maps.

At times the legislation pitted the GOP-dominant Legislature against business groups in the state. Senate Bill 9 would allow employees to claim religious or medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine through a standardized form given to employers. The law will sunset, or expire, in May 2023. Read more.

Earlier in the Legislature:

Legislature Wraps Redistricting Work, Sends Maps to Ivey

Vaccine Mandate Exemption Bills Move to Final Votes Thursday

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature could give final approval Thursday to legislation supporters say protect workers and residents in the state who want exemptions from federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 15 are two of several bills the GOP-led legislature filed in this special session to push back against federal mandates and protect the unvaccinated. While the mandates for federal workers and contractors and large employers already allow for medical and religious exemptions, supporters of Senate Bill 9 say it creates an easy-to-use form for employees seeking those exemptions.

Senate Bills 9 and 15 put GOP supporters at odds with the state’s business community, which argues the legislation creates confusing, dueling mandates on employers. Read more.

Also in the Legislature Wednesday:

Legislature Wraps Redistricting Work, Sends Maps to Ivey

MONTGOMERY — State lawmakers wrapped up their work on redistricting Wednesday, sending all four maps redrawn with Census 2020 data to Gov. Kay Ivey.

The Senate gave final approval to the congressional and Alabama House of Representatives district maps. Meanwhile, the House passed new district maps for the state Senate and the Alabama State Board of Education. Read More

Legislature Wraps Redistricting Work, Sends Maps to Ivey

MONTGOMERY — State lawmakers wrapped up their work on redistricting Wednesday, sending all four maps redrawn with Census 2020 data to Gov. Kay Ivey.

The Senate gave final approval to the congressional and Alabama House of Representatives district maps. Meanwhile, the House passed new district maps for the state Senate and the Alabama State Board of Education.

Democrats raised several objections to the redrawn congressional districts, particularly as it concerns the racial makeup of districts. Sen. Rodger Smitherman said as currently drawn, the 7th District packs too many Black voters into a single district and diminishes their voting power statewide. Read more.

Maps Clear Senate, House Committees, Head to Final Votes

MONTGOMERY — Committees in the Alabama House and Senate approved the four bills containing new congressional, state board of education and state House and Senate districts Tuesday, readying them for final passage on Wednesday. Each of the bills cleared committees without changes to the district maps. Some Senators attempted to make changes to the congressional map in the Senate General Fund budget committee but were ultimately unsuccessful. Read more.

New District Maps Advance, House Continues Debate

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature’s special session on redistricting continued Monday as lawmakers moved quickly to advance three of four new maps based on new 2020 census data on population changes.

The Alabama House approved a new congressional district map while the Alabama Senate approved its own new districts as well as new districts for the Alabama State Board of Education.

Those were the first chamber-level votes on redistricting plans in this fast-paced special session. The House continued to debate Monday night its own new districts proposal, which is drawing opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. Read more.

Also in the Legislature Monday:

Committee Approves Anti-COVID Vaccine Mandate Bills, Move to Senate

Committee Approves Anti-COVID Vaccine Mandate Bills, Move to Senate

MONTGOMERY — Two bills opposing the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federal workers and large companies got Senate committee approval on Monday and now move to the full Senate. They could get votes there Tuesday.

While Republican supporters say they know the federal mandate issue will have to be settled in court, they said the Legislature needs to act, too. So far, 12 anti-vaccine mandate bills have been filed in this special session, including five filed in the House despite Speaker Mac McCutcheon’s statement last week that this special session on redistricting isn’t the place to handle the issue. Read more.

Lawmakers Begin Special Session

MONTGOMERY — As the gavels sounded to bring the Alabama Legislature into special session Thursday, many lawmakers were getting a first detailed look at how their districts would be redrawn following the 2020 census.

Some are happy with the changes so far, some are not, and many are not seeking reelection to begin with. Ready or not, the new maps for State House and Senate, Congress and state school board have now been introduced to begin their journey through the legislative process. Read more.