Category: Alabama Legislature

Sine Die, Ciao, Adios: Legislators Wrapped up the Session After Passing Budgets, an Ethics Exemption and Little Else

Legislators did what they had to do last week and then went home, finishing the annual regular session a couple of weeks early so they could shift their attention to the 2018 election season.

They adopted the $2 billion General Fund budget and the $6.6 billion Education Trust Fund budget. Both are the largest budgets passed in a decade, and both include pay raises for employees.

They also passed a controversial bill that exempts economic development professionals from lobbying registration requirements.
Arguments over a racial profiling bill threatened to derail the Legislature’s planned departure, but ultimately it failed. Other highly touted bills also died with the end of the session, including a package of bills introduced in reaction to the school shooting in Florida and a substantial rewrite of the ethics law. Read more.

Alabama has a swath of elections coming up this year, and there will be a much stronger Democratic presence on the ballot than there has been in recent statewide elections. Do you think Alabama’s moving toward being a two-party state? Are Democrats a viable party statewide?

Jones: I think you’re looking at the viability of Democrats. The viability of Democrats is not dependent on a candidate. It’s dependent on the issues and how they present those issues to the people. I’ve always believed Democrats can be viable. I’ve always believed Republicans, even when Democrats dominated the state, could have been viable with the right message. We flipped (dominant parties) too quick, and we never became a two-party state.
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Attorney General Looking Into Legislators’ Campaign Spending Reports

Grand jury subpoenas arriving last week for Alabama legislators put the spotlight on how the officeholders spend contributions and whether their reports and expenditures comply with the state’s campaign finance law.

State Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, one of the few legislators to acknowledge getting a subpoena, said it was from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. Todd said she’s not the only legislator to receive a subpoena. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon also verified that subpoenas had been delivered.

“They seem to believe we are putting things on the Visa that are for personal use, but I don’t have anything to hide,” Todd said.

Other legislators were being close-lipped about the investigation, most of them either not returning calls or saying they had no comment.

Alabama election laws specify that candidates and officials must disclose the identification of each person or entity that has been paid more than $100 in a calendar year from their campaign accounts, along with the amount, date and purpose of each expenditure.

BirminghamWatch looked up financial records on Jefferson County’s 26 legislators and found several who had listed expenditures on their campaign finance reports without providing details about where the money went. Read more.

Alabama Representatives Will Get Sexual Harassment Training, Matching National Trend

Alabama’s House of Representatives members will be getting mandatory sexual harassment training beginning in 2019, even though House and Senate officials say neither body has had a sexual harassment complaint filed in decades or longer.

The House also posts detailed sexual harassment policies online for open viewing.

These moves put Alabama lawmakers and staff in solid company. The majority of the nation’s legislative chambers are intensifying efforts to prevent sexual harassment after a wave of sexual harassment claims made against prominent figures gained momentum in the fall, the Associated Press found in a 50-state review.released Thursday.

AP found that more than three-fourths of the states have at least one legislative chamber that has updated its sexual harassment policy during the past several months, developed specific proposals to do so or undertaken a review of whether changes are needed. Read more.

Elections, Monuments and Schools, Oh My! Legislature Returns to Piles of Controversy

Jan. 8, 2018 – Alabama’s state Legislature begins its 2018 regular session Tuesday, but legislators already have prefiled a slate of bills to be considered, some of which will likely attract significant debate.

Some of 2017’s most controversial stories — the 2017 election of Democratic U.S Sen. Doug Jones and the debate over Confederate monuments, for example — will continue on into the new year. Read more.