Category: Alabama Legislature

Sentencing Reform Bills Pass Committee

MONTGOMERY — The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved two criminal sentencing reform bills, sending them to the full House of Representatives for a vote as soon as Wednesday. The bills, sponsored by committee Chairman Jim Hill, R-Moody, are separate from the prison construction package that also advanced in committee Tuesday but were included by Gov. Kay Ivey in her call for a special session. Read more.

Prison Construction Bills Pass First Vote in House Committee

MONTGOMERY — The prison construction package negotiated by Gov. Kay Ivey and top legislative leaders advanced in a House committee Tuesday, setting it up for a vote of the full House Wednesday.

Republicans on the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee expressed confidence in the plan, but some Democrats remain concerned over the cost and ultimate effectiveness of the new buildings.

Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, said that he thinks the new facilities are necessary to reduce the violence and keep staff numbers up.

“The bill is a good start. It’s not the solution to all our problems and it’s going to take a lot of money, but one thing it may help us do is keep employees,” Greer said. Read more.

Also Tuesday: Sentencing Reform Bills Pass Committee

Congressional Democrat to Treasury: Alabama ‘Misusing’ COVID-19 Funds for Prisons

Alabama’s plan to use $400 million in federal COVID-19 relief money on new prisons has caught the attention of top Democrats in Congress who moved Monday to try to prevent the expenditure.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, sent a letter to Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen asking her to stop Alabama from “misusing” a portion of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation.

“Directing funding meant to protect our citizens from a pandemic to fuel mass incarceration is in direct contravention of the intended purposes of the ARP legislation and will particularly harm communities of color who are already disproportionately impacted by over-incarceration and this public health crisis,” Nadler wrote.

Alabama legislators, however, said the plan to help fix Alabama’s prison crowding issues is a legitimate use of federal funds sent to states to make up for revenue lost during the pandemic. Read more.

Legislature Gavels In Special Session on Prisons

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature convened at the State House Monday for the start of a special session to consider a plan to build three new prisons along with two sentencing reform bills.

The meeting is the latest attempt to fix the state’s crowded, crumbling and chaotic prison system that for decades has been the target of federal investigations, lawsuits, court orders and threatened takeovers.

The priority in the construction bill is two 4,000-bed men’s facilities in Elmore and Escambia counties. Lawmakers estimate their costs at between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion. The full plan, which is sponsored by Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, includes a new women’s prison along with renovations of other men’s prisons in its second phase. Read more.

10 Things to Know About Lawmakers’ Special Session

Alcohol Law Goes Into Effect Oct. 1, but Don’t Expect Deliveries Right Away

A new law allowing for the home delivery of beer, wine and spirits goes into effect Oct. 1, but Alabamians will have to wait longer for their favorite beverages at their front doors.

“The law becoming effective Oct. 1 literally means that is the first day we can begin processing applications,” Alcoholic Beverage Control Board spokesman Daniel Dye told Alabama Daily News. Read more.

10 Things to Know About Lawmakers’ Special Session

The Alabama Legislature will soon debate a prison plan that leaders say would address issues with the state’s outdated and crowded facilities and the violence and poor care that has prompted federal investigations and threats of takeovers.

Lawmakers begin meeting Monday afternoon in a special session. Read on for 10 things to know about the session.

House GOP Caucus Meets on Prison Plan

Alabama House Republicans met for more than two hours Wednesday to discuss their potential support and concerns about draft legislation to build new prisons and renovate old ones using a combination of state, federal and borrowed funds.

According to legislative leaders, the first phase of the plan includes building two new men’s prisons at a total cost of $1.2 billion, with a third of that potentially coming from federal stimulus funds and a significant amount borrowed in a bond issue. Read more.