Category: Alabama Legislature

Water Water Everywhere … Unless It Hasn’t Rained Lately: Legislators Debate Bill to Govern Water Use During Droughts

River advocacy groups are promoting passage of a bill that would provide clear standards in times of drought for the state to step in to allocate use of water for agriculture, recreation, drinking and other uses.

The bill, HB 476, also would set up a system of “conservation credits” for agricultural and other large water users who institute water-saving measures before periods of drought.

Under the bill, when water flow in a river or stream falls below predetermined, science-based levels, state agencies could more quickly impose limits on usage to protect the health of the waterway. That would impact the quality of water for drinking, recreation and aquatic life, advocates say.

Meanwhile, farmers are concerned that the bill could let the state cut back on their water use just when they need it most.
The bill is awaiting action in a committee. Read more.

Ivey: Bill for Appointed K-12 Board of Education Would Fix “Broken” Governance

Legislation to potentially replace Alabama’s elected K-12 board of education with a commission of governor appointees will be voted on Tuesday in a Senate committee.

The proposed constitutional amendment from Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, has the support of Gov. Kay Ivey, who is also president of board of education.

“As we know all too well, statistic after statistic — and study after study — shows that our children are not getting the best education possible or even the best education that is available,” Ivey said in a letter to board members last week. Read more.

Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate passed legislation Thursday regulating medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions.

The bill now goes to the Alabama House.

Senate Bill 236, dubbed the Care Act, would establish the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to administer a patient registry system and issue medical cannabis cards. The bill lists about 30 qualifying conditions, including addiction, cancer, autism, epilepsy, terminal conditions and end-of-life care.

Patients would need a prescription from a doctor and a second recommendation from a specialist to obtain medical marijuana. Read more.

Committee Adds Rape, Incest Exception to Abortion Ban Bill; Could Get Senate Vote Thursday

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would criminalize most abortions in Alabama but added an exception for victims of rape and incest despite objections from the bill sponsors.

That amendment could be a large part of debate Thursday when the full Senate is expected to consider the legislation.

House Bill 314 is sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, and its intent is to challenge Roe V. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made access to abortions a constitutional right in the first two trimesters of pregnancy.

“To accept another amendment that weakens the argument or diverts the message that the baby in the womb is a person dilutes the whole message,” Collins told the committee. Read more.

Bill Would Give Governor More Oversight of State Pardons and Parole

MONTGOMERY — Legislation that would provide oversight changes to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles and put into law when an inmate may be considered for parole cleared committees recently.

House Bill 380, sponsored by Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, and Senate Bill 42, sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, would eliminate a nominating board that makes recommendations to the governor and instead allow the governor to appoint board members with the consent of the Senate. Read more.

Higher Education Looks to Fix ‘Egregious Inequities’ in Funding for Some Universities

The record $7.1 billion education budget approved in the Alabama Senate last week contains at least 5% increases for the state’s public four-year universities, but a formula to get more money to underfunded institutions met with some concern.

“I represent an institution that feels like they were not made whole in the budget,” Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, said in a budget committee meeting last week.

His complaint was about the Alabama Commission of Higher Education’s attempt to address what it says are “the most egregious inequities in funding” at some universities.

The proposal would increase funding to some universities where the funding doesn’t match up with that of other schools across the nation that have similar missions, student bodies and degree production. Read more.