Category: Government

Congressional Votes for the Week Ending May 10

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives spent part of its week debating proposals to lift some restrictions on health insurance requirements, mostly having to do with whether coverage of pre-existing conditions must be covered.

Alabama’s Republican representatives voted in ways that would allow the coverage reductions and the Democratic representative voted in ways that would not. More health care bills are expected to come up in the House this week.

Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending May 10. Read more.

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.

All Clear (For Now): More Testing Shows Baby Thought to Have Measles Did Not

The baby in St. Clair County believed to have had Alabama’s first case of measles has tested negative for the disease.

The Alabama Department of Public Health had reported that the baby had a presumptive positive measles case after initial tests run by a commercial lab returned a positive result.

But when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a more detailed test, the baby was diagnosed as not having the disease, according to a press release issued by the state health department. Read more.

No Toys Under Birmingham’s Budget Tree Next Year, Woodfin Says

On Tuesday, Mayor Randall Woodfin will unveil his proposed FY 2020 budget to the Birmingham City Council.

It will follow this year’s $436 million budget, the city’s largest ever and the first that the Woodfin administration had overseen from the ground up. That budget implemented a new “zero-based” strategy, which meant that appropriations were based on need rather than the previous year’s budget.

In March, Woodfin compared the FY 2020 budget to a “need-only Christmas,” where socks, not toys, are the gifts. “That’s how this budget’s going to be,” he said. 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.