Tag: Alabama Legislature

Amid Prayers and Protective Gear, Legislature Postpones Session

MONTGOMERY — State lawmakers walked one by one into their respective chambers, each keeping a strict distance from one another and many wearing protective masks and gloves as the House and Senate met at the State House Tuesday.

The Legislature was forced to convene Tuesday to formally adopt a joint rule allowing for the postponement of a legislative session during a state of emergency. Fifty-eight of 105 House members were in attendance, each asked to sit with a seat between them in chairs specially marked by neon green sticky notes. Twenty-two of 35 senators were present in the much more spacious upper chamber, enough to conduct the limited business of the day: deciding when to reconvene the 2020 regular session amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Both the House and Senate agreed to meet again on April 28, hoping the worst of the outbreak will be over by then. Read more.

Gov. Ivey Awards $9.5 Million in Broadband Expansion Grants

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Kay Ivey awarded 20 broadband expansion grants totaling more than $9.5 million to provide high-speed internet access to communities across Alabama.

The grants are part of the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund and awarded to nine broadband providers to help fund multiple projects in their coverage areas.

Ivey said that high-speed Internet is always important to have but especially now as cases of COVID-19 have increased in the state and more people are asked to work and learn at home. Public schools are now closed and students are finishing the academic year in their houses. Read more.

Speaker: No Date Certain for Resuming Session; Senate Talks April 28

UPDATED: MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature is on hold for now, and it’s unclear when legislators will return to Montgomery. The regular session ends May 18, and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said he’s not sure whether the House could reconvene before that, making a special session likely. On the Senate side, leaders are talking about returning to the State House on April 28. Budgets and other important legislation had not been passed when legislators left Montgomery to combat the spread of COVID-19. Read more.

Lawmakers: Coronavirus Could ‘Doom’ Much of Legislative Session

UPDATED — Alabama lawmakers are expected to be back in Montgomery March 31, but how long they’ll be able to work and what they’ll be able to do in the middle of a public health emergency is in question.

“I can’t say in the present situation we can pass budgets,” Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, told Alabama Daily News on Monday. “The big question is, how long will this last? It’s one thing for a couple of weeks; It’s another if it lasts for months.”

As local and state governments try to stop the spread of the coronavirus and businesses slow or shutter temporarily, the impact on state revenue is expected to be significant. How bad that will be will depend on how long people are asked to stay home, state leaders said this week. Read more.

Coronavirus Could Impact State Legislature, Budgets

State lawmakers are expecting the coronavirus, and attempts to stop its spread, to affect Alabama’s tax revenues and the 2021 budgets they’re drafting.

“I think it could have a dramatic impact,” Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said Monday afternoon. He’s chairman of the House General Fund budget committee. He said it could be several weeks to a month before the financial toll of closures and social distancing are known. State and federal officials have said states will be reacting to the coronavirus for at least six to eight weeks.

“I think we’d need to wait as late as possible on the budgets to see how everything develops,” Clouse said. 
Read more.

State Puts $5M Toward Coronavirus Prep, Testing

Alabama Daily News
The Alabama Legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday issued $5 million to help the Alabama Department of Public Health prepare for and test more Alabamians for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

As of Thursday evening, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said there have been no positive cases found in the limited number of Alabamians tested for COVID-19. But he believes the virus is in the state.

“I don’t think there is any doubt we have disease circulating to some degree,” Harris said. Read more.

Yoga Still Being Taught to Some Students Despite 27-Year-Old Ban

Alabama is one step closer to overturning a decades-old ban on yoga in public schools. This week, the Alabama House of Representatives voted in favor of democratic Representative Jeremy Gray’s bill – which would give school systems the option to teach yoga poses and stretches as long as they don’t chant, recite mantras or say “namaste.” Jimi Lee heads the non-profit Yoga & Love and volunteers with Alabama 4H. He tells WBHM’s Janae Pierre that, despite the ban, he’s led yoga at some schools; they just had to call the practice by another name. Read more.

Lottery, Gambling Compact Bills Introduced in State House

MONTGOMERY — A new version of a lottery bill has been filed in the Alabama House with enough co-sponsors to easily get it through that chamber, if it makes it to a vote.

A different lottery bill filed recently in the Senate also sets up a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to allow table games at its casinos, including two new sites in Jefferson County and north Alabama. Both bills are constitutional amendments requiring voter approval. Read more.