Tag: Alabama Legislature

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.

In Teacher Shortage, Educators Support Bill for Non-Certified Teachers

Roanoke City Schools Superintendent Chuck Marcum needs more teachers.

Specifically, he needs more educators who are certified in the subjects they’re teaching. But during a teacher shortage that some say has reached a crisis level in parts of the state, Marcum and others hope lawmakers will let them keep non-certified educators in their classrooms longer.

“The education colleges are turning out great teachers, just not enough of them,” Marcum said Friday. “Even if we hired all of them, it wouldn’t be enough.”

Hundreds of schools each year hire educators on a one-year emergency contract. The educators must have a bachelor’s degree, but no education training or experience. After that year, the individual can’t have another emergency contract with a school anywhere in the state.

Senate Bill 304 would change the word “emergency” to “urgent” and allow the contracts for up to six years.

Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, said he sponsored the bill after watching his daughter’s high school struggle to fill a physics teaching position.

His bill would make it easier for professionals with real-world experience and ability, but not a certificate, teach for longer, Chambliss said. Read more.

Bill Would Expand Broadband Internet Access Grants

MONTGOMERY — Last year, the state enacted a program to expand access to broadband internet in rural Alabama. Now, lawmakers say they need to “iron out” the details to make sure the program works properly.

State Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, is sponsoring legislation that would amend the law to allow more areas of the state to be eligible for funding grants. Read more.

New Bill Would Allow Cities, Counties to Cut Grocery Taxes

MONTGOMERY — For more than a decade, Alabama lawmakers have debated eliminating the sales tax on groceries, but no proposal has ever passed. Could they now choose to allow cities and counties to reduce grocery sales taxes of their own?

State Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has filed legislation that would give counties or municipalities the ability to reduce or completely remove their sales taxes on groceries. England told Alabama Daily News that he developed the bill because Tuscaloosa City Council members recently decided they wanted to remove the city’s sales tax on groceries, only to learn state law prohibited them from doing so. Read more.

Lawmakers Tackle Alabama’s Persistent Prison Problems

Alabama’s prisons are overcrowded, understaffed, and plagued by violence. A federal judge ruled mental health care for inmates is “horrendously inadequate.” There have been 15 suicides in as many months – including one earlier this month. Two inmates were stabbed and killed recently as well. While overcrowding has eased slightly, state lawmakers know there’s more work to do. WBHM’s Andrew Yeager spoke with state Sen. Cam Ward, a leading voice on prison issues, to get a sense of where lawmakers stand during this legislative session.

Lawmakers Get Ivey’s Budgets; One ‘Heartburn’ Issue Noted

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Kay Ivey introduced her education and General Fund budgets to state lawmakers this week, with popular provisions like a teacher pay raise, increases for cash-strapped agencies and more money to expand the state’s First Class pre-kindergarten program.

State House budget leaders said Thursday they didn’t see major changes coming to Ivey’s proposed $2.1 billion General Fund budget and $7.1 billion education budget this week, with one possible exception.

Ivey’s proposed education budget — the largest in the state’s history — allocates about $35 million for Children’s Health Insurance Program, which historically has been paid for with General Fund dollars. Read more.

Fast-Tracked Common Core Repeal Bill Passed by the Senate

Updated MONTGOMERY – A bill to repeal the state’s Common Core education standards cleared the Senate on Thursday, a day after being passed in committee.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, in previous years stood in the way of Common Core repeal efforts. But now he says removing the standards and charging the Alabama Board of Education to start over is aimed at improving Alabama’s lagging student performance.

“My position early on was that the (state) Department of Education and the board, elected by the people, should figure this out,” Marsh told Alabama Daily News this week. “That’s policy. We’re sitting here today with math scores in the eighth-grade level at 49th in the country and reading at 46th. I mean, you can’t justify that. So we’re saying after nine years with this program, it’s not working and we need to change direction.”

The bill would require the state board of educatiion to adopt new standards for the 2021-2022 school year. Originally the bill had called for the new standards to be in place for the 2020-2021 school year, and it required the state to revert to the previous standards in place during the 1990s and 2000s for the upcoming academic year. Some educators objected to changing the standards twice in two years and said making the changes would be a burdensome and costly task.

State Superintendent Eric Mackey said the bill would have a lot of unintended consequences.

Read more.

Border Wall Bill Passes Senate

Updated: MONTGOMERY – A bill to allow Alabamians to donate some of their income tax return to the construction of a wall on the U.S. southern border by checking a box on their tax return documents passed the Alabama Senate this week.

The bill, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, passed the Senate Thursday on a vote of 23-6. Read more.