April 10, 2015
Legislative Days 11-12
This week the Alabama Legislature met for the 11th and 12th legislative days. Both chambers made their way through relatively non-controversial calendars and held hearings on the state of the budgets.
The House is scheduled to reconvene at 1:00pm on Tuesday April 14 and the Senate will reconvene at 2:00pm.
House Holds General Fund Budget Hearings, Democrats Urge State To Pass Lottery
The Alabama House of Representatives this week worked through a number of bills during a relatively non-controversial week. On Tuesday, there was a filibuster on the House floor surrounding a bill granting county commissions limited power to establish personnel policies. The bill, HB193 by Representative Davis, was eventually passed.
On Wednesday, House members heard from Medicaid, Corrections, and Mental Health on what their agencies would look like if the proposed budget passes without any additional funding. Both Medicaid and Corrections would see a 3% cut to their budget. A cut that, the Department of Corrections says, would force them to close two state prison facilities. Next week, the House is scheduled to hold hearings on what affect the current budget proposal would have on the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Judiciary, and the Department of Human Resources.
On the heels of the hearings on the bleak status of the state budgets, members of the Democratic Party in the House offered their plan to help fill the shortfall. On Wednesday House Democrats announced their legislative agenda that includes urging the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and creating a state lottery.
In House committees on Wednesday, another bill attempting to further regulate the pay day lending industry in Alabama was passed. HB417 by Representative Patricia Todd, which would institute a statewide database for lenders, passed the Financial Services committee.
Senate Holds Education Budget Hearings, Could Come Before Full Body Next Week
This week the Senate held hearings on the Education Trust Fund, which is in a much better position than the state General Fund. Although the budget that passed committee this week would not provide a raise for teachers in the state, it would allow for 70 additional middle school teachers and adding money for the state’s pre-kindergarten program, textbooks, transportation and daily expenses of schools. Most colleges in the state would also see an increase in funding of about .25 percent. Senator Trip Pittman, the chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education committee said the education budget could be voted on by the full Senate as early as next week.
Two bills this week failed to pass committee that had been the subject of much attention. SB115 by Senator Arthur Orr would take Alabama out of the retail alcohol business. In a somewhat unexpected outcome, the bill failed to receive a favorable report from the Finance and Taxation General Fund committee, a committee which Senator Orr chairs himself.
Another bill, SB335 by Senator Slade Blackwell, that would further regulate the pay day lending industry in Alabama was carried over in committee. The bill sponsor, and committee chairman, Senator Blackwell said the bill needed more work before being passed by the committee and that he would bring the bill back next week.