May 22, 2015
Legislative Days 23-24
The Alabama Legislature met this week for the 23rd and 24th legislative days. While both the Senate and House passed versions of the Education Trust Fund, a conference committee was appointed to work out the differences. The Senate concurred with the conference committee budget but the House adjourned before they could consider the changes made in the conference committee. They will have to take up the amended budget next week and concur before it will go to the governor.
The House is scheduled to reconvene Tuesday May 26th at 1:00pm and the Senate is set to reconvene that same day at 2:00pm.
House Passes Education Trust Fund Budget And General Fund Budget
This week the Alabama House of Representatives gave final approval to both the General Fund Budget and the Education Trust Fund Budget. On Tuesday the House debated and passed the General Fund Budget that relies on cuts, not new tax revenue, to make up for the budget shortfall. That budget is now in the Senate and according to the General Fund Budget Committee Chairman Arthur Orr the bill will likely be heard in committee on Wednesday.
The Education Trust Fund Budget was passed out of committee on Tuesday and has a much more optimistic outlook. The proposed budget calls for increases for classroom supplies, textbooks, pre-k and transportation. And, in an unprecedented vote, on Thursday the House gave approval to the Education Budget with a unanimous vote of 105-0. The Senate non-concurred with a change the House made to the budget and was sent to a conference committee.
Senate President Pro Tem Sponsors Anti-Discrimination Bill, Governor Signs Prison Reform Legislation Into Law
The Alabama State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh on Tuesday introduced SB482 which would provide that state employees could not be discriminated against when being hired, fired, or disciplined based on race, religion, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and other classifications. The bill was quickly placed on the committee agenda in the Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday. When the bill came up, at least two senators voiced concerns over the legislation and it was carried over on a voice vote. Senator Marsh said that he viewed the bill as an economic development bill given that many companies look to states' anti-discrimination laws when considering economic development projects.
Governor Robert Bentley signed the sweeping prison reform bill championed by Senator Cam Ward on Thursday. While there are questions whether the funding will be in place to implement the reforms, Senator Ward said he was confident the Senate would add the appropriate funding when it addresses the General Fund Budget that was passed by the House this week.