March 18, 2016
The Alabama Legislature met for two legislative days in Montgomery this week. The House will reconvene on Tuesday March 22nd at 1:00pm and the Senate will reconvene the same day at 2:00pm.
As a reminder, the Alabama Legislature will take off the week of March 28th for Spring Break. Due to this scheduling, the legislature plans to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week for two legislative days and will not meet on Thursday.
House Gives Final Passage To General Fund Budget, Committee Approves Six Cent Gas Tax Increase
The Alabama House this week gave final approval to the state's General Fund Budget. The budget, which is perpetually underfunded, was debated for more than five hours before receiving approval with a vote of 65-35. The main point of contention in the budget was the looming problem of the state's Medicaid Agency. That agency had requested an additional $100 million in order to properly fund services and implement Regional Care Organizations (RCO's). However, the budget approved by the House only provides an additional $15 million, a move that General Fund Budget Chairman Steve Clouse says was the only option with current state revenues.
The governor has said that he will veto any budget that does not include an additional $100 million for Medicaid. Since the budget was amended from the originally approved Senate version, the General Fund must receive a concurrence vote before being sent to the governor. It is increasingly likely that if the governor vetoes the budget and the legislature overrides his veto, a special session will be called to deal with Medicaid.
A House committee on Thursday approved a bill that would raise the state gas tax by about six cents a gallon, with the hopes of generating more money to fund road and bridge projects. A companion bill, sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial would create a Transportation Safety Fund that would direct money from the project to county infrastructure projects. The bill would ban the use of the money for personnel, equipment purchase or “construction of buildings not related the road and bridge construction.” The committee approved Dial’s bill.
Senate Ends Week In Filibuster, Senator Loses Key Seat On Rules Committee
The Alabama Senate this week ended with a special order calendar with only five bills, however Republicans had to cloture almost all bills on the calendar due to a filibuster by the Democrats. Bills that were clotured included HB37 by Representative Arnold Mooney declaring a Right to Work policy, and SB10 by Senator Gerald Allen calling for an Article V constitutional convention requiring Congress to balance the federal budget.
Senator Paul Bussman this week lost his seat on the Senate Rules Committee, a committee that sets the calendar for each legislative day. Earlier in the session, Senator Bussman was the only Republican senator to vote against Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh's SB316, the PREP Act, a teacher tenure reform and evaluation bill, in committee.