April 8, 2016
The Alabama Legislature met for two legislative days in Montgomery this week. The House will reconvene on Tuesday April 12th at 1:00pm and the Senate will reconvene the same day at 4:00pm. Next week the legislature will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto Of General Fund Budget
This week the Alabama Legislature overrode a veto by Governor Robert Bentley and passed the General Fund Budget. The Governor had vetoed the budget saying that it did not adequately fund Medicaid. The $1.85 billion budget is a 5% increase from the current fiscal year. Although the legislature did not provide Medicaid with their requested increase, General Fund Budget Chairman Steve Clouse said the House and Senate budget committees plan to hold joint meetings to study the rising costs of Medicaid.
Senate Passes Payday Lending Legislation, Bill To Build New Prisons
In the senate this week, Senator Arthur Orr’s SB91 received approval to further regulate the payday lending industry. The legislation would extend the time to pay off the loans from 30 days to six months and regulate the interest a lender can charge. Payday loans are short-term loans, currently lasting between 14 and 30 days. State law limits the total amount of payday loans an individual can take out to $500. Orr’s bill follows similar legislation that passed in Colorado in 2010. A study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that about half the payday lenders in the state closed their doors after the law passed though those that survived did more business.
The senate also approved a bill that would provide an $800 million bond issue to construct four new state prisons. The plan, initiated by Bentley and Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn, includes closing most of the existing prisons. Bentley and Dunn say it is the best way to resolve the overcrowded and understaffed conditions that have plagued state prisons for decades. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said he was confident in the plan to pay off the debt through cost savings after discussions today with Dunn and the state Finance Department.