May 6, 2016
The Alabama Legislature met for two legislative days in Montgomery this week, ending the 2016 Regular Legislative Session on Wednesday May 4th.
Governor Bentley this week did not rule out the possibility of calling a special session to address Medicaid, BP, and Prisons, but did say he would not do that anytime soon.
Legislature Adjourns Without Passing Prison Bond Issue, BP Settlement or Medicaid Fix
In the final hours of the 2016 Regular Legislative Session the legislature failed to pass several major pieces of legislation. The $800 million bond issues meant to build four new prisons and a legislative priority for Governor Bentley went through a number of changes before eventually dying when the legislature adjourned before providing final passage. A conference committee scaled it back to two men's prisons, the women's prison and a total bond issue of up to $550 million tonight. The Senate passed that version by a vote of 23-12. That left enough time for it to pass the House before the session ended at midnight. But the House did not take it up for a vote.
The BP Settlement bill, which would have provided much needed funding for the state’s Medicaid Agency, died this week also. The legislation, which would split an estimated $639 million payment over the 2010 oil spill, had already passed the House and needed to pass a Senate committee to stay alive. The bill would have split the proceeds between state debt payment and coastal road projects, and freed up money for Medicaid.
But Finance and Taxation General Fund chairman Trip Pittman abruptly adjourned a committee meeting Tuesday afternoon after members voted 9 to 6 against a motion to table a substitute that would have increased the state debt repayment and distributed a smaller amount of money around the state.
Historic Tax Credit, Payday Lending, Monument Bill All Fail To Pass Legislature This Session
There were several other pieces of legislation this session that garnered attention around the state that failed to receive final passage by the time the legislature adjourned sine die. A bill that would have extended the state’s Historic Tax Credit did not receive approval this week, effectively ending the program. Late last month, Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh indicated that this bill would be holding up the legislation authorizing the seven year extension until there was a better understanding of its financial implications.
SB91 by Senator Orr which would have drastically reformed the payday lending industry also died on the last day of session this year. The effort to lower interest rates has been unsuccessful in the Legislature for several years, though it got further this year than in previous sessions.
A bill that partially kept the House of Representatives in a filibuster on the final day was SB13 by Senator Gerald Allen, the confederate monument bill. The bill would require local governments to get approval from Montgomery before moving historical monuments, which was widely believed to be aimed at the removal of confederate monuments across the state. The bill was eventually carried over and did not receive final passage.