Thu February 12, 2004
Legislative Committees Approve Bills
By Alabama Public Radio
Montgomery, AL – Alabama lawmakers continued their legislative session yesterday with a series of committee meetings, where they approved several bills.
Among them was a measure related to the recent shooting deaths of two Athens police officers. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would require involuntary mental commitments in Alabama to be reported to a national database used to screen potential gun buyers. The man accused of killing two Athens police officers last month had a history of mental commitments. However, he passed a background check and bought an assault rifle because Alabama is one of several states that do not report involuntary mental commitments to the national background check database.
The bill now head to the full Senate for consideration.
Meanwhile in the Alabama House, the State Government Committee gave its approval to a bill aimed at reducing the chances of identity theft.
The bill would remove Social Security numbers from Alabama driver's licenses and state-issued documents. The bill's sponsor Representative Steve Hurst says Social Security numbers could be included, but only at the request of the license owner. Currently, those numbers are automatically included on licenses unless its removal is requested.
That bill now goes to the full House.
In other Legislative notes, Democratic lawmakers are seeking new oversight for many of the spending decisions made by the Governor's administration.
The legislation would create a commission made up of six lawmakers who would approve the governor's decisions to spend conditional appropriations. Supporters of the bill says lawmakers must make sure money they appropriate is spent as intended. But Finance Director Drayton Nabers told members of the House Government Spending and Appropriations committee yesterday that the bill is a "power grab'' by some Democratic lawmakers.
The Committee debated the proposal for several hours, and then tabled the matter until next week.
Also, the Legislative Council listened to complaints from some residents who say they are unfairly denied a driver's license.
The Public Safety Department prohibits anyone from wearing items covering their faces, hair or foreheads when being photographed for their driver's license. But the groups, which included a number of Muslims, say that violated their religious beliefs that require women to wear head scarves. However, people are allowed to wear wigs and toupees. Complaints were also raised about restrictions on the kind of residency documents a person has to show to obtain a driver's license.
The council was unable to take action on the complaints, but some lawmakers made it clear they don't like the rule and want it changed.