2014 Legislature

State of Alabama

  Gov. Robert Bentley won't make a quick decision on whether to sign the state's Education Trust Fund budget or force lawmakers back into a special session over the issue of a raise for education employees.

Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said Friday that there is no timeframe on when he will make a decision.

Bentley has until April 13 to sign the budget into law or it will die through a pocket veto.

Alabama State House
Trance Mist / Flickr

  Alabama's $1.8 billion General Fund budget for the next fiscal year has become law with only small changes from the governor.

Gov. Robert Bentley sent a line item veto the House of Representatives late Thursday making some alterations to the budget. Those changes became law when representatives adjourned for the night without taking action.

House budget committee chairman Rep. Steve Clouse of Ozark says the governor's changes to the operating budget were minor.


Members of a legislative committee have shot down a bill to let people carry loaded handguns in their cars without a concealed carry permit.

The House Public Safety Committee didn't advance the bill Wednesday after several sheriffs and police chiefs said they were concerned that it could lead to more violence.

No lawmaker seconded a motion to approve the bill, meaning it is dead for the session.

Republican Sen. Scott Beason says he's disappointed. Beason says people should not have to pay a fee to keep a loaded gun in their car.

Alabama State House
Trance Mist / Flickr

A repeal of the Common Core curriculum standards and a cap on payday loan interest rates are among the legislative proposals that are dead for the 2014 session.

With just two days remaining, time has run out for many of the 1,103 bills introduced this session. Legislative proposals that have not passed at least one chamber have no chance of winning approval.


Gov. Robert Bentley says he still hopes to get a 2 percent pay raise approved for public school employees.

Bentley said Monday that he's glad that he and legislative leaders agreed to increase funding for the education employees' health insurance program, and he says that should keep them from having to pay higher costs. But Bentley says he wants the Legislature to do more with three meeting days left in the legislative session.

Alabama State House
Trance Mist / Flickr

The Alabama Legislature is getting closer to extending the waiting period for an abortion in the state.

The Senate Health Committee voted 7-1 Wednesday to approve a bill that extends the waiting time from 24 hours to 48 hours after a woman receives information from an abortion clinic about the procedure and associated risks. Republicans senators cast the yes votes, and Democratic Sen. Billy Beasley cast the lone nay vote.

khawkins04 / Flickr

Legislation to ban smoking in many Alabama businesses has died.

The bill by Democratic Sen. Vivian Davis Figures of Mobile failed in the House Health Committee 4-7 Wednesday.

Alabama State House
Trance Mist / Flickr

An Alabama legislative committee has voted to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected -- something that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

The House Health Committee approved the fetal heartbeat bill Tuesday. Both sides of the abortion debate agree the proposal would ban most abortions if it becomes law. They also agreed the proposal will be destined for a court fight if given final approval.

North Dakota approved similar legislation, but a federal judge put the law on hold while a legal challenge plays out in court.

Douglas Muth / Flickr

A state lawmaker has proposed legislation to allow people older than 70 to withdraw from jury pools.

A bill proposed by Rep. Rod Scott, a Fairfield Democrat, has been discussed in the House Judiciary Committee. Scott says many seniors have trouble making it to court but some lawmakers say the legislation could pose problems in smaller counties.

Republican Rep. Mike Jones of Andalusia says he's concerned with defendants losing the ability to have their case heard by a jury of peers. The bill would allow seniors to reinstate themselves to the pool if they wished.

Gerry Fincher / Flickr

Alabama lawmakers are proposing a multitude of school prayer and religious expression bills this session.

Legislators say the bills are an effort to push back efforts to squash all vestiges of religion from the public square. But opponents called the bills election-year pandering and said the proposals are either unnecessary or unconstitutional.

Republican Rep. Steve Hurst has proposed setting aside up to 15 minutes at the start of each school day to study the procedures of Congress, including having teachers give a verbatim reading of a congressional opening prayer.


Alabama lawmakers are seeking to keep secret the manufacturers and suppliers of the drugs used in lethal injection executions.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill Tuesday.

The bill would require the state to keep the identities of people and companies who provide the drugs to the state confidential.

Rogersville Republican Lynn Greer says the state needs to make sure it can continue to obtain the lethal injection drugs.

The Alabama Legislature has agreed to create a council of business executives to advise state leaders on workforce development issues.

The Senate voted 28-1 Thursday to go along with changes the House made in a bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Paul Bussman of Cullman. The bill now goes to the governor for signing into law.

Laurie Avocado / Wikimedia Commons

Alabama lawmakers took a step toward effectively legalizing a marijuana extract that doesn't get people high, but can be used to treat certain medical conditions.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at allowing people with certain illnesses to possess the oil called cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil.

Sen. Paul Sanford says the oil does not make people feel high, because it is low in marijuana's psychoactive compound.


Retired state employees might get their first pension bonus since 2008.

The Senate Finance and Taxation-General Fund Committee approved a bill Wednesday to provide a one-time bonus, but the bill's sponsor, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, says the amount and affordability of the bonus still must be determined.

Marsh's bill would provide $2 for each month of a retiree's state service. A retiree who worked 25 years would get $600.

About 50 people rallied on the Statehouse steps in Montgomery to show their support for legislation limiting interest rates on payday and title loans.

Members of the Alliance for Responsible Lending gathered Tuesday to support bills from Democratic Rep. Rod Scott of Fairfield and Patricia Todd of Birmingham that limit interest to 36 percent. The group backing the bills includes representatives of Alabama Appleseed, the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, the state NAACP, and AARP.


Alabama House Republicans are pushing for the expansion of a program that lets high school students take job training classes at two-year colleges.

Students already can enroll in classes like welding and aviation mechanics while completing their high school studies.

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard says expanding the program will boost the number of skilled workers in the state.

The proposed legislation would create a $10 million scholarship program to expand the state's current dual enrollment program.


The Alabama House was unable to meet Tuesday because many members couldn't make the icy trip to Montgomery. But the Senate got enough members to Montgomery to meet.


  Customers might no longer be able to call the state's utility regulatory board to complain about phone service.

A bill moving through the Alabama Legislature would complete the deregulation of home and business phone service by ending the Public Service Commission's ability to handle customer complaints about landlines.

The Alabama Legislature may make it easier for voters to cast absentee ballots when there is a hurricane or other weather emergency.


Alabama legislators are showing their support for expanding Alabama's death penalty law to cover more crimes and to expedite executions by shortening appeals.

The House and Senate Judiciary Committees voted Wednesday to approve bills being pushed by Attorney General Luther Strange and the Alabama District Attorneys Association.

One bill expands Alabama's death penalty law to cover several additional crimes, including killing someone on a school campus or in a child-care center.


Two Alabama senators are finding support for bills aimed at toughening the rules for welfare benefits, including requiring drug testing of some welfare applicants.

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability Committee overwhelmingly approved four bills Wednesday that are sponsored by Republican Sens. Trip Pittman of Daphne and Arthur Orr of Decatur.

The Alabama House has voted to make it a misdemeanor crime for state or local tax officials to audit an individual or group because of their political views.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Wayne Johnson of Ryland, says it is the result of how the Internal Revenue Service handled tea party groups and similar organizations.

The bill cleared the House 74-22 Tuesday, with support coming primarily from Republicans and opposition from Democrats. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.


Republican legislators concerned about the federal debt are trying to set up the guidelines for Alabama to participate in a state-led constitutional convention.

Sens. Trip Pittman of Daphne and Arthur Orr of Decatur have introduced bills setting up how Alabama's delegates would be chosen and the limits they would operate under if there is ever a state-led constitutional convention called under Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution.

AP Photo/Dave Martin

Democrats in the Alabama House have announced their support for a state lottery referendum, 6 percent raise for public employees and a tobacco tax increase.

The House Democratic Caucus unveiled its agenda Tuesday. House Minority Leader Craig Ford of Gadsden says it's been 15 years since Alabama voters turned down a state lottery, and it's time for another statewide vote.


The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a slate of tax bills that are part of Republicans' election-year agenda.

One proposal approved Thursday would create an independent body to oversee taxpayer disputes. Current law allows the Department of Revenue to appoint administrative judges to settle disagreements. Lawmakers say that system gives the agency too much power.

Another bill would let the Revenue Department suspend tax collections if the collection cost exceeds the revenue generated.

Two other bills are aimed at small businesses.


Gov. Robert Bentley is proposing state budgets that would require most state agencies to get by next year with about the same amount they are receiving this year.

Bentley's proposals include increases for all levels of public education.

Bentley's office released his recommended budgets Tuesday, which is the second day of the Legislature's 2014 session.

Bentley's state General Fund budget for the next fiscal year would spend $1.8 billion. The biggest increase is $70 million is for Medicaid. Courts would get a small increase.

Two new lawmakers have taken their seats for the first time as the Alabama Legislature opens its 2014 session.

In the House, Rep. Adline Clarke of Mobile County and Rep. Dimitri Polizos of Montgomery County took oaths of office Tuesday from Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Clarke, a Democrat, won a special election to fill the seat vacated by the death of Yvonne Kennedy, who served in the House for more than 30 years. Polizos, a Republican, won a special election for a seat that opened when Jay Love resigned. There are still three vacancies in the 105-seat House.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says one of his goals for the legislative session starting Tuesday is to shorten the appeal time in death penalty cases.

At news conferences across the state, the Republican attorney general said going through a capital murder trial and all the appeals can take nearly two decades.

Alabama Securities Commission

Alabamians trying to start small businesses in a tough credit market may soon have a new method that will allow them to raise small amounts of capital from many Alabama investors.

Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur says he will sponsor a bill in the upcoming legislative session to allow "crowd funding." It would cap investors at $5,000 each and would limit crowd funding to $1 million per business.

Alabama School Readiness Alliance

Advocates of early childhood education are expecting another expansion of the state's pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds, and they are waiting to see how much the governor will propose when the Legislature convenes Jan. 14.

Gov. Robert Bentley says he will recommend an increase, but he's not saying how much yet.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance, the Alabama Partnership for Children and others are seeking an increase of $12.8 million for the upcoming school year.