Alabama House of Representatives

Hubbard trial
Todd J. Van Ernst / Opelika-Auburn News

As Mike Hubbard’s sentencing date approaches, prosecutors are recommending the former Alabama House Speaker should spend five years in a state prison for breaking the state ethics law.

Attorney General Luther Strange’s office filed a brief yesterday afternoon asking a judge to give Hubbard an 18-year split sentence. Hubbard would spend five years behind bars and the remaining 13 years under supervised probation.

Victor Gaston
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

Acting Alabama House Speaker Victor Gaston says he isn’t interested in making that title any more permanent.

The Mobile Republican representative announced yesterday that he will not be a candidate for speaker. Gaston says he was grateful to the colleagues and friends who encouraged him to seek the post. He says he will dedicate his remaining time as acting speaker to making sure all the various House functions run smoothly.

Members of the Alabama Legislature will elect a new House speaker in February, possibly sooner if Governor Bentley calls a special session.  

Contenders for the job are beginning to emerge after former House Speaker Mike Hubbard was removed from office after being convicted on twelve ethics charges.

The Alabama legislative session is over. Lawmakers have returned home, but some say very little was accomplished. APR’s MacKenzie Bates talks to one legislator who says there is still a lot work to do.

Lawmakers ended the session without agreeing a on a variety of issues like Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's prison construction proposal, how the state should spend the BP settlement from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the lack of money to fund the state’s Medicaid program.

Alabama State House
AP

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's prison construction bill failed to pass on the final night of the legislative session yesterday.

Lawmakers ended the session at midnight last night before a scaled-back version of the bill received a vote in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers attempted to craft a last-minute compromise in their effort to clear the bill through both chambers of the legislature yesterday.

UTC engine
United Technologies Corporation

Today is the last day of the 2016 legislative session, and the last chance for lawmakers to decide the fate of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's $800 million prison construction proposal.

A conference committee will meet later today to try and reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Bentley is seeking to borrow $800 million to build three new prisons for men — housing up to 4,000 inmates each — and one new women's prison. Most existing state prison facilities would close.

Lawmakers will reconvene in Montgomery today for the final five days of the current legislative session, with a lot of work left to do.

Dozens of high-profile bills will be considered this week. One issue still in the air is Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s $800 million bond issue that would close most of the existing state prison facilities in favor of four new large prisons. The bill has cleared the Senate but still faces a floor vote in the House.

A bill in the Alabama Legislature that would have effectively banned abortion in the state has failed to make it to a vote during the current legislative session.

Bill sponsor Representative Ed Henry (R) says the bill is "essentially dead". House Democrats mounted an effective filibuster earlier this week, and the House of Representatives adjourned before voting on the bill.

Committees in Alabama’s House of Representatives passed two notable bills yesterday. One would prevent abortion clinics from being located near public schools, and another would take the state of Alabama out of the marriage process entirely.

Legislators say the abortion bill is aimed at protecting students from the chaos of protestors outside abortion clinics. It would close an existing abortion facility in Huntsville, which was forced to move to its current location near a public school after the state mandated new facility requirements in 2013.

The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a bare-bones General Fund budget that Gov. Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto over inadequate Medicaid funding.

Representatives approved the spending bill on a 65-35 vote yesterday after a five-hour filibuster by black lawmakers. Democrats harshly criticized the proposed spending plan, which comes up $85 million short of the amount Bentley says is needed to adequately fund Medicaid.

Montgomery Rep. John Knight says Medicaid provides medical care to 1 million vulnerable Alabamians and has few programs to trim.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted unanimously yesterday to approve an education budget that gives teachers their first pay raise in several years.

The spending plan would give a 4 percent raise to teachers making less than $75,000 annually, and a 2 percent raise to all other teachers in the state.

All 105 state representatives approved the budget, sending it to the Alabama Senate for consideration.

In 2013, lawmakers approved a 2 percent pay raise for teachers, but that was offset by increases in benefit costs. The last raise before that came in 2007.

A House committee has approved an education budget that would give most of the state’s teachers a 4% pay raise.

Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved a $6.3 billion spending plan for 2017.

The 4% raise would go to teachers making less than $75,000 annually. Others would get a 2% raise.

The budget would also provide funding to hire an additional 475 teachers in 7th through 12th grades.

Budget Chairman Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa says the budget makes the best use of the state's finite resources.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

The Alabama House of Representatives approved measures to cement the state’s right-to-work status and to ban the sale of fetal tissue yesterday.

One bill would amend the state’s constitution to prevent companies from requiring their employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The practice has already been prohibited under state law, but Republicans say adding the language to the state constitution will make Alabama more appealing to industry. Lawmakers fell three votes short of passing the measure last week. Yesterday, the bill passed 69-33.

Alabama’s House of Representatives has approved a bill to block cities from setting their own local minimum wages. The bill would also roll back Birmingham's wage increase to $10.10 per hour, set to take effect March 1.

Legislators approved the GOP-backed bill last night on a 71-31 vote after cutting off a filibuster by House Democrats. The measure now moves to the Alabama Senate.

Alabama doesn’t have a state minimum wage. Instead, it uses the federal minimum of $7.25.

Last night, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a dramatic cut to Medicaid as lawmakers try to balance the General Fund budget.

Legislators in the House approved the $156 million dollar Medicaid cut on a second vote yesterday. The first vote failed.

Immediately afterward, the House passed its version of a General Fund budget. Funding for public health, prisons, mental health, human resources and the state’s courts would be unchanged. All other state agencies would see a 5.5% reduction in their operating budgets.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

The Alabama State Senate and House of Representatives began their special legislative session yesterday, then quickly adjourned for three weeks.

Governor Robert Bentley had surprised lawmakers who were expecting the session to begin in August by calling it on just a few days’ notice. The session is necessary after lawmakers failed to pass a General Fund budget for the fiscal year beginning in October.

Members of the Alabama House of Representatives are returning to Montgomery today for what the speaker's office is calling a "legislative workday," despite the legislative session having ended and lawmakers being unable to take any official action.

Representatives plan to convene this morning at 10 a.m. The budget committee and several budget-related task forces plan to meet in the afternoon.

The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a General Fund budget that slashes $200 million from state agencies, after GOP lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on tax increases.

Representatives voted 66-36 for the spending plan yesterday. Most Democrats voted against the budget after criticizing the cuts.

The budget bill now heads to the Alabama Senate. House Speaker Mike Hubbard says his plan is to work with Senators for the rest of the legislative session to avoid some of the state agency cuts.

Aliceville oil train derailment
Reuters

The Alabama House of Representatives has delayed debate on a series of GOP-backed tax bills aimed at solving the state's General Fund Budget shortfall.

Yesterday, leaders in the legislature chose not to debate that series of tax bills that have divided Alabama’s Republican party. House Rules Chairman Mac McCutcheon says the budget bills are still being worked on.

The main piece of legislators’ new revenue plan is a 25-cents-per-pack cigarette tax increase.

Republicans in the Alabama House are backing off proposals to furlough state employees for two days and to suspend longevity bonuses for a year.

Both ideas were considered to help the General Fund budget. But Speaker Mike Hubbard says they aren't needed after a change to a cigarette tax bill.

The proposals drew criticisms from Democrats who say they're pleased to see the ideas dropped.

Republican lawmakers in Alabama’s House of Representatives have a new proposal to end the state's budget crisis.

Yesterday, House leaders announced a plan to fix the General Fund budget shortfall through a combination of cost-cutting, consolidation and new taxes. They plan to raise taxes on cigarettes and car rentals, cap paid state employee holidays and transfer revenue from the Education Trust Fund to the General Fund.

The proposal would raise nearly $200 million in new revenue. That’s less than half the $541 million Gov. Robert Bentley wants to raise.

Alabama’s Senate could be debating allowing medical marijuana in the state soon, since a Senate committee approved a comprehensive medical marijuana bill yesterday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4 to 3 to pass the measure. The bill was likely able to pass committee because three Republican senators failed to attend the meeting.

The legislation, if passed, would allow patients who suffer from 25 specific conditions to purchase a maximum of ten ounces of medical marijuana per month from a state-regulated dispensary.

Democrats in Alabama’s House of Representatives say it’s time for the state to consider legalized gambling as an additional source of revenue.

House Democrats revealed their legislative agenda yesterday. It includes creating a state lottery and urging Gov. Bentley to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The tribe would be allowed to operate table games without interference in exchange for giving the state a share of the revenue.

House Minority Leader Craig Ford said Alabama’s voters deserve the chance to vote on a state lottery.

Lawmakers in Alabama may ban the majority of abortions in the state if a bill currently in the House of Representatives is approved.

Rep. Terri Collins (R) of Decatur has proposed legislation to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Collins says that if the end of life is defined by the absence of a heartbeat, it makes sense to her to define the beginning of life with the start of a heartbeat.

Two Alabama economic development bills aimed at bringing new jobs to the state are another step closer to becoming law.

Alabama lawmakers passed legislation yesterday to revamp how the state offers economic incentives to companies.

The Alabama Jobs Act would create a pay-as-you-go model for tax abatements and other benefits offered to companies creating jobs or capital investment in the state. Alabama's present model offers those incentives upfront.

That bill is now headed to Governor Bentley's desk to be signed into law.

Lawmakers could give final approval very soon to legislation establishing charter schools in the state of Alabama.

The Alabama House of Representatives will debate a bill that would allow charter schools in the state this afternoon. That bill is expected to spark a filibuster from Democrats and other opposed lawmakers.

Charter schools are public schools that have freedom from the curriculum and regulation requirements placed on other public schools. Alabama is one of eight states without charter school legislation currently in place.

The Alabama House of Representatives approved a bill granting legal protections for judges, ministers and others who refuse to marry same-sex couples.

Representatives approved that measure by a 69-25 vote yesterday. It will now head to the Senate.

Republican Representative Jim Hill proposed the bill after getting calls from ministers and judges concerned that they would be required to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples if and when gay marriage is restored in Alabama..

Lawmakers want to keep the identities of the companies supplying drugs for lethal injections in Alabama a secret.

That's what a bill that just passed the state House yesterday in a 76 to 26 vote will guarantee. That bill now moves to the Alabama Senate.

Alabama hasn't executed a death row inmate since 2013, partly because the state has had trouble obtaining lethal injection drugs. Pharmaceutical companies have historically shied away from associating their name with an execution drug.

Alabama.gov

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.

Vox Efx / Flickr

Voters in three parts of Alabama will participate in special elections Tuesday to help fill vacancies in the Alabama House of Representatives.

In House District 104 that covers part of Mobile County, a Republican runoff will be held between businesswoman Margie Wilcox and Susan Hightower, who's the wife of Republican state Sen. Bill Hightower of Mobile.

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