Alabama Legislature

An Alabama Senate committee has advanced a bill to let faith-based adoption agencies, including those that care for state foster children, turn away gay couples on religious grounds. 

The Senate Health Committee on Wednesday voted 6-1 for the legislation that would prohibit the state from refusing to license or sign contracts with adoption groups that refuse services to people on religious grounds.

The long-time Republican majority leader in the House of Representative has stepped down a week after surviving a confidence vote.  

Republican Representative Micky Hammon of Decatur announced Wednesday that he was stepping down as majority leader. He will continue to hold his House seat.

 Hammon, in a brief statement, said it was time for new leadership for House Republicans.

Hammon has served as majority leader since Republicans won a legislative majority in 2010.

State Senate Delays Vote on Alabama Memorial Preservation Act

Feb 16, 2017

The state Senate has delayed a vote on a bill that would bar changes to historic or Confederate monuments in Alabama.  

Senators said Thursday that they needed more time to review the measure.

The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act comes amid regional debate over the appropriateness of monuments, street names and buildings with visible links to slavery.

The bill would forbid changes to or the removal of monuments that have been on public land for more than 50 years.

New House Minority Leader Talks Workforce Development

Feb 13, 2017

The minority leader of the Alabama House of Representatives is rolling up his sleeves for his first full week of work.

Democrats voted last Wednesday to elect Representative Anthony Daniels of Huntsville as their leader. The Speaker of the House, Representative Mac McCutcheon is also from the Huntsville area. The two plan to hold meetings in their mutual hometown.

Alabama lawmakers are back in Montgomery today to begin the 2017 legislative session.

One major priority will be redrawing legislative districts, after federal courts ruled the boundaries of 12 Alabama voting districts relied too heavily on race. Federal judges say they want new lines in place for next year’s elections, so lawmakers will need to work quickly to get a new legislative map in place.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a state law that blocked a plan to raise the minimum wage in Birmingham.    U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Alabama Chapter of the NAACP and Greater Birmingham Ministries on behalf of minimum wage workers.

The Birmingham City Council voted to raise the city's hourly minimum wage to $10.10. The Alabama Legislature, before the increase took effect, last year swiftly passed legislation requiring a uniform state minimum wage.

Embattled Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has been forced to empty his leftover campaign funds to pay legal bills as he fights an impeachment push and fallout from a scandal.

Bentley filed his campaign finance report yesterday. The report shows the governor's campaign paid more than $320,000 in legal bills last year.

Some lawmakers want high school seniors to pass the U.S. citizenship test before graduating.

Senator Arthur Orr and Representative Terri Collins said Monday that they are introducing the bill in the 2017 legislative session that begins next week. 

Orr said everyone should have a "working knowledge of our government."

The legislation would require students pass the test, with at least a 60 percent grade, in order to get a diploma. Students would be able to take the test multiple times.

The Alabama state legislature reconvenes next month, and one bill that has been pre-filed would clamp down on public restrooms in Alabama.

The bill bears several similarities to the so-called “Bathroom Bill”, HB2, that passed in North Carolina last March, requiring individuals to use restrooms and changing facilities corresponding with their biological sex.

Alabama's secretary of state says an error that forced nearly three million ballots to be reprinted cost the state over $450,000.

Secretary of State John Merrill announced the final cost for the reprint yesterday. He says the exact cost was $459,690.80.

Merrill says an employee made a transcription error in a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at protecting funding for Alabama's state park system.

A newly-created panel is trying to find ways to make it easier for nearly 2 million Alabamians to eat healthier food.

The Alabama Healthy Food Financing Initiative Study Commission met this week to address the problem of so-called "food deserts" in the state. State lawmakers created the commission earlier this year.

The group will consult with retailers and health experts to develop projects that could be sent to the state legislature as recommendations for action during the next legislative session beginning in February.

A federal judge is considering the state of Alabama’s request to dismiss a lawsuit over a new law that blocked a minimum wage increase in Birmingham.

District Judge R. David Proctor held a hearing yesterday afternoon on the motions to dismiss. Last year, the Birmingham City Council voted to raise the city's hourly minimum wage to $10.10. Just before that law took effect, the Alabama Legislature quickly passed legislation requiring a uniform minimum wage throughout the state.

The University of West Alabama is planning to launch a program that would give future teachers scholarships and other assistance if they pledge to teach in a Black Belt community for at least three years.

The Tuscaloosa News reports that the first round of scholarships for the Black Belt Teaching Corps will be awarded in the upcoming spring semester.

Dean Jan Miller says the Julia S. Tutwiler College of Education at the University of West Alabama will award 10 scholarships each year to education majors.

ribbon cutting
Alex AuBuchon / APR

State lawmakers and education officials gathered in Tuscaloosa yesterday to celebrate the expansion of public preschool in Alabama.

The dignitaries cut the ribbon on two new preschool classrooms at Verner Elementary School in Tuscaloosa. Those are two of 155 new preschool classrooms opening this year throughout the state, serving 2800 more of Alabama’s four-year-olds than last year. That’s thanks to a $16 million increase in funding from the Alabama Legislature.

An Alabama judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s plans to build a beachfront hotel with BP settlement money stemming from the 2010 oil spill.

Yesterday, Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin ruled Jim Zeigler had no authority to bring the lawsuit against Governor Robert Bentley in Zeigler’s official capacity as State Auditor.

Alabama State House
AP

State lawmakers have decided how to spend Alabama’s incoming BP settlement money from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday, state Senators voted 22-8 for a compromise plan to use the money for a mixture of paying down state debts, funding Medicaid and building roads in coastal Alabama counties.

The bill now moves to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature. The plan, if signed into law by the governor, will steer $400 million to repay state debt, $120 million to road projects and $120 million to the state’s Medicaid program.

A legislative conference committee plans to make a last-ditch effort to break a deadlock on how to use Alabama's settlement money from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The committee will meet this morning to try and come up with an agreeable compromise between sharply divided lawmakers.

A state legislative committee looking into the possibility of impeaching Gov. Robert Bentley has denied the governor’s requests to suspend their investigation.

House Judiciary Chairman Mike Jones says the impeachment probe is moving forward despite Bentley’s repeated pleas to the contrary.

The governor and his lawyers asked the committee to halt their investigation until lawmakers clarify their concerns. The request was accompanied by an Aug. 25 letter from the House Judiciary Committee's special counsel saying their concerns with the Governor had been well-publicized.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

A lottery bill is heading to a critical vote in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Today’s vote could determine whether a proposed state lottery goes before Alabama voters later this year or if the bill dies in the special session.

House members will debate Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery. Bentley is seeking the first statewide referendum on the establishment of a lottery since voters rejected the idea in 1999.

Alabama Senators will be debating how to divvy up the state’s portion of oil spill settlement money amid a looming hole in the Medicaid budget.

The Alabama Senate is expected to take up the settlement bill today. A version of the legislation passed the House last week. Debate on the Senate floor could get contentious, though, as Senators can’t seem to agree on how much money should help Medicaid and how much should go toward road projects on the Alabama coast.

A legislative committee will hold a public hearing later today on a lottery bill that narrowly passed the state Senate last week.

The House of Representatives Economic Development and Tourism Committee will hold a hearing this afternoon on the proposal to amend the state’s constitution to establish a state lottery. Senators approved the bill Friday on a 21 to 12 vote.

Alabama Senators have once again failed to vote on a lottery proposal.

The Senate spent much of the day yesterday debating and revamping a lottery bill backed by Senator Jim McClendon that would establish a state lottery as well as electronic gambling machines in several Alabama locations. But Senators ultimately decided not to vote, after a test vote indicated the bill didn’t have enough support to pass.

Two dueling lottery bills both stalled in the state Senate yesterday amid deep disagreements over how to enact the proposal.

Alabama senators debated both bills for several hours before finally giving up and moving on to other legislation. One, backed by Governor Robert Bentley, would simply establish a state lottery and use the proceeds to shore up the state’s general fund. The other, backed by Senator Jim McClendon, would also allow for electronic slot machine-type games at the state’s four dog tracks.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Alabama’s Senate and House of Representatives are back in Montgomery once again to try and find a solution to the state’s budget woes.

Governor Robert Bentley called the special session of the state’s legislature to find funding for Medicaid, infrastructure and state debt repayment. One of the most popular plans is to amend the state constitution to set up a lottery, with revenue directed into Alabama’s ailing General Fund.

The Alabama House and Senate are set to gather in special session today.

Governor Robert Bentley wants lawmakers to consider a constitutional amendment to create a state lottery. If the legislature says yes, then state voters will get to vote up or down on the idea in November. The Governor wants the money to go the general fund to help pay for Medicaid.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says lawmakers will have questions and suggestions.

Governor Robert Bentley is calling for a special session of the state legislature.  He wants to focus on Alabama's financial woes and says the focus of the session will be on passing legislation to allow Alabamians to vote on a state lottery. The Governor released the video below this morning...

Democratic National Convention
Wikimedia

Alabama lawmakers are currently being polled about support for lottery legislation as Governor Robert Bentley contemplates calling a special session on Medicaid funding.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says legislative leaders are gauging interest from state legislators. Marsh says the discussions come as Governor Bentley contemplates calling a special session that could include a lottery bill.

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.

MARTE
Alabama Astrobiotics

Alabama’s state preschool program has been named the best in the country for ten years running.

The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks pre-kindergarten programs across the country each year based on quality. For the tenth year in a row, the institute named Alabama’s state-funded First Class Pre-K program the nation’s best. Alabama met or exceeded all of the institute’s quality benchmarks examining things like student-to-teacher ratios and educator qualifications.

 State lawmakers ended the 2016 session with three big items of unfinished business: the oil spill settlement division; Medicaid funding and prison construction. 

Governor Robert Bentley recently said he's considering calling a special session later this year for another try.

The governor's $800 million prison construction plan was the centerpiece of his agenda, but didn't get approved by lawmakers.

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