Alabama Senate

After hours of debate over the lack of a raise for state employees, the Alabama House of Representatives finally approved a General Fund Budget.

Representatives voted 72-28 in favor of the $1.8 billion budget late last night. The funding bill now moves to the state Senate.

Montgomery lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to add some sort of raise or bonus for state employees, who haven't had a cost-of-living increase since 2008.

Rep. Napoleon Bracy of Prichard says lawmakers wouldn't expect to work 10 years without a raise.

The Alabama Senate has approved a bill that would stop requiring probate judges to sign marriage licenses.

The bill comes as a few probate judges in the state continue to refuse to issue marriage licenses to anyone so they do not have to issue them to same-sex couples.

Senators voted 22-6 for the bill yesterday. The measure now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.

Instead of a license signed by the probate judge, Republican Senator Greg Albritton's bill would require couples to file a form and affidavit with the probate judge to record their marriages.

 House representatives have passed a bill requiring cell phone companies in the state to hand over location data to law enforcement agencies when asked. 

The measure says communication providers would need to share a person's location in a situation involving a risk of death or serious bodily harm. It passed without opposition Thursday.

Republican Rep. Tommy Hanes of Scottsboro sponsored the bill and says it will save lives.

Draper inmates
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser

The state Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a plan to build four new, massive prisons in Alabama this afternoon.

The bill would authorize Alabama’s Department of Corrections to build three massive new men’s prisons and a new women’s prison, and would close over a dozen of the state’s existing prison facilities.

It would be financed by an $800 million bond issue that would leave the state paying $50 million a year for thirty years. Supporters including Governor Robert Bentley say the new prisons would save about that much money in operating costs.

The Alabama House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a bill prohibiting judges from imposing a death sentence after a jury recommends life imprisonment.

Alabama is the only state that allows judicial override of jury sentence recommendations in capital murder cases.

Lawmakers sponsoring the legislation will hold a press conference later today in Montgomery.

Alabama death row
EJI

Alabama may be close to putting an end to the unusual practice of allowing judges to hand down death sentences in capital murder cases despite a jury recommendation for life in prison.

The state Senate approved a bill yesterday that would end the state's status as the only one in the U.S. that allows a judge to override a jury when sentencing capital murder cases.

Senators approved the bill 30-1. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where a similar bill has cleared committee but faces an uncertain future on the House floor.

State Senate Approves Bill Revising Alabama Accountability Act

Feb 23, 2017

The Alabama State Senators have approved a bill that will revise the Alabama Accountability Act.

The Alabama Accountability Act is a thirty-million dollar program was implemented in 2013. It is the nation’s first refundable tax credit for educational expenses. The act provides state income tax credits for donations to scholarship granting organizations.

The Alabama Senate may debate a bill later today that would prohibit judges from imposing a death sentence after a jury has already recommended life imprisonment.

Alabama is currently the only state in the country that allows judicial override of sentences in capital murder cases.

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.

An Alabama senator says the federal government should cover most of the cost of caring for county jail inmates with mental illnesses.

Sen. Cam Ward, a Republican from Alabaster, says counties currently pay for the entirety of detainees' psychiatric health care. He has introduced a bill that would shift 70 percent of those costs to the federal government under the Medicaid system.

The legislation would also allow county inmates to resume federal mental health care benefits immediately after release.

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.

A state senate committee has approved a bill that would require Alabama high schoolers to pass a basic civics test before graduating.

Senator Arthur Orr, the Decatur Republican that introduced the bill, says citizens right now don't know enough about their government. He cited a survey that found a third of people couldn't name the three branches of government.

Critics say Alabama schools already teach civics and call the test a waste of time.

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.

Alabama Senators managed to find a compromise on how to spend an incoming BP settlement package from the 2010 oil spill, splitting it between state debts, Medicaid and coastal road projects.

WKRG-TV reports lawmakers in south Alabama say there isn’t enough money to fund all the projects that need completing, but the legislators have a plan.

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.

Lyric and Alabama Theaters
Joe de Sciose

The Alabama House of Representatives approved Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery last night by an extremely tight margin.

Representatives voted 64-35 for the bill late last night, barely clearing the 63 votes required to clear the 105-seat House. The vote came after 10 hours of back-and-forth debate and two vote attempts.

Lottery supporters cheered in the House as newly-elected Speaker Mac McCutcheon announced the bill's eventual success.

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 State House
AP

The Alabama House of Representatives will take up debate on a lottery proposal championed by Governor Robert Bentley after it narrowly passed the Senate last week.

The bill would put the establishment of an Alabama lottery to the voters for the first time since 1999. The House Tourism Committee could hear the bill tomorrow.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
AP

A proposal to establish a state lottery is heading to the House of Representatives as Senators were finally able to break their gridlock and narrowly pass a measure.

This bill, backed by Governor Robert Bentley, would put the idea of creating a state lottery to the first public vote since 1999. This bill does not allow for any electronic gambling terminals like the measure proposed by Sen. Jim McClendon. It merely establishes a lottery, with the vast majority of revenue going to the state's General Fund.

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.

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.

State Senate Looks at Education Budget

Apr 12, 2016

Alabama is looking to increase teacher’s salaries. APR’s Student Reporter Josh Hoppenstein has more on how this might happen…

The Alabama Senate Finance and Taxation Committee are debating whether or not a new budget will give most public school teachers more money.

The Senate will be voting on the budget this Wednesday. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said he would like the full Senate to vote on the issue.

If the proposed budget is passed then teachers as well as other employees’ salaries will increase by about four percent.

Alabama senators have approved establishing an innocence commission to review some of the state’s capital convictions.

Senators voted 20-6 in favor of the bill yesterday, sending it to the House of Representatives. The proposed legislation would create a panel to review new evidence in death row cases that hadn't previously been heard by a court.

Bill sponsor, Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker, says he supports the death penalty in Alabama, but he thinks the state should work harder to make sure people are guilty before executing them.

Ed Henry
Albert Cesare / Montgomery Advertiser / AP

An Alabama lawmaker is following through on his threat to file an impeachment resolution against Governor Robert Bentley. APR’s MacKenzie Bates reports this move is in the wake of a scandal involving one of the governor's top aides, who has since resigned.

Hartselle Republican Rep. Ed Henry introduced the resolution yesterday. The action comes after Bentley admitted that he made inappropriate remarks to the former aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. However, Bentley denied suggestions that the two had an affair.

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