Democratic state Sen. Quinton Ross of Montgomery is the new minority leader in the Alabama Senate. The Senate Democratic Caucus announced that it picked Ross to replace Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, who did not seek another term. The caucus said Figures will become the group's treasurer.
Ross is taking over the leadership of a smaller minority. Going into the Nov. 4 election, Democrats held 12 of the 35 seats in the Senate. They now have eight.
The new Alabama Senate elected in November will get to serve in a redesigned Senate chamber in Montgomery.
Senate Secretary Pat Harris says his staff is gutting the Senate chamber, including the removal of gray laminate desks and podiums that have been there since 1985. He's asked the state's two-year college system to build hickory desks and podiums that will be stained dark. The walls are also being redone and the audio system reconfigured to provide more evenly distributed sound.
Harris says the project should be finished by Nov. 15 and cost less than $200,000.
The Alabama Senate is trying to give people a new way to raise money to start small businesses.
The Senate voted 31-0 Thursday for a "crowd funding" bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur.
The legislation is backed by the Alabama Securities Commission. It would allow someone trying to start a small business in Alabama to use social media and advertising to find small investors who live in the state. It is limited to raising $1 million, and it is restricted to Alabama businesses and investors because of federal regulations.
A state senator who was in charge of a committee that drew Alabama's senate districts has denied that the process was intended to create more Republican districts.
Republican Sen. Gerald Dial of Lineville testified in federal court Thursday that his only goals going into the redistricting process were to prevent incumbents from facing each other, to avoid reducing the percentage of minorities in majority black districts, and to protect communities of interest.
An Alabama Senate committee has delayed consideration of a bill to support efforts by Gov. Robert Bentley's administration to build a hotel and conference center on the beach at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores.
The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee meeting was postponed Wednesday because there were not enough members present to have a quorum and conduct business. Committee Chairman Republican Sen. Paul Scofield of Guntersville says he will call another meeting either later this week or next week to consider the bill.
The Alabama House and Senate are divided over whether a school flexibility bill should include flexibility with teacher tenure laws.
The House passed a bill Feb. 14 to allow city and county school systems to have flexibility in complying with state education laws, including tenure. The Senate rewrote the bill Thursday to exclude tenure. The House refused to go along with the Senate's changes and sent the bill to a six-member conference committee to try working out the differences.
Government consolidation and efficiency in on the agenda for the Alabama Senate.
Senate leaders said the Senate's work agenda Thursday will include a bill to consolidate and reorganize the more than 20 law enforcement programs in state government. The Senate also plans to take up bills cutting the number of legislative service agencies and reorganizing the state's information technology services, including creating a Cabinet-level secretary for information technology.