Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh

Alabama Republican lawmakers are getting ready for a major push for the establishment of charter schools.

A charter school bill will be a top priority for the GOP when the legislative session kicks off next week.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that operate outside the rules and regulations of regular public schools.

The bill, if passed, would allow up to 10 new charter schools to be established in Alabama each year. It would also allow school systems to convert an unlimited number of existing schools to charter status.

With more budget problems likely ahead for the state, some legislative leaders say they're open to the idea of a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The tribe currently offers bingo games, which resemble slot machines, but would need an agreement with the state to add table games or another location.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says he's not aware of any ongoing discussions but that everything is on the table as the state seeks long-term budget solutions.

Alabama Education Association

The main funding source for one of the largest and best financed organizations in the state, the Alabama Education Association, has ended.

The organization is no longer able to use payroll deductions to collect dues to support its activities. AEA had a court-approved deadline of Monday to comply with a newly enforced state law on limiting payroll deductions.

Laurie Avocado / Wikimedia Commons

A Huntsville legislator says he's working on changes to his bill allowing an extract from marijuana to be used to treat children's seizures from epilepsy.

Republican Sen. Paul Sanford says he will join other advocates to announce the changes Tuesday and he hopes it will improve the bill's chance of passing.

Sanford's bill was on the Senate's work agenda Thursday, but the Senate broke for the weekend without getting to it. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says he expects it to be back on the work agenda on Tuesday.

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.

Gov. Robert Bentley says the Alabama Accountability Act is designed to help students in all public schools.

The governor spoke out Monday after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal court suit seeking to block the law. The suit says some impoverished students can't access part of the law providing tax credits for families that move their children from failing public schools to private schools.

Bentley says another portion of the law gives those failing schools the flexibility to make changes and improve.


So far, 36 private schools have signed up to participate in Alabama's new private school tax credit program with less than two weeks to go before most schools start classes.

The state Revenue Department says the 36 schools range from Pope John Paul II Catholic High School in Huntsville to McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile.

Alabama's new Accountability Act provides state tax credits to parents who move their children from failing public schools to participating private schools.

State of Alabama

The Republican majority in the Alabama Legislature has handed the Republican governor a major defeat by rejecting his proposal to delay the start of private school tax credits for two years.

The House voted against the governor's proposal 57-10 Monday. Then the Senate agreed 19-15 at the urging of the architect of the tax credits, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh. Republicans provided the decisive votes.

Alabama's Republican governor isn't getting support from key Republicans or Democrats for his proposal to delay private school tax credits for two years.

The Republican architect of the tax credits, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, says a delay isn't needed.

The Senate Democratic Caucus and House Minority Leader Craig Ford say the tax credits should be repealed rather than delayed.

But Bentley is persisting. He sent a letter to legislators Friday and is contacting legislators urging them to support a delay when they wrap up the 2013 legislative session on Monday.

A sponsor of legislation designed to clarify Alabama's new law on private school tax credits says he won't push it for one week to allow more time for suggested changes.

The Senate Education Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the bill by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh of Anniston. The committee had planned to vote on the bill Wednesday, but Marsh agreed to a request from the Alabama Association of School Boards to wait a week to consider more changes. The senator from Anniston says he's willing to talk to various groups.

An architect of Alabama's new law on private school tax credits is proposing some modifications to answer questions raised by educators and parents.

The Senate Education Committee has scheduled a public hearing Tuesday on the legislation sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, of Anniston.

The Republican-controlled Legislature voted along party lines Feb. 28 to provide state income tax credits to parents who choose to enroll their children in a private school or non-failing public school rather than send them to the failing school where they are assigned.


Legislation to help protect Airbus from lawsuits involving planes built at the new plant in Mobile has moved closer to final passage in the Alabama Legislature.

The House voted unanimously Thursday for the bill that places a 12-year limit on filing lawsuits as a result of an accident involving a plane built at the new plant. A lawsuit would have to involve a problem with the airplane that arose within 12 years of when the plane was sold.

A school flexibility bill recently passed by the Alabama House won't come up in the Senate until at least Thursday.

The Senate's Republican leadership had planned to ask the Senate to pass the bill Tuesday. But Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, says they decided to wait because three Republican senators were either absent or late Tuesday. He says he hopes to bring up the bill Thursday.

The commission working on rewriting parts of Alabama's 112-year-old Constitution may soon become more diverse.

Alabama's Constitutional Revision Commission has 16 members and only one, Carolyn McKinstry, is an African-American. McKinstry told The Anniston Star ( ) that she can speak for herself, but not all African-Americans in the state.

Legislation that would allow city and county school systems to opt out of state education laws could come up for a final vote in the Senate next week.

A school flexibility bill cleared the House on Feb. 14 and was approved by the Senate Education Committee in a 5-3 vote Wednesday, with Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no. A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says the bill is a priority and could come up for a vote as early as Tuesday.

Gov. Robert Bentley says he's ready to sign whatever version of the bill the Legislature passes.