Alabama Senate

The state House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would mandate insurance coverage for autism therapy.

Representatives voted 100-0 in favor of the bill yesterday. It now moves to the Alabama Senate. The bill mandates coverage of an autism treatment called applied behavioral analysis therapy. The Autism Society of Alabama says Alabama is one of only five states that does not require the coverage. Parents whose children have autism and have received the therapy have called it “life-changing”, but it’s also very expensive.

Alabama lawmakers are one step closer to allowing a Birmingham-area church to establish its own police force.

The House Public Safety Committee approved a measure that would allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church to set up its own police department. Church officials say they need their own police force to keep their school and their more than 4,000 person congregation safe.

The Alabama Senate voted to protect faith-based adoption organizations refusing to place children with gay parents or in certain other households because of their religious beliefs.

The Alabama Senate approved that bill on a 22-9 vote yesterday.

The legislation would prohibit the state from refusing to license or sign contracts with faith-based adoption groups that refuse certain adoption placements because of their religious beliefs.

Alabama lawmakers have voted to require high schoolers pass a civics exam before graduating.

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the bill 68-31 Tuesday. 

 Decatur Republican Representative Terri Collins says her legislation is intended to ensure young people know how their government works.

The exams will be introduced during the next school year and are identical to the naturalization test given by the federal government. Students could take the 100 question quiz until they pass it.

The Alabama Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would allow people to carry a concealed handgun in Alabama without a getting a permit. In the state House, debate has been postponed on a bill that would close a loophole currently exempting faith-based day cares from state regulation.

Senators are scheduled to debate the concealed weapon proposal submitted by Republican Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa this evening.

The Alabama Senate has voted to allow a church to form its own police force.    Lawmakers on Tuesday voted 24-4 to allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish a law enforcement department.  

The church says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe.

An Alabama committee has passed a bill allowing death row inmates to be executed with nitrogen gas.    The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the measure 6-3 Wednesday.  

 Montrose Republican Senator Trip Pittman says his bill would make Alabama the second state in country behind Oklahoma to allow a person to be put to death with nitrogen.

      State lawmakers return from spring break Tuesday to a full plate of issues. State budgets, prison construction and action on the proposed impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley are among the matters set to be decided before the session ends in late May.   

   The State House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to end Alabama's practice that allows a judge to impose a death sentence when a jury has recommended life imprisonment. Alabama is the last state to still allow a judge to override a jury's sentencing recommendation in capital murder cases. 

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

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

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

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

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.