A look at what passed and failed in the Alabama legislature
Alabama lawmakers ended the 2019 legislative session on Friday. Here’s a look at some of the proposals that passed and failed this year.
WHAT WAS APPROVED:
Gov. Kay Ivey called lawmakers into special session to approve the gas tax increase to fund road and bridge construction. The 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase will be phased in over three years beginning with a six-cent increase on Sept. 1.
The ban makes it a felony to perform an abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger. It is anticipated that it will be blocked by the courts. A lawsuit has been filed challenging the ban.
THIRD GRADE READING
The legislation will require third graders to meet reading benchmarks before moving to fourth grade. The bill also spells out initiatives, such as requiring regional reading specialists to work with struggling students, to boost test scores.
STATE SCHOOL BOARD
Alabama voters will decide next year whether they want to abolish the elected state school board and replace it with a nine-member commission. Members would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Alabama Senate.
PAY RAISES FOR TEACHERS, OTHERS
Teachers and other public school employees will receive a 4% pay raise. State employees will receive a 2% raise. Lawmakers also voted to raise the pay for correctional officers as the state faces a federal court order to add officers.
PAROLE BOARD OVERHAUL
The bill makes multiple changes at the state parole board, including making a gubernatorial appointee who could be dismissed at will by the governor. The board currently hires the director.
The legislation prohibits businesses from paying workers less than employees of another race or sex for the same work unless there are reasons such as seniority, a merit system or productivity to account for the difference.
JAIL FOOD FUNDS
Alabama lawmakers voted to end a practice that allowed some sheriffs to pocket leftover jail food funds. The bill requires the food allowance to go into a separate account that can only be used for feeding prisoners.
CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE
The measures would track how often prosecutors use civil actions to seize a person’s property for suspected criminal activity. State prosecutors agreed this year to track the forfeitures, but the legislation would mandate it.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA STUDY COMMISSION
Lawmakers voted to create a medical marijuana commission that would make recommendations for legislation that lawmakers might consider in 2020.
The governor signed into law two bills aimed at expanding broadband access. One bill expands an existing grant program for broadband providers in rural communities. Another allows electricity providers to use existing infrastructure to provide broadband services.
Marriage licenses would be replaced with a new form called a marriage certificate. The change comes after several probate judges stopped issuing marriage licenses so they don’t have to give them to gay couples. Judges wouldn’t have to sign the new forms before a wedding.
The measure would require a person to wear a seat belt in the backseat of a moving vehicle. The legislation is named for a Montgomery teen killed in a car crash.
A proposal to start a state lottery cleared the Alabama Senate, but it did not get a vote in the House.
A bill to allow a person to carry a concealed handgun without getting a special permit failed to win approval in a Senate committee. The bill was backed by gun rights groups but opposed by state sheriffs.
The bill would have made possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by a fine instead of jail time. An Alabama Senate committee advanced the bill, but it did not get final approval.
The Senate approved a bill that would allow people with certain medical conditions to purchase medical marijuana with a doctor’s approval. However, the measure stalled in the House.
The proposal would extend the time that people have to repay a payday loan to 30 days. The proposal was designed to give borrowers more opportunity to raise the funds needed to repay a loan.
The proposal would have required student to attend kindergarten before starting first grade. Most students do attend kindergarten, but it is not mandatory.
A Senate committee shelved a proposal that would have done away with a ban on gifts to public officials but replaced it with a requirement to report everything that was given.
The proposal would have forbidden motorists from holding a cellphone and other devices while driving.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)
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