MONTGOMERY – The Alabama House of Representatives met Tuesday and passed six pieces of legislation, including bills that would increase oversight of executive branch agencies and update language in the state’s policy on sex education.
After convening shortly after 1:00 p.m. the chamber spent much of the next five hours in extended debate on two bills, with members of the Democratic Party engaging in protracted discussions of legislation they began their remarks saying they would ultimately vote for.
Seeing the most debate were HB 392 from Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) and HB 103 from Rep. Jamie Kiel (R-Russellville).
Jones’ bill creates a joint legislative committee to oversee large financial agreements made by the executive branch, and Kiel’s would prevent the state government from picking which businesses close during states of emergency.
More information on Kiel’s bill is available here.
The legislation from Jones, chair of the powerful Rules Committee, would create the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Obligation Transparency. The committee would have the authority to approve or disapprove of contracts, leases and agreements by the executive branch and the agencies therein.
Under the proposed law the committee would meet to review any financial agreement greater than $10 million or 5% of the agency’s annual appropriation from the State General Fund.
Making up the committee would be the chair, vice-chair and ranking minority members of the committees in each legislative chamber that oversee taxation.
The proposed oversight committee would be able to meet when the legislature is in or out of session. It would have to issue approval or disapproval within 45 days of a state agency submitting a proposed contract.
If the proposed committee disapproved of a contract it would be delayed from going into effect until the end of the current or next occurring general session of the legislature.
Jones noted in remarks on the floor that this delay would give lawmakers time to address via legislation the proposal disapproved of by the committee, and added that new legislation would be required to put a halt to any state contract of which the proposed committee disapproved.
HB 392 ultimately received unanimous support in the House, with a final vote of 98-0.
Also passing the House on Tuesday was HB 385 sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall (D-Huntsville). The bill updates language in the legal code that governs how Alabama educators must teach sex ed.
It also deletes from the Code of Alabama language that requires those teaching sex ed to emphasize that “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”
Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) and Rep. Charlotte Meadows (R-Montgomery), two staunch conservatives with backgrounds in education policy, spoke in favor of the legislation on the House floor and voted for its passage. The bill passed the House on a vote of 69-30.
Three other pieces of lower profile legislation passed the chamber on Tuesday:
HB 255 from Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Cullman) that would add a tenth member to the advisory board of directors of the Department of Senior Services, and let ex officio members name a designee to serve in their place.
HB 330 from Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton) that would change the outdated language in the state legal code concerning video depositions in criminal prosecutions.
HB 136 from Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island) that would designate the aquarium at Dauphin Island Sea Lab as the Official Aquarium of Alabama.
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.