At the State House this Week
As the Policy Director for Conservation Alabama, Jeff Martin learns about State House issues firsthand. Check back here at the end of each week for his commentary on what’s going on in Montgomery.
The legislature has completed seventeen of its thirty meeting days, and many important pieces of legislation are still waiting debate, including bills dealing with gaming, ethics, economic development, and the budgets.
Rep. Jeff McLaughlin (D-Guntersville) introduced House Bill 804 this week. HB804 would require the prior approval of local municipalities and counties affected by a proposed permit relating to granite or limestone surface mining. The bill establishes guidelines for local governments to consider in the approval process, would require notice of and the holding of public hearings, and would provide access to certain information as part of the local approval process.
HB804 has been assigned to the House County & Municipal Government Committee, which is a positive step. Introduced in past years the bill has been assigned to the House Commerce Committee where it has not been favorably received. The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka), Rep. Henry White (D-Athens) and Rep. Micky Hammon (R-Decatur).
The Senate spent most of the week debating SB 373 that deals with the deregulation of AT&T. They did manage to adopt a 50 bill Special Order Calendar on Thursday managing to pass a handful of bills before getting tied up on a bill that would ban smoking in most public places.
House Bill 116 that removes the state sales tax on groceries was back on the Special Order Calendar this week not once, but twice this week. Both times ended in the same result as last week with the Budget Isolation Resolution not getting enough votes to allow debate on the bill. The House Black Caucus has continued to filibuster all other legislation because of the failed attempts to debate HB116. Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery), sponsor of the bill, has vowed to bring the bill up for a fourth attempt in the next couple of weeks.