Halfway through session, uncertainty looming

cropped-al-capitol-building1.jpgThursday marked the halfway point of a legislative session and what happens next is still a mystery with impeachment hearings scheduled to begin Monday. Most of the big legislative items like the budgets, prisons and reapportionment have yet to pass and now much of the remainder of the legislative session could be in jeopardy.

Wednesday the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause that Governor Robert Bentley violated the state ethics and campaign finance law and forwarded their investigation to the Montgomery County district attorney.

Thursday, Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh called for Bentley to resign and Friday the Special Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee released a written report of his investigation to the committee, counsel to the governor and the public. Monday the House Judiciary Committee will begin impeachment hearings.

The House went straight to work Tuesday and continued Thursday passing about 30 bills. Legislation that would prevent a judge from overriding a jury’s recommendation in a capital (death penalty) case passed the House 78-19 and is on the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Also passing was HB36 by Rep. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville) passed, 63-33. It would extend the state’s Stand Your Ground law to churches. It does not require any training for armed church members in exchange for criminal immunity.

Tuesday, the Senate passed, 29-2, the education budget. The $6.4 million budget is about $90 million more than the current budget. It now moves to the House for consideration.

Thursday the Senate worked off a 19-bill special order calendar, passing several pieces of legislation before adjourning early afternoon.

There was movement on several pieces of legislation being monitored and supported by Conservation Alabama.

Passing the House this week was HB328 by Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton) that alters the local governing bodies’ approval process for siting a new solid waste management facility located within the jurisdiction of the governing body. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB288 by Rep. Margie Wilcox (R-Mobile) has passed the House and received a favorable report from the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill would allow the owner of a vessel to purchase one-year distinctive vessel id stickers, showing support for approved organizations. Half the proceeds would be allocated to Alabama’s state parks.

HB345 – Historic Tax Credit by Rep. Victor Gaston (R-Mobile) would renew the tax credit for the preservation, renovation, or development of historic properties received a favorable committee report this week and is in position to be debated by the full House.

HB403 by Rep. Randy Davis (R-Daphne) as amended and reported by the House Committee on State Government allows for riparian property owners to dredge sand and sediment from in front of their riparian property for living shoreline restoration. It now goes to the House for consideration.

HB473 by Rep. Johnson and Rep. Tuggle was introduced yesterday and would propose an amendment to the constitution that would require additional payments from the Alabama Trust Fund for the Forever Wild Land Trust to reimburse counties for lost ad valorem taxes.

There remain lots of uncertainty as to the remainder of the legislative due to the impeachment hearings and the possibility of a Senate trial.  As always we will keep you updated with any new developments.

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