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.
This legislative session is almost two-thirds complete, with still a lot of work to be done. The House plans to start debating the General Fund Budget on April 21st and the Education Budget the following week. The removal of the sales tax on groceries is also expected to come up for the fourth time in what will probably be a final attempt to pass the BIR.
Gaming legislation dealing with electronic bingo is expected to consume a few legislative days in the Senate in the next week or two. This is expected to be a lively debate. Twenty-one votes are needed to pass the constitutional amendment and the Senate is currently missing three potential ‘yes’ votes because of a death, a conviction, and a promotion to Congress.
This week in the House the Black Caucus continued filibustering because the Republican members refuse to allow passage of the Budget Isolation Resolution and allow debate on the bill removing the state sales tax on groceries. In another twist, the Republican Caucus also began filibustering this week because they feel there aren’t enough Republican sponsored bills on the House Special Order Calendar. Needless, to say very little was accomplished this week in the House. Next week is expected to be more productive.
Surprisingly, the Senate did work this week passing several local and non-controversial bills. Thursday, the Senate passed SB373 that deregulates AT&T and removing them from the oversight of the Public Service Commission.
HJR 37 has passed the House and Senate. The joint resolution requests the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel to designate as an Alabama Scenic River any waterway that is designated by ADEM. This bill was drafted by Conservation Alabama and Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster).
SB462 by Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) passed the Senate on Thursday. The local legislation dealing with Franklin County prevents human sewage biosolids from being applied to land as fertilizer. The bill goes to the House.
House Bills 859-861 were introduced this week. The 3 bills sponsored by Reps. Henry White (D-Athens) and Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) prohibit rock quarries from within a certain distance of Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, Calhoun Community College of Robotics Center, and TVA Industrial Development Mega Site.