News & Updates

February 17, 2017

Legislative Session Update, Week 2

Week two was a contentious week with filibusters in the House, a vote of confidence in the House Republican Caucus on the House Majority Leader, changes to the controversial Alabama Accountability Act and a Resolution to Impeach the Governor.


- SB32/HB153 would require students to pass a high school civics exam. Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, students would have to successfully pass a civics test identical to the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to graduate from high school or obtain a high school equivalency diploma.

- HB100 (by Rep. Phil Williams) titled American’s First Act, would block state funds to colleges and universities that declare themselves so-called sanctuary campuses for immigrants in the country illegally. The bill passed the House 72-28 and would authorize the attorney general to block state funds to colleges that do not follow state and federal immigration law. The measure now moves to the Alabama Senate.

- SB 154 introduced by Sen. Cam Ward would increase penalties for heroin and fentanyl possession.  The legislation would increase prison sentences for people who possess or sell heroin and fentanyl - a change some people fear could reverse progress on prison reform. The changes would no longer allow those convicted of heroin or fentanyl possession to avoid the possibility of prison time, and would impose mandatory minimum sentences for fentanyl trafficking based on the amount. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is many times more powerful than heroin. The two drugs are often mixed together, increasing the risk of death from overdose.  In Jefferson County alone, more than 200 people died from overdoses of heroin or fentanyl in 2016, according to the coroner’s office. The number of people who died after using fentanyl more than doubled between 2015 and 2016. Other counties have also experienced increases in overdose deaths linked to powerful opioids.

- SB 188 introduced by Sen. Orr, relates to unemployment benefits and would reform the length of time benefits are available to be on a sliding scale tied to the state’s average unemployment rate.

- SB 90 passed the Senate and would create a Judicial Resources Allocation Commission authorized to increase or decrease the number of circuit and district court judgeships based on rankings determined by population, caseload, judicial duties in the circuit and other criteria.

- Sunset Bills,  The House passed bills to continue boards and commissions requiring renewal.

- HB 221/SB205,  would create the State Transportation Commission, which would be appointed by the governor and have the authority to select the Director of the Department of Transportation.

-  Election for U.S. Senate Seat - Although Governor Bentley has announced the date for the election to coincide with the 2018 General Election, the Legislative Reference Service has issue an opinion that the law calls for the election to take place “forthwith” and should be ahead of the date set by the Governor.

For More Information Visit This Website: Week 2 (Alabama Reporter)

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