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For Immediate Release: March 10, 2020

What's happening on Capitol Hill?

As the State House of Representatives moves into its sixth week of the 2020 session, Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, said several bills have moved out of committee to be discussed and voted on.

“We’re still pretty early in the session and we’re just now getting to the point to where there’s going to be some major stuff coming up probably in the next few weeks, but there hasn’t been a whole lot yet,” Rich said.

Last Thursday, Rich said the House got “hung up” on a bill that would give law enforcement the authority to impound the vehicle of a person who was caught driving without ever having a license.

“[The bill] is designed to apply to situations where illegals have been driving vehicles and never had a driver’s license,”  Rich said. “It would give police and law enforcement authority to impound their vehicle.”

He said the bill would only apply to people who have never had a license and not to people who currently do not possess a license but have had one in the past.

Rich said the House could not reach an agreement on the bill, so it was carried over to be worked out and voted on in a later session.

“You never know from one day to the next what is going to bog you down, hold you up and keep you from getting to something,” Rich said.

Rich has been working personally on a teachers’ bill of rights, which has moved out of committee and is set to be voted on in the coming week, he said.

The bill contains 10 provisions spelling out protections for Alabama teachers.

“The main objective with the bill is to give teachers some rights to not put them in a position where they have to put up with a bunch of junk that they shouldn’t have to put up with,” Rich told The Reporter.

If the bill passes, teachers would have the right to be free from frivolous lawsuits; to discipline students up to and including corporal punishment and remove an unruly student from the classroom; to have their “professional judgment and discretion” respected by the school and district; to “teach in a safe, secure and orderly environment” free from “recognized dangers;” to be treated with “civility and respect;” to request parent participation in disciplining a student; to not have to fill out an “excessively burdensome” amount of paperwork; to have a mentor and receive proper guidance when first starting out; and to collaborate with other teachers each week.

He said he patterned his draft of the bill of rights after several other states that already have them in place.

The 10 provisions read as follows:

“1. A teacher has the right to teach free from the fear of frivolous lawsuits, including the right to qualified immunity and to a legal defense, and to indemnification by his or her employing board of education, for actions taken in the performance of duties of his or her employment.

“2. A teacher has the right to use appropriate means of discipline up to and including corporal punishment as may be prescribed by the local board of education, and, so long as the teacher follows approved policy in the exercise of his or her responsibility to maintain discipline in the classroom, the teacher shall be immune from civil or criminal liability.

“3. A teacher has the right to remove any persistently disruptive student from his or her classroom when the behavior of the student prevents the orderly instruction of other students, or when the student displays impudent or defiant behavior, and to place the student in the custody of the principal or his or her designee.

“4. A teacher has the right to have his or her professional judgment and discretion respected by school and district administrators in any disciplinary action taken by the teacher in accordance with school and district policy.

“5. A teacher has the right to teach in a safe, secure, and orderly environment that is conducive to learning and free from recognized dangers or hazards that are causing or likely to cause serious injury.

“6. A teacher has the right to be treated with civility and respect.

“7. A teacher has the right to communicate with and to request the participation of parents in appropriate student disciplinary decisions.

“8. A teacher has the right to complete only paperwork that is not excessively burdensome and that, if required by law, regulation, or policy, adheres to the law, regulation, or policy and does not result in overly cumbersome interpretations of that law, regulation, or policy.

“9. A beginning teacher has the right to receive leadership and support, including the assignment of a qualified, experienced mentor who commits to helping him or her become a competent, confident professional in the classroom and offers support and assistance as needed to meet performance standards and professional expectations.

“10. A teacher has the right to be afforded time during the school day or week to collaborate with other teachers.”

Rich said he is keeping an eye on the medical marijuana bill that passed out of committee in the Senate toward the end of February.

“The Speaker [of the House’s] position is that we’re going to see what the Senate does with it,” Rich said. “If they were to pass a bill, then we would look at it when it comes to us, but we don’t have a clue what, if anything, they will pass.

“If I were to vote to do anything on medical marijuana it would have to be very, very tight and very strict,” Rich added. “It would have to be where people couldn’t abuse it … The problem other states have had … people abuse it for recreational purposes. If it was left open where that could happen, I wouldn’t be for it. It’s got to be very tight and very strict before I would support it.”

For More Information Contact: Marshall County Legislative Office, 256-582-0619

For More Information Visit This Website: Legislator gives update of ongoing state congressional session

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