April 29 Issue
News & Views from the State House
Preparing for Primaries & Bentley-Backed Jobs Bill
On Tuesday, The Alabama House of Representatives voted 99-1 for a bill to hold the 2012 state presidential preference primary on the second Tuesday in March. Currently, both party primaries are scheduled for the first Tuesday of February. The bill also moves primaries for other state offices in presidential election years from the first Tuesday in June to the March date. Elections for most state offices are held in non-presidential election years, and the state primary in those years would remain in June.
Other activities included:
The House passed its version of a $1.8 billion General Fund budget for non-education entities of government. The House-passed version differs from that passed by the Senate and is likely headed to a conference committee.
The House defeated a bill that would allow Alabama residents to brew alcoholic beverages in their home for personal consumption.
The Alabama Senate voted unanimously late Tuesday night to approve an administration-backed bill designed to create jobs by restoring a tax break that lured the state’s first auto assembly plant in Tuscaloosa. The bill would allow new and expanding industries to keep much of the state income tax withheld from their employees’ paychecks. They could use the monies to recoup the cost of constructing their plants. They also passed funding for the Children’s Advocacy Centers, Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Children First Trust Fund.
The Senate adjourned just minutes before midnight on Tuesday and reconvened just 10 minutes later. They remained in session until 6:30 am but approved a proposed constitutional amendment and then decided to recess until later in the day. The constitutional amendment would remove provisions that levy poll taxes and provide separate schools for black and white students.
Legislators convened briefly on Thursday morning before adjourning to allow members to return to their storm-ravaged districts to assist constituents.
Proposed Pay Compensation Commission
Republican Senator Phil Williams of the Gadsden area introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to establish a commission that would have the authority to set the compensation for the Legislature. The commission would consist of six members: two legislators and four persons appointed by state officials. They would determine the compensation for the Legislature before the start of each four-year term. The proposal would also repeal the raise the Legislature gave itself in 2007. If approved by the Legislature and the voters, the new measure would start with the new Legislature elected in 2014.
The Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee voted unanimously to approve a $5.6 billion education budget that will eliminate more than 1,000 teaching positions. The budget provides slightly less money to two-year colleges and slightly more to four-year colleges. The measure is similar to the House-passed version and is expected to be debated by the full Senate next week. Read more here.
Immigration Bill Moves Forward
The Senate Jobs Creation and Economic Development Committee voted 6-0 for a House-passed bill on illegal immigration. The bill is similar to one already passed by the Senate, except it requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm that new employees are legal. The bill is likely to achieve final passage and become law. Read more here.
Bills Delayed by Storms
Bills to ban elective abortions and smoking in public facilities have been delayed. Both measures were on the agenda for the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, but not enough Senators were present to conduct business. Many legislators were away from the state house during the day checking on damage in their districts caused by the destructive storms in the state.