By Mimi Penhale, Legislative Director
The Shelby Delegation has been busy around the district this summer. When the 2016 Regular Session ended in May, the Delegation returned home to their full time jobs and legislative work around their districts.
Most of the Shelby Delegation members have jobs other than their legislative job, so once session ends, they are back working full time at their careers. Although they are working full time, the Delegation has been busy to make sure that they are meeting the needs of the people they serve. The time away from Montgomery has been filled with meetings with constituents, community service grant presentations, legislative conferences, and catching up with city and county officials.
As we approach the end of the summer, the members of the Alabama Legislature find themselves called into a Special Session by Governor Bentley. The Special Session will revolve around a proposed lottery in Alabama and to discuss how the BP Settlement money is to be used in the state, with the ultimate goal of trying to solve the problem of an overburdened General Fund Budget. The Governor believes that the lottery could help solve the overstrained General Fund Budget in Alabama, specifically Medicaid in Alabama. Despite an increase in next years proposed funding for Medicaid, the department is still receiving $85 million less than they requested. As of now, the shortfall means that individuals on Medicaid will have a harder time accessing health services in their area, especially in many rural areas in Alabama.
The BP Settlement money has been hotly debated topic. Legislators from all over the state have different views on how the money should be divided up. Lawmakers from south Alabama, especially Baldwin and Mobile counties, believe that more money from the settlement should come to their counties. These counties were hit the hardest by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, which resulted in loss of jobs, tourism, and food production, especially seafood, in these areas. Other lawmakers argue that restoration projects for the affected areas have already been funded by separate money, so the entire state should benefit from the settlement.
Lawmakers can agree that the General Fund Budget in Alabama has been over stretched and unless they find a new source of money, state services for constituents are going to suffer.
Shelby County Represenatives during Health Committee Meeting
Senator Ward Discusses Prison Reform
Rep, Weaver Named 2015 Rural Electric Assoc. Representative of the Year
Rep. Allen Farley and Rep. Dickie Drake at State House
Senator McClendon works on Redistricting in Al
2017 Regular Session Delegation Bills
By Mimi Penhale, Legislative Director
The 2017 Regular Session is well underway and this session is already shaping up to be exciting. As always, budgets and funding concerns are a top issue for legislators. This session will also feature a bill on building prisons, a bill that would remove the requirement to have concealed carry permits, bills in both the House and Senate related to the Impeachment process, and a bill that would eliminate the state grocery tax. With all these topics gaining major interest, sometimes other legislation gets over looked. Read on to see what your Shelby Delegation is working on.
Rep. Jim Carns has one bill filed so far this session. His bill would make Southern Research Institute exempt from state, county, and municipal sales taxes. Rep. Carns is serving as the Chair of both the Commerce and Small Business Committee and the Jefferson County Delegation, as well as, serving on the Children and Senior Advocacy, the Shelby County Delegation, and the County and Municipal Government Committees.
Rep. Dickie Drake has three bill filed, at this time. These bills focus on military issues, which are very important to Rep. Drake, as he continues to serve as Vice Chair of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. Two of the bills focus on the creation and funding of the Alabama Job Creation and Military Stability Commission and the third bill would allow military recruiters access in schools.
Rep. Corley Ellis, the newest member of our Delegation, was elected to fill Mike Hill’s vacancy last fall. Rep. Ellis is in his first session as a legislator and he is serving on the Local Legislation, Financial Services, and Shelby County Delegation Committees. During this time, he is focusing on learning the legislative process and helping constituents who need guidance within governmental agencies.
Rep. Allen Farley has filed one bill this session. The bill would require the Department of Corrections to allow inmates to purchase non-driver identification cards prior to being released. Rep. Farley is serving as the Vice Chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, as well as serving as a member of the Children and Senior Advocacy, Judiciary, Shelby County Delegation, and Jefferson County Delegation Committees.
Rep. Matt Fridy has ten bills he is currently carrying this session. The bills range from laws giving Probate Judges contempt powers, eyeglass sales, pro-life legislation, establishing the Transportation Commission, parental rights, and legislation allowing public servants’, who die in the line of duty, spouses the ability to keep receiving benefits after remarrying. Most notable of Rep. Fridy’s bills is one that would establish term limits of four full terms for members of the Alabama House and Senate.
Rep. Arnold Mooney has filed two bills so far this session. His bills focus on granting certain authority to healthcare providers and a bill that would allow law enforcement employment authorization for Briarwood Presbyterian Church. His healthcare bill would allow healthcare providers the authority to decline to perform a service that violates their conscience.
Rep. April Weaver is carrying twelve bills this session. Her bills focus mostly on Healthcare issues, such as, tax credits for rural physicians and dentists, civil immunity for volunteer caregivers, making it a criminal penalty to traffic Fentanyl, and several bills related to the State Nursing Board. One of Rep. Weaver’s bills would create the Safe Birth Options Act, allowing lay midwives to register as a state board and assist with delivers at birthing centers. Rep. Weaver also has legislation related to indigent defense, minor mothers, and a bill that would make it a crime of assault in the second degree to injure a social worker while preforming their duties.
Sen. Slade Blackwell has two pre-filed bills, both of which focus on insurance. One the bills he is carrying would makes amendments to the Alabama Risk-Based Capital for Insurers Act and the other would waive continuing education requirements for some Insurance Adjusters who have already done specific coursework for licensing. Sen. Blackwell is not new to this kind of insurance legislation, as he is again serving as the Banking and Insurance Chair.
Sen. Jim McClendon, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Health Committee, has filled three bills so far this session. This year, his legislation is ranges from Shelby County Board of Education elections, schools allowing students to use sunscreen at school, and midwifery in Alabama. His local legislation, if passed, would restrict cities with their own Board of Education from electing the Superintendent of the Shelby County Board of Education. His midwife bill would establish a State Board of Midwifery to license and regulate the practice of certified professional midwifery.
Sen. Jabo Waggoner is carrying ten bills, so far, this session. His prefilled bills range in focus from alcohol sales, local government training institute, clarifying the Real Estate Commission’s authority, exempting certain entities from sales tax, require hospital directory to be sent to the Department of Public Health, the Security Commission compensation, Birmingham City Council, historic buildings income tax credits, and municipal parking enforcement procedures. His historical buildings bill, which he also carried last year, would extend the tax credit for the rehabilitation of qualified structures in Alabama. He will continue to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and the Jefferson County Delegation, as well as, Vice Chair of the Senate Confirmations Committee.
Sen. Cam Ward has filed nineteen bills this session. His large list of legislation focuses on a variety of things, a few of which are prisons, inmate issues, healthcare, municipal weed abatement ordinances, family law, and eminent domain, to name a few. He is also carrying several companion bills that our House Delegation members are also carrying. By introducing these bills in both the House and Senate, the legislators are increasing the chances that the bills will get passed. This will be his seventh session as Judiciary Chairman, and he will continue to focus on the prison overcrowding crisis.
While this may seem like a large number of bills being carried, often times only a few will pick up enough traction to actually get passed. Some of this legislation will not garner enough attention or votes to pass during the Regular Session, so legislators will be left to either carry it next session or drop them until they can get enough support. Only time will tell what bills the Alabama Legislature, and the Shelby Delegation, will pass this session.
- Shelby County Legislative Delegation Support Locals' Contribution to Alabama's Bicentennial
- Corley Ellis takes over vacant seat in House District 41
- Summer congestion shows need for wider I-65 says lawmaker
- Shelby County announces Compact 2020 initiative
- Alabama senator makes one last push for lottery vote before end of legislative session