MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama lawmakers are speeding toward the end of this year’s legislative session. Lawmakers expect to close out the session Wednesday, five days early.
Here’s a look at what’s to be decided and what proposals are already dead in the session’s final days.
WHAT’S TO BE DECIDED:
The bill would exempt economic developers from the state ethics law. The state’s top job recruiter sought the change, saying professional site developers will not work in Alabama if they must register as lobbyists. Opposed senators said they are concerned it could open up a wide loophole in the state ethics law. Lawmakers are trying to work out a compromise.
EDUCATION TRUST FUND
A conference committee will focus on the final details of the education budget for the next fiscal year. Lawmakers have said the priority this year would be the state budgets. The state’s other budget, the general fund, has received final passage.
The bill seeks to keep low-level juvenile offenders out of state lock-up through policy changes and providing more resources for programs while the child remains at home. Nearly two-thirds of the children in DYS custody in 2016 didn’t commit a felony, according to a state task force’s report.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday could make a second attempt at trying to debate a proposal that would require law enforcement officers to collect data on race and traffic stops. Republicans on Thursday overwhelmingly refused to bring the bill up for debate, sparking a filibuster from African-American lawmakers.
The bill would lower the number of weeks a person can receive jobless benefits. The maximum unemployment benefit period would drop from 26 weeks to between 14 weeks and 20 weeks, depending upon the state’s average unemployment rate. The bill also raises the maximum benefit by about $40 per month.
County school superintendents would no longer be elected under the bill. It would require all county superintendents to be appointed by the county board of education unless the county passes a constitutional amendment. The state has more than 30 elected school superintendents.
WHAT BILLS ARE DEAD:
The bill would have allowed designated teachers, after undergoing training, to carry firearms in schools. The bill by Rep. Will Ainsworth was introduced in response to the deadly school shooting in Florida that killed 17. It did not get a vote on the House floor amid divisions among the GOP majority, an expected Democratic filibuster and questions about existing law.
ASSAULT RIFLE AGE/ GUN CONTROL
The bill would have raised the age limit to buy an AR-15, and other semi-automatic long guns, from 18 to 21. The proposal by Rep. Juandalynn Givan did not get a vote in committee after most Republican members did not attend the meeting slated to debate gun control proposals. Other gun control proposals also died.
The proposal would have stripped the lieutenant governor of legislative duties. Supporters argued the Senate, like the House, should elect its own presiding officer. Critics called it a power grab. It did not get a vote in the Senate.
Lawmakers shelved a proposed overhaul of the state ethics law proposed by Attorney General Steve Marshall. With Marshall’s agreement, lawmakers said they wanted to study the issue and debate the plan next year.
The bill would have done away with the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun. The legislation was dropped for the session following the shooting at a Florida high school that claimed 17 lives.