It was a slower week, so before you kick off your weekend, check out what happened in Montgomery during week five of the 2018 legislative session!

By the way, if you want to receive daily news hits from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to API’s Daily Clips

1. Education budget is on the move.

It was a pretty slow legislative week, but one big thing did come out of it: movement on the Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget. The House Ways and Means Education Committee met this week, where Chairman Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) introduced this year’s proposed education budget, which includes a 2.5% raise for all education employees and a $20 million increase for prekindergarten. Ten people spoke in favor of the budget on Tuesday. When the committee returned for day two of budget discussion, the $6.6 billion budget passed easily and will now go to the full house for consideration next Tuesday.

2. House says “In God We Trust” should be allowed to be displayed on public property.

A big debate this week came from a bill that aims at allowing the phrase “In God We Trust” to be displayed on public buildings. The AP reported that, “Rep. David Standridge, the bill sponsor, said he wanted to clarify that people can put the phrase on state property.” After mention on the house floor that the phrase comes from the national anthem, debate on the bill turned to debate over the history of the Star Spangled Banner, and specifically Francis Scott Key’s history as a slaveholder. The debate lasted roughly two hours before the bill passed by a 91-4 margin.

3. Payday lending might see some changes. 

Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) has proposed a bill that would, according to AL.com, “set the terms of loans at 30 days, instead of 10 to 31 days allowed under Alabama law now. . . . Efforts to roll back the cost of payday loans come and go every year at the State House, but not much changes. Orr has tried before but his latest bill is probably the simplest approach. It would change only the length of the loans.”  The bill has garnered support thus far from within the walls of the state house, but some folks on the outside—payday lenders in particular—have lobbied against the bill. After a public hearing on the bill in committee this week, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will likely vote on it next week.

4. “Upskirting” no more.

I think I’m too awkward to talk about this, but it happened this week so here we go. This week, the Senate passed a bill that criminalizes voyeurism. As reported by Mike Cason of AL.com: “Sneaking a cellphone under a woman’s skirt or otherwise secretly taking photos or videos of someone’s intimate areas would become a crime under a bill passed by the Alabama Senate.” Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) proposed this bill because two women in his district had their cases about this issue dismissed because there is no specific law on it. This bill now moves on to the house.

 

Other things that you might want to know about:

–   Folks are talking infrastructure investment again. Senate debated—and ultimately carried over—a bill this week that would allow for a building program for roads and bridges if the funds become available.

–   There’s talk of potential change to ethics law. AL.com reports that a bill by Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) that “requires legislators to get approval from the Ethics Commission before entering new business contracts to sell goods or services. . . . The Ethics Commission issues opinions for public officials about whether business and employment activities under certain circumstances run afoul of the ethics law. Pittman’s bill would expand on that, setting up a specific process for the commission to review new business arrangements for legislators in their private sector jobs.” Senator Dick Brewbaker pointed out that making the ethics laws less “murky” could encourage more business-owners to run for the legislature.

–   The fentanyl bill was discussed at a public hearing in committee this week, and it saw some opposition. The AP reported: “Kenyen R. Brown, former U.S. attorney in Mobile and a critic of the bill, said since fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs — and cases can be prosecuted based on the total weight of the mixture — low-level offenders could be treated like traffickers.” Barry Matson, chairman of the District Attorneys Association, spoke in favor of the bill: “No part of me or anybody on the proponents’ side wants to put more people in jail. . . . This is about lives. This is such a deadly substance.”

See you next week! 


MORE ON API Blog

API at Rotary: Alabama reform needed for upward mobility

The Boaz Rotary Club welcomed representatives from the Alabama Policy Institute to its Oct. 17 meeting to discuss some of the organization’s 2019 priority issues that they said were chosen to help low-income Alabamians achieve upward economic mobility. “We did some research and compared our state to others and found something disturbing,” said API Senior […]

VIDEO: API’s Parker Snider discusses anger in politics on APTV’s Capitol Journal

Parker Snider, policy relations manager for the Alabama Policy Institute, discussed anger in politics last week on Capitol Journal with Don Dailey, which airs on Alabama Public Television. Watch the interview here (interview begins at 13:20): https://video.aptv.org/video/october-5-2018-ul5nme/ To keep up with API, sign-up for our newsletter at alabamapolicy.com/subscribe

AUDIO: API fellows discuss Kavanaugh controversy on Huntsville radio

J. Pepper Bryars and Rachel Blackmon Bryars, both senior fellows with the Alabama Policy Institute, discussed the debate surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh last week on the Dale Jackson Show, which airs on WVNN 92.5 FM in Huntsville. Listen to their interview here: To keep up with API, sign-up for our newsletter at alabamapolicy.com/subscribe.

MORE ON Legislative Weekly Review

Taylor’s Top Eight: End-of-Session Edition

It’s been just over a week since the 2018 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature came to an end. After marinating on this year’s 26 legislative days, here are my takeaways in the final legislative review for 2018. There were a few pieces of legislation for which our legislators deserve a round of applause. 1. […]

Taylor’s Top Four: Legislative Review for Week 11

The countdown is on! What’s happening as the session winds down? Read below to find out! 1. Gun bills might be finished for this session . . .   With time quickly winding down in the legislative session, the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee had a meeting scheduled on Tuesday to consider several […]

Taylor’s Top Four: Legislative Session Review for Week 10

The session looks to be winding down, but we aren’t going anywhere! Here’s your recap of week 10 in the Alabama legislature. If you want to receive daily news from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to API’s Daily Clips. 1. General Fund budget has almost crossed its […]

MORE FROM Taylor Dawson

Three Reasons Why You Should Care About Occupational Licensing Reform

During my years working in public policy, there have been a handful of issues that have gotten me fired up. Typically when I tell people about them, they have some level of understanding—a state lottery, education and school choice, taxes and budgets, things like that. These days, when I’m asked about the issue I most […]

What does freedom mean to me?

When most of us think about the Fourth of July, we think about pool parties, cooking out, fireworks, and spending time with friends and family. Others think about our love for America. Some of us even wait all year for an occasion to wear a t-shirt that has the Declaration of Independence printed on it. […]

API and Yellowhammer News Release 2018 Legislative Candidate Questionnaire

Candidates for public office, once elected, bring their underlying principles and perspectives on policy issues into office with them, thus defining how they govern. It is important for citizens to know and understand the candidates for which they are voting, and Yellowhammer News and the Alabama Policy Institute (API) are partnering to bring that information […]