This week in the Alabama statehouse

Alabama Statehouse

We’re in week seven of the 2015 legislative session — just 14 more working days to go.

The Senate got off to a slow start this week, as Democrats vowed to tie up session over a resolution by the Republican majority opposing Medicaid expansion.

The Montgomery Advertiser quotes Senate Minority Leader Quintin Ross: “Perception is everything,” he said after the vote. “To give the perception that the entire Legislature opposes expanding Medicaid is not true.”

Meanwhile, House Dems tried to run down the clock on a set of controversial voting rights bills. The bills would push the deadline to register to vote from 14 days to 30 days before an election, require photo ID with all absentee ballot applications, and require county election boards to purge voter lists of possibly deceased or ineligible voters.

Still, several important bills were introduced at the statehouse this week:

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Alabamians would pay a flat 2.75 percent state income tax rate under a proposal by Sen. Bill Hightower. Alabamians for Tax Reform called the proposal “a step in the right direction.”

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Rep. Ed Henry’s bill to ban abortion clinics outside public schools dropped this week. According to a report in the Montgomery Advertiser, the ACLU threatened litigation if HB 527 passes.

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Everyone with a state driver’s license or ID card who is eligible to vote would be automatically registered under Rep. Darrio Melton‘s Universal Voting Act introduced in the House this week. The bill outlines a procedure for citizens to decline (rather than apply for) the right to vote.

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Working committees also approved bills to allow private adoption agencies to turn away gay couples on religious grounds and legalize medical marijuana.

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Finally, the House approved a bill to establish a board of trustees for community colleges and another to establish virtual high schools across the state.