Senate committee tackles several bills ranging from veterans to background checks

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The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs met shortly before the start of session Tuesday to move on a variety of bills.

First on the committee’s agenda was SB325 from Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville), which codifies the jobs of the newly formed Legislative Services Agency. Currently, three departments are responsible for various legislative tasks: the Alabama Law Institute, the Legislative Reference Service and the Legislative Fiscal Office. Dial’s bill would establish the Legislative Services Agency, which would oversee the operations of the three.

Dial noted that the move would decrease future spending. Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) opposed the bill, noting that earlier discussions had decided that a codification of the agency wouldn’t happen until lawmakers were able to see how the changes worked, but the bill garnered a favorable report despite the opposition.

Dial also brought SB161 before the committee, which would provide businesses owned by veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom with preferred vendor status in competitive bids. Essentially, if a veteran-owned business is within 5 percent of another bidders offering, the veteran-owned operation is given preference. The committee gave the bill a favorable report with a unanimous vote.

The committee also approved a bill from Sen. J.T. Waggoner, SB304, which will allow sheriff’s to issue pistol permits to residents of different counties. The National Rifle Association-drafted legislation is said to be for “convenience purposes” and would still allow sheriffs to revoke licenses provided to residents of their counties.

The committee also approved a bill that would require polygraph examiners to pass a background check to attain their license, as well as a bill that would extend the renewal period for driver licenses to six months prior to expiration. Currently, residents receive a notification only 30 days prior to their license’s expiration. The bill would allow residents more time to renew their driver licenses.

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