Senate Rules panel quickly moves array of bills to Special Order Calendar

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In a meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes, the Senate Rules Committee approved a number of bills for addition to the Special Order Calendar. Unlike other committees, the Rules Committee does not give favorable or unfavorable reports. It simply approves or disapproves of bills slated to be added to the daily calendar of bills headed for their respective bodies.

With little discussion, the committee approved the entire slate of legislation that included 20 bills.

Among those approved for a move before the full Senate was SB136 from Sen. Vivian Figures (D-Mobile), which would raise money for Medicaid via a 5-mill increase in the state’s low property tax. Figures noted in an earlier committee meeting that the move would net about $280 million by 2019 and every year thereafter.

The committee also approved SB268 from Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), which would revoke the Medicaid benefits of city and county jail inmates while incarcerated.

SB285 from Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) was also approved by the committee. Orr’s bill would put further restrictions on public assistance programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. The bill specifies that SNAP benefits should be terminated if a recipient is late on child support or any “court-ordered support payments.”

The bill would also put a lifetime limit of 36 months on TANF benefits and require the Medicaid Agency to better track the income and assets of benefit recipients. Further, the bill would require out-of-state purchases with TANF money to be tracked and a person’s citizenship to be questioned if too many such purchases are made.

The committee also approved the Unborn Infants Dignity of Life Act, HB45 from Rep. April Weaver (R-Alabaster), which provides for the “dignified final disposition of the bodily remains” of infants and prohibits the already-illegal sale of fetal tissue. Weaver’s bill has already cleared the House and its addition to the Senate calendar poises it to approach final passage.

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