Bill standardizing probate judge pay hits Senate committee delay

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Lawmakers declined to vote Wednesday on legislation to increase and standardize probate judge salaries across the state.

Senate Bill 369, sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley, would base annual salaries for probate judges at a percentage of that received by state district court judges. The legislation also sets salary according to county population and the number of years the judge has been on the bench.

According to a report by the Montgomery Advertiser, the bill could mean salary increases by as much as $20,000 to $40,000. Critics raised concerns the bill would pose a financial burden on smaller counties, forcing them to pay higher salaries without providing a dedicated stream of funding from the state.

Crenshaw County Probate Judge Jim Purdue spoke in favor of the legislation, pushing back on the idea that the mandate is unfunded in the state budget. Purdue argued that the revenue generated by probate judges and submitted to the general fund budget would “pre-fund” the proposed salary increases.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Cam Ward announced that the committee will meet again next week for a vote on the bill.

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