This week in the Alabama legislature: May 19-21

Alabama Statehouse

What happened in the Alabama legislature this week? Plenty.

On Tuesday, the House passed a general fund budget  to the Senate for approval. House Bill 135 assumes no new sources of revenue for the state and just $1.64 billion available to spend from the general fund, an 11 percent decrease from 2014. Gov. Robert Bentley has already vowed to veto the barebones budget, calling it “unworkable” and “irresponsible.”

House lawmakers also passed funding bills for the Children First Trust Fund (House Bill 129) and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence (House Bill 134).

Thursday was another a big day at the statehouse, as the House passed the $6 billion education budget on Thursday. Rep. Bill Poole, chair of the education committee said the goal of Senate Bill 179 was to shore up funding to classrooms. The budget includes a $13 million increase for textbooks and more than $10 million for the Alabama’s nationally-acclaimed Pre-K program.

The Senate passed a bill that would make it legal to keep a loaded gun in an automobile without a concealed carry permit. Senate Bill 14 also says that simply carrying a firearm should not be considered “disorderly conduct.”

Alabama’s two partisan presidential primaries will now be held on March 1, 2016 as part of an “SEC Primary” that includes Tennessee and Georgia. Senate Bill 240,  sponsored by Sen. Quinton Ross, passed the Senate on Thursday. Ross had previously called the measure an “an economic stimulus bill” because of the expected increased attention Alabama will receive during the 2016 cycle.

Finally, Gov. Bentley signed a comprehensive set of prison reforms into law. He called the legislation an “overhaul” more than a year in the making. Sen. Cam Ward brushed away concerns that the reform bill, estimated to cost around $26 million, would be crippled by the budget cuts in the House general fund budget.

Here are a few more of the week’s highlights: