Alabama legislative preview: April 19 – April 22, 2016

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As the clock begins to wind down on the Alabama Legislature’s 2016 Regular Session, the heat will begin to build under legislators and special interests looking to pass their legislative priorities in the remaining eight working days available to lawmakers.

Here’s your weekly sneak peek at some of the most important legislation that will be considered in the Alabama House and Senate.

House — Convenes Tuesday at 1:30PM

Education Trust Fund: Both houses of the Alabama Legislature have passed their own versions of the year’s education budget, but the differences send the legislation to a conference committee before final passage can be decided. Among the most controversial sections of the Senate-passed bill is the inclusion of an amendment that would only allow teachers who obtain higher degrees to earn raises if their advanced degree is in an “area of need.” The Senate bill also includes the first pay raise for teachers since 2008.

On Wednesday the House Ways and Means Committee will consider SB287 authorizing the Alabama Corrections Institution Finance Authority to issue up to $800 million in bonds to construct and renovated the state’s overcrowded prisons.

Senate — Convenes Tuesday at 2:00PM

SB186 The Voting Rights Restoration Act” would amend the process under which convicted felons can have their ability to vote restored, expediting the process, as well as requiring state and county prisons, jails, and correctional facilities to post information about how felons can apply.

  • Sponsored by Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham)

SB78 Increases the number of years qualifying rural physicians can receive a $5,000 income tax credit from 5 to 10 years, and adds dentists practicing in rural areas to those eligible for it.

  • Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville)

SB304 Would allow Alabama Sheriffs to issue and renew the concealed weapons permits of any eligible Alabamian, regardless of county. Currently Sheriffs may only issue permits to those who reside in their county.

  • Sponsored by Sen. Jabo Wagonner (R-Vestavia Hills)

SB360 Would close Alabama’s primaries, requiring people to register with their party of choice at least 14 days before the primary vote is held. Such a measure has been particularly popular in a year where first-time and crossover voters have arguably decided primary elections in several states.

  • Sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Opelika)

SB372 Creates a new provision in Alabama’s controversial “chemical endangerment of a child” law, allowing the consumption of controlled substances under the “good faith” supervision of a physician. The chemical endangerment law came under fire last fall after a searing investigation by AL.com and ProPublica.

  • Sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Montgomery)

The House and Senate general fund budget committees have scheduled a joint meeting Wednesday to discuss the Medicaid shortfall.

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