Little accomplished during slow week in Legislature - Talladega County
TALLADEGA COUNTY – Business in the Alabama Legislature continued to move at a snail’s pace during the last week of sessions before spring break.

In the Senate, according to Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga, Tuesday was primarily dedicated to sunset bills. On Wednesday, the Confirmation Committee approved 10 appointments recommended by Gov. Robert Bentley, including three to the Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund Management Board, four to the Farmers Market Authority, one to the Real Estate Appraisers Board and one, Neil Morrison, to the Alabama A&M Board of Trustees.

On Thursday, the senate passed a handful of bills, including one that proposes a constitutional amendment on the ballot for the next general election.

“It would deal with some foreign laws that we see creeping into departments and contracts. This would bar any foreign law that might infringe on our rights under the U.S. or Alabama Constitution. That’s starting to be a problem in some domestic relations cases and in contracts with foreign countries.”

Another Senate bill moves the Alabama Development Training Institute, currently an independent agency, under the authority of the Department of Commerce, and another bill allows a 40-year prison sentence for capital murder convicts who were less than 16 at the time of their crime. Normally, a person convicted of capital murder faces death or life without parole, but Fielding said that a U.S. Supreme Court decision required states that use capital punishment to come up with a third alternative for juveniles.

A nepotism bill applying to state employees with hiring authority also passed the senate, as did a bill to drug test some public assistance recipients.

“If you’ve got a drug conviction and you apply for public assistance, you’ll get tested. If you’re positive the first time, you might get a warning, but after that you are not eligible. And there are provisions for children’s benefits through a caretaker. But we really don’t need to be giving assistance money to drug addicts.”

In the House, only two bills passed last week, according to Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston. One was a local bill that does not relate to Talladega or St. Clair counties, the other dealt with a tax exemption for exported, wholesale gasoline. Boyd supported that bill after several amendments were made to it, she said.

“The Democratic caucus is still causing deliberation, making the process work more,” she said. “We’re still not happy about the way the flexibility/accountability (bill was passed). We don’t appreciate bills being rewritten in the conference committee without any input.”

Boyd added that she had some local bills that she hoped to introduce after spring break, but didn’t know how far they would get.

Reps. Steve Hurst, R-Munford and Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga, could not be reached for comment.

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