25 bills passed in state Senate this week
by Chris Norwood
TALLADEGA COUNTY – It was a productive week in the state Senate, with things beginning to move more slowly in the house, including passage of the education trust fund budget, according to members of the Talladega County delegation.

“We had three days this week, and we went in early and stayed late,” Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga said Friday. “We got about 25 bills passed.”

Among those was a bill that would put all of the state’s vehicles under a fleet manager at the state Department of Transportation. “I think that will be a benefit to the taxpayers, because it will allow better management and be more cost effective.”

Another bill increases the penalties for leaving a child unattended in a vehicle and for public assistance fraud. Yet another senate bill consolidated the handling of unclaimed property, refining the claims process and allowing accrued interest to benefit the state treasury.

Fielding said the Confirmation Committee, of which he is a member, approved seven members of state textbook committee, including Ben Crawford of Talladega, who is a local history scholar and collector of history texts.

Three members were appointed to the real estate commission, three to the Firefighters Employee Standards and Training Committee and one each to the Manufactured Housing Board and the Sickle Cell Anemia Board.

The Senate will take up the House’s $5.7 billion education trust fund next week, he said.

This budget includes a 2 percent raise for teachers and will allow the state to pay for teacher liability insurance. This cost is currently borne by the Alabama Education Association.

Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga, cited the Education Trust Fund Budget and two supplemental appropriations as the major accomplishments of the week.

“We got teachers a pay raise, and we were able to increase the appropriations for the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind and Talladega College. I believe Talladega College is getting a 1.4 percent increase over last year, and AIDB is getting an additional $1 million.”

The house also voted to repeal a disabilities act approved during the last session that did not allow for people on disability to be exempted from property taxes. That exemption has been restored, he said.

The House adjourned early Thursday because of weather concerns.

Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, said “you always want more, but with the revenues we had to work with coming in, it’s a good budget. It’s as good a budget as we could expect. The chairman (of the budget committee) was gracious enough to get us supplemental appropriations for Talladega College and AIDB. They’re doing good work at AIDB, and they deserve it.”

Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston, was not available for comment Friday afternoon.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com

© 2013