2019 Session Wrap-up

By Mimi Penhale, Legislative Director

This spring saw the beginning of the first quadrennium of our Delegation’s legislative service cycle. Session started off in a unique manner, with Governor Kay Ivey calling a Special Session to address infrastructure issues in Alabama. Following the special session, the legislature was faced with a number of contentious bills that addressed a variety of issues within our state, some of which became of interest nationwide.

Special Session was called during the regular session, which means that the time spent on the Special Session also counted against the number of allowed meeting days during the Regular Session. During a Regular Session, Legislators are allowed to meet in the Chamber for 30 days, within 105 day span. During a Special Session, Legislators only have 12 times to meet over 30 days. When the Governor calls a Special Session, the Governor must put parameters on what topics can be addressed during the session. When you call a special session within a Regular Session, the regular session day count is not suspended. In other words, the topic of the Special Session that the Governor has called, is the only legislation that can be addressed during those days, and the Regular Session days have also begun, so you are losing time to address other issues, unless you make your way through the Special Session quickly.

During both the 2019 Special Session and the Regular Session, several very contentious pieces of legislation were addresses. The Special Session was aimed to address the failing infrastructure in the State. In the early 1990s the Legislature added a capped, gas tax to the price a fuel, to be directed towards road and bridge improvement projects. Since then, the state has seen an increase in the number of drivers using our roads, which would be a good thing for the gas tax; however, cars have also become more efficient, meaning less gas is consumed per mile then before, but more wear-and-tear to the roads. The Governor’s infrastructure package was passed, but not without a great deal of push back from legislators and citizens in Alabama.

The State of Alabama was brought into the national spotlight with its passage of HB314, The Human Life Protection Act. This bill makes it illegal for doctors to preform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, unless the mother’s health is at risk or there is a lethal anomaly of the fetus. The act is set to go into law in November of 2019, but at this point has been suspended due to law suit. The law suit will thrust Alabama, along with several other state with similar abortion laws, into a lengthy legal battle meant to address the right-to-life or the right-to-choice within the court system.

Another somewhat contentious legislation brought up this past session were lottery bills. Since the issue of gambling is a constitutional amendment, the final passage of any lottery bill would have to be voted on by the citizens of Alabama. Over the years the people of the State of Alabama have continually voted against having a state lottery. What we have seen is that many people who wish to play the lottery are still doing so, just across state lines, meaning we are seeing possible tax dollars going to fund other states. In recent years, there has been a call from the citizens to reconsider the matter of a state lottery, with one major concern; where will the money go. No lottery bill passed this session, but we are sure to see those bills again in the next session.

Session ended in May, so our Delegation members are back in the district juggling their legislative jobs along with their full-time careers, families, and legislative commitments. Be sure to keep an eye out on your legislator’s social media page to see what they are up to now.

 

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