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2017 Regular Session of Alabama Legislature... What was Accomplished?

The end of the legislative season could not come soon enough for most Alabamians. As the gavel struck sine die (without further meeting) on Friday May 19th, many legislators, lobbyists and lay people left shaking their heads, some in disbelief, others in resignation, and a few with smiles on their faces. After a historic transition of leadership at the helm of state government, many feared what might transpire in the remaining time of this legislative session. However, what may be more important is what the legislature failed to address, that being the looming "prison crisis". The failure to shore up a plan to address the lack of revenue for the general fund may be just as consequential. As the BP funds drop to zero next year, the Medicaid bills climb even higher. Some call this a perfect storm for a legislative basket turnover as voters may be forced to pay more and receive less from government. Governor Ivey weathered the squall with determination and finesse. She has signed a number of bills into law that will cement her legacy as a strong conversative and hard working executive.

According to the Alabama LegiScan website that monitors legislators across the country, Alabama's legislature passed a total of around 120 bills for Governor Ivey's signature. Some of the more highly visible new laws include:

Act 2017-131 A judge may no longer override a jury's verdict in a capital murder case, Section 13A-5-45. Signed April 11. (Alabama was the only state in the nation that allowed the prior practice of allowing a judge to set aside the jury's verdict.) This Act was the first bill Governor Ivey signed into law.

Act 417 The Fair Justice Act reduces the time for inmate appeals. The signing coincided with the execution of Thomas Arthur who had been on death row for 35 years. He was convicted for the murder of business man Troy Wicker. The appeals process for substantive and procedural issues would now run concurrently rather than consecutively. Presently, there are 188 death row inmates, only five are female. Signed May 26.

HB 24 The State is prohibited from discriminating against child care service providers based on religious beliefs. Signed May 3. (LGBT groups opposed this Bill claiming faith based agencies could deny adoptions to gay couples based on religious beliefs)

HB 284 The Act mandates insurance coverage for autism therapy. Caps were placed on coverage and it stops at age18 and applies to companies with more than 50 employees. (Alabama was only one of five states that failed to provide some kind of coverage for autistic children.) Signed May 19.

SB 129 The Special Education Trust Fund budget provides for 150 more teachers (grades 4-6), total expenditure, $6.4 billion. Signed May 19.

Act 354 This act prevents local governments from moving historical monuments on public property under most circumstances.

Act 347 & 348 Reapportions Senate and House Districts pursuant to a Federal Court order.

Here are a few of the lesser known bills that passed that may have an impact on you if signed into law:

Act 319 Relates to over the counter eyeglass purchases, regulating sales and enforcement.

Act 321 Establishes non consensual towing vehicle charges by ALEA.

Act 281 Creates a nondriver identification card for parolees.

Act 284 Allows for a protective order in elder abuse cases and enhances penalties for violations.

Act 279 Increases competitive bid law for The Department of Transportation contracts to $50,000, all other state contracts $10,000.

HB 227 Provides legal immunity to one who rescues a child from a locked vehicle.

HB 96 Criminalizes assisted suicides to a Class C felony and upon conviction face up to ten years in prison and be liable for civil damages.

HB 98 Proposes a constitutional amendment to declare and affirm that it is the public policy of this state to support the sanctity of the unborn life and the rights of unborn children.

Act 190 Expands the time for audit of credit unions from annually to 18 months.

HB 95 Protects health care workers from liability for refusing to act if it violates their conscience.

Act 132 Directs schools to administer a civics test that must be passed in order to graduate.

HB 3 Allows non-resident college students to obtain resident hunting and fishing license.

Act 66 Must knowingly engage in Medicaid fraud in order to be prosecuted within a six year period.

Act 64 Extradition of alleged criminal can take place without an indictment from other state.

Act 278 Called the Sunucate Bill removes the ban of over the counter sun screen from restricted medications prohibited at schools so as to protect students from harmful sun exposure.

Laws also changed in the following counties as relates to the local jurisdictions: Geneva, Tallapoosa, Sumter, Escambia, Hale, St. Clair, Jefferson, Randolph, Pickens, Franklin, Clay, Walker, Coffee, DeKalb, Marion County, Blount, Mobile, Washington, Shelby, Lowndes, Washington, Calhoun, Covington, Autauga, Baldwin, and Clay.

Laws pertaining to military: SB 22, 218, 203, 204,97, 96. All have been signed by the Governor.

For a full list of bills passed this session you may go to the Alabama Legislature website.


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