Bills to follow during the 2015 Alabama Legislative Session

The 2015 Alabama Legislative Session kicks off it’s marathon session tomorrow in Montgomery. Tackling issues such as charter schools to consumer debt, Alabama legislators will have plenty to deal with.

Here are a few issues to keep an eye on as session prepares to start.

LIQUID


Death by electric chair – Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Not so much according to this bill. SB11 would bring back use of the state’s dormant electric chair. Under current state law, if one is sentenced to the death penalty, they may choose between lethal injection or the electric chair.

According to AL.com, an inmate sentenced to death row hasn’t been executed since 2013 because the state does not have the drugs available.

SB11 would alter that provision. Inmates may still choose their way of death, but if lethal injection is unavailable, the state would put them to death with the electric chair.

Priorities for Republicans, I guess.


Debt collectors – An interesting bill that may not pass but is worth watching is one that deals with debt collectors. Senator Linda Coleman introduced the legislation.

By way of the bill’s text (SB 29), it would “prohibit the collection of a consumer debt by any party not in possession of at least a copy of the original contract” and “would allow consumers to record abusive telephone calls by debt collectors.”

Sounds good so far, right? It gets better. Senator Coleman’s bill would “prohibit consumers from arrest or imprisonment for failure to pay a consumer debt” and would shift power back to the consumer and away from the collector.

Because Republicans hold a majority in the House and Senate, Coleman’s bill will be tough sledding.


State charter schools – The Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act may be on the precipice of creation in Alabama. Republicans are behind the proposed legislation and are looking to improve student education in Alabama.

SB 45 is wide ranging and allows for the creation of 10 public schools in the first year and give funding to newly created charter schools. The bill would also create a charter school commission that would oversee the state’s charter schools.

All charter schools would fall under Alabama’s Department of Education and would be governed by the rules of local school boards.


Community college scholarships – By way of HB38, this bill would set aside five million from the state’s Education Trust Fund for the creation of a scholarship in “career-technical dual enrollment programs.”

While this bill isn’t likely to generate much interest, it’s worth noting for what it may provide.

For Alabama’s community colleges, students who enroll in career-technical dual programs will become eligible for the scholarship.

A potential free ride to college subsidized by the state is information worth noting.


Guns – Guns in the south are as much of a religion as football. Alabama, like Florida, seems to introduce gun legislation each session.

2015 is no different.

SB14 pushed by Senator Gerald Allen “would authorize a person to carry a pistol without a license on property under his or her control, in his or her vehicle, in his or her place of abode, in his or her fixed place of business, and on the property of another or vehicle owned by another, with consent.”

This bill also allows for the gun to be loaded.

Not really sure why this type of legislation is needed and for the provisions of “loaded” and “without license” to be included. But they’re in there and will move forward once session begins tomorrow.


Alabama minimum wage – With no state minimum wage law, one lawmaker is attempting to create one for the state.

Representative Mario Melton has filed HB42, a piece of legislation that would set the state’s minimum wage at $9.80 per hour.

If passed, the increase would be phased in three stages with the final stage coming on January 1st, 2018.

The law would also require a “raise” in the minimum wage in 2020 and every three years after based on the state’s consumer price index.

The 2015 Alabama Legislative Session starts on March 3rd.

-JH

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