State Upcoming legislative session highlights | CullmanSense

State

Upcoming legislative session highlights

Guns and monuments get attention; state board of education may get replaced

Cullman’s legislative delegation: Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman; Rep. Corey Harbison, R-Good Hope; Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview; and Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle / Tribune file photos, State of Alabama

CULLMAN - As Alabama’s Legislature gets ready to begin the 2018 session, The Tribune took a peek at some of the bills that have already been filed and are waiting on legislators to arrive in Montgomery.

A note on definitions: Under the initial information on each bill, we indicated the party of origin for the bill.  The wording is taken mostly from the bills themselves, with additions by the Tribune to clarify certain points.  Where similar or related bills were pre-filed in both legislative houses, the Senate bill number was noted under the House bill explanation to avoid unnecessary repetition.

House bills

HB1 - reopening the Deferred Retirement Option Plan for state employees and teachers

Republican

Existing law provides for the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), which contractually allows a member of the Employees' Retirement System (ERS) or the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) to continue employment with his or her employer for a specific period of time, while deferring a portion of his or her retirement allowance until the end of the participation period, at which time the member withdraws from his or her service.  Existing law provides that participation in DROP is prohibited after March 24, 2011.  

This bill would reopen participation in the DROP program and would further provide options for Tier I and Tier II members to participate in DROP.

A related bill, SB2, has been pre-filed in the Senate.

 

HB2 - limitation of liability for injuries caused by animal traps to domestic animals or humans

Republican

Under existing law, a person is strictly liable for civil damages for causing injury or damage to a person or a domestic animal of a person as a result of using traps or other similar devices on public land to take, capture, or kill a fur-bearing animal protected by state laws or rules.  

This bill would limit the liability to injuries caused by traps or similar devices used on public land in violation of state laws or rules.

 

HB4 - require large commercial vehicles to use right lane on multi-lane highways

Republican

Under current law, a motor vehicle traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic is required to travel in the right-hand lane or as close to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway as practicable.  

This bill would specify that, on interstate highways and U.S. highways, a commercial motor vehicle having three or more axles would be required to travel in the right lanes unless passing or under certain other conditions.

On an interstate or U.S. highway having four lanes of traffic with two lanes moving in each direction, a commercial motor vehicle having three or more axles shall travel in the right lane unless passing a vehicle or vehicles.  The commercial vehicle may not travel in the left-most lane in order to pass another vehicle or vehicles for more than two miles without completely passing the other vehicle or vehicles unless traffic does not allow the commercial vehicle to pass and return to the right lane.  On an interstate or U.S. highway having three or more lanes in each direction, a commercial motor vehicle having three or more axles may not travel in the far left lane.  Certain exceptions are allowed, in order to deal with adverse weather conditions, road obstructions, vehicles making left turns, etc.

 

HB6 - require all able-bodied Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program recipients to work, attend school, or provide volunteer community service for benefits

Republican

Under existing law, in certain circumstances, a state may request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture of the work requirements that an able-bodied adult without dependents must comply with in order to receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).  

This bill would prohibit the Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources from requesting a waiver of federal work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents who are applicants or recipients of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.  This bill would require all able-bodied adults without dependents who are applicants or recipients of SNAP benefits to participate in minimum work requirements, provide documentation of engaging in work training, or participate in volunteer community service and would provide limited exemptions from these work requirements.

 

HB7 - require diesel exhaust systems for fire stations used by full-time fire departments

Republican

This bill would require existing non-volunteer fire departments in the state that have paid firefighters on duty eight hours or more per day to install a diesel exhaust system in the fire station building or on each of the diesel fire apparatus within a certain time frame.  Any new construction of a fire station would have to include in the design the installation of a diesel exhaust system, or if the design process is complete and construction has already commenced, the bill would require a diesel exhaust system be installed within five years.

A similar bill, SB4, has been pre-filed in the Senate.

 

HB9 - require volunteer youth athletic coaches and trainers to undergo training for injury prevention

Republican

Under existing law, there is no provision requiring unpaid or volunteer coaches and trainers affiliated with a child or youth athletic association or a political subdivision that conducts or sponsors sports or sports training activities to complete a course providing coaches and trainers with information regarding measures that can be taken to reduce the probability that a child or youth athlete will be seriously injured while engaging in youth sports activities.  This bill would require that any unpaid or volunteer coach or trainer affiliated with a youth athletics association of the state or a political subdivision of the state that sponsors or conducts any high-risk youth athletics activity where there is a likelihood that a child or youth may sustain a serious injury be required to take a course providing information to reduce those risks.  The law would apply to those working with sports programs for youth age 14 and younger.

 

HB13 - require teachers and other education employees to give 30 days’ notice when resigning

Republican

Under existing law, a tenured K-12 or postsecondary education employee may not terminate his or her employment within the 30 calendar days' prior to the beginning of a school term and is required to provide five days' written notice at any other time.  

This bill would delete the requirements for postsecondary education employees.  It would provide that the law applies to all K-12 teachers and would increase the time frame required for a teacher to give notice before terminating his or her employment at any other time of the year from five to 30 days.

A similar bill, SB14, was pre-filed in the Senate.

 

HB14 - require persons who avoid DUI conviction through a pretrial deferral program to pay the same fee to the Alabama Head and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund as those convicted

Republican

Under existing law, when a defendant is convicted of driving under the influence and a certain portion of the fine has been collected, $100 of the fine less a five percent administrative fee is deposited in the Alabama Head and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund.  Existing law does not provide for a fee to be collected and distributed to the Alabama Head and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund if a person completes a pretrial diversion or deferral program when the individual was charged with driving under the influence.  

 

This bill would provide that a mandatory fee of $100 would be collected from an individual who successfully completes a pretrial diversion or deferral program in a municipal, district, or circuit court if the individual was charged with driving under the influence.

 

HB15 - exempt from the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act any municipality whose governing body chooses not to participate

Democratic

(The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act requires local municipalities to get state permission before moving or renaming any historically significant building or monument 40 years old or older.)

Under existing law, certain entities and government agencies are exempt from the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017.  This bill would authorize any municipality to opt out of the provisions of the act upon vote of the governing body of the municipality.

A related bill, SB11, pre-filed by a Republican in the Senate, would exempt all preK-12, postsecondary, and higher education institutions and facilities from the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017, allowing those with controversial names (memorializing an event, person, group, movement, or military service) to be renamed.

 

HB16 - repeal the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act

Democratic

Under existing law, the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 provides for the preservation of certain architecturally significant buildings, memorial buildings, memorial streets, and monuments on public property, as well as memorial schools.  This bill would repeal the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017.

 

HB17 - extend the period a Governor-appointed Senator can serve before the seat must be filled by election

Republican

Under existing law, whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of United States Senator less than four months but more than 60 days before a general election, the vacancy is filled at that election.  If the vacancy occurs more than four months or less than 60 days before a general election, the Governor is required to call a special election.  Under existing law, whenever a vacancy occurs, the Governor is authorized to make a temporary appointment to serve until a successor is elected and qualified.  

This bill would require the Governor to appoint a person to a vacancy in the office of United States Senator and issue a writ of election to fill the office for the remainder of the term at the next general election occurring more than one year after the vacancy occurs.  The bill would also provide that if the vacancy occurs within 76 days of the general election immediately before the end of the term of the office, the election would proceed and if the incumbent received the most votes, there would be a vacancy in the office, to be filled by appointment of the Governor.

(If already a law, this would have kept Luther Strange in Jeff Sessions’ vacated Senate seat until the 2018 election.)

A similar bill, SB18, was pre-filed in the Senate.

A related pre-filed Senate bill, SB15, would provide that “a vacancy in either the House of Representatives or the Senate that occurs with less than two years remaining in the term would be filled by a person qualified to hold the office and appointed by the Governor,” and “also would provide that a person appointed to the vacancy is not eligible to run for the office in the election for the next full term for the office.”

 

HB20 - create the Alabama Physician Initiative to provide physicians to underserved rural areas

Republican

This bill would establish the Alabama Physician Initiative.  This bill would provide scholarships for certain medical students who are enrolled in and attending any college of medicine in Alabama and who contract with the Alabama Medical Education Consortium to practice for five years after the completion of their residency in rural areas of the state with the greatest need for physicians with funds allocated through the State Department of Public Health.

This would phase in the provision of 100 scholarships per year beginning with 25 scholarships in academic year 2018-2019 for certain medical school students enrolled in and attending a college located in Alabama and who commit to practice family medicine in rural areas of the state with the greatest need for physicians.

 

HB21 - allow hunting deer and feral swine by means of bait, with a state-issued permit

Republican

Under existing law, by regulation of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, as it relates to hunting deer on private lands, there is a rebuttable presumption that any bait or feed located beyond 100 yards from the hunter and not within the line of sight of the hunter is not a lure, attraction or enticement to, on, or over the areas where the hunter is attempting to kill or take the deer.  

This bill would allow the taking of whitetail deer or feral swine by means of bait when a person purchases a baiting privilege license from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  The permit would cost $14 plus a one dollar issuance fee, and would allow hunting on baited fields within privately owned or leased hunting lands.

 

HB24 - decrease the posting time of education personnel vacancies from 14 days to seven days

Republican

Under existing law, a local board of education is required to post notice of each personnel vacancy in a conspicuous place at each school campus and worksite at least 14 days before the position is to be filled.  This bill would require the local board of education to post notice of each personnel vacancy on the board website, at a minimum, or in a conspicuous place at each school campus and worksite, at least seven days before the position is to be filled.  Supervisory, managerial, and newly-created positions would continue to be posted for 14 days.

A similar bill, SB22, was pre-filed in the Senate.

 

HB26 - prohibit smoking of tobacco products in a vehicle in which a minor is a passenger

Democratic

Under existing law, there is no prohibition against smoking tobacco products in a motor vehicle when a minor is also riding in the vehicle.  This bill would prohibit smoking tobacco products in a motor vehicle when a minor is also riding in the vehicle.  Violation would result in fines of up to $100.

 

HB34 - protection from prosecution, under certain circumstances, for persons using deadly force against criminals on church property

Republican

Under existing law, a person is justified in using physical force, including deadly force, in self-defense or in the defense of another person under certain conditions, and an occupant of a dwelling or business property may use deadly physical force, and is legally presumed to be justified in using deadly physical force, in self-defense or the defense of another person against a person committing or attempting to commit certain specified crimes.  

This bill would provide that a person is not criminally liable for using physical force, including deadly force, in self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church under certain conditions.  Among general conditions that apply to many other locations as well, a church-specific clause removes criminal liability for the use of force against a suspect “using or about to use physical force against an employee, volunteer, or member of a church or any other person authorized to be on the premises of the church when the church is open or closed to the public while committing or attempting to commit a crime involving death, serious physical injury, robbery, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, or a crime of a sexual nature involving a child under the age of 12.”  A hearing must be conducted to make sure the conditions were met.

 

HB41 - supplemental medical coverage for certain retired firefighters diagnosed with cancer

Republican

Existing law provides for certain benefits, including insurance coverage, disability, and workers' compensation, for any active city or state firefighter who has an occupational disease, including cancer, which manifests while the firefighter is employed with the city or the state.

This bill would provide that a retired certified firefighter who is diagnosed with a cancer that is considered an occupational disease would receive supplemental insurance coverage or reimbursement of his or her actual expenses for medical treatment related to the cancer that is not covered by his or her own health insurance or Medicare, if the cancer was diagnosed within 10 years of his or her retirement.

 

Senate bills

SB3 - expand locations in which firearms may be carried, and repeal rules requiring permits for concealed carry

Republican

This bill would repeal certain restrictions on the carrying or possession of a firearm on certain property or in a motor vehicle by persons with or without a concealed pistol permit.  This bill would also revise certain restrictions on the carrying or possession of firearms at certain locations.  

The bill would allow carrying without restriction or need of a permit in wildlife management areas, on private property, and at public demonstrations or gatherings.  It would, additionally, reduce the penalty for carrying a gun while committing a crime, and allow concealed carry and vehicular transport of loaded firearms without a permit.

 

SB7 - civil penalties for terrorism, compensation for victims

Republican

This bill would provide for expanded civil liability for injuries resulting from acts of terrorism, including the forfeiture of all property used in the course of, or derived from, an act of terrorism.  This bill would authorize a person injured by an act of terrorism and law enforcement agencies or private entities involved in the investigation, prosecution, mitigation, seizure, or forfeiture process for acts of terrorism to file a claim for costs or damages to be satisfied from forfeited property.  This bill would provide for the allocation of proceeds from a forfeiture and disposition, and would specify that investigation expenses must be paid first.  This bill would provide a limitation period for asserting a claim against forfeited property.  This bill would also authorize a person injured by an act of terrorism to file an action for damages against a person committing an act of terrorism, and would authorize the recovery of specified damages.

 

SB16 - experimental stem cell treatments for patients with severe conditions

Republican

Under existing law, there is no provision to allow for the administering of certain investigational stem cell treatments to patients with severe chronic diseases or terminal illnesses.  This bill would provide for the availability of stem cell treatment options for certain patients with terminal illnesses or severe chronic illnesses under certain conditions.

 

SB20 - require information about drowsy driving in driver’s education

Republican

Under existing law, the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency may provide by rule for the topics covered on the driver's license examination and the manner in which the examination is administered.  Under existing rule, the Alabama Driver's Manual contains information on the topics tested.  This bill would require the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency to include information on the dangers of drowsy driving in the Alabama Driver's Manual and other licensing examination materials issued pursuant to its rules.  This bill would also require the State Department of Education to include instruction on the dangers of drowsy driving in its approved driver's education courses.

 

SB21 - lump sum payment to retired teachers

Republican

This bill would provide for fiscal year 2017-2018 a funded one-time lump-sum payment in the amount of $400.00 to each person whose effective date of retirement for purposes of receiving benefits from the Teachers' Retirement System is prior to October 1, 2016, and who is receiving or is entitled to receive a monthly allowance from the Teachers' Retirement System on September 30, 2017.

 

SB24 - replacement of the State Board of Education and Superintendent of Education

Republican

Under existing law, the membership of the State Board of Education includes the Governor as an ex officio member and eight members elected from districts provided by general law.  Also under existing law, the State Superintendent of Education is appointed by the State Board of Education. This bill would propose an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to establish the position of Director of Education as a cabinet level position in lieu of the State Superintendent of Education and to provide for the appointment of the Director of Education by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate.  This bill would also propose that a Board of Counsel be established in lieu of the State Board of Education and that the Director of Education appoint the members of the Board of Counsel.

If enacted into law, the terms of all current board members will end as soon as a new Director and Board of Counsel can be appointed.

 

SB25 - creation of a Board of Counsel to replace the State Board of Education (similar to SB24)

Republican

This bill would establish a 13-member Board of Counsel in lieu of the State Board of Education, would remove the Governor from ex officio membership on the reconstituted and renamed board, and would provide for the appointment of the members of the board by a Director of Education, who is appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.  It would eliminate the position of State Superintendent of Education and provide for the creation of the position of Director of Education as a cabinet level position with service at the pleasure of the Governor, specify the qualifications of the members of the Board of Counsel, provide for the terms of office and the filling of vacancies of members, and also provide for the election of a president and vice-president of the Board of Counsel.

 

SB27 - allow retired law enforcement officers to carry firearms in certain places where only active law enforcement officers are currently allowed to carry

Republican

Under existing law, a person, including a person with a valid pistol permit, is prohibited from possessing a firearm in certain designated places, including law enforcement stations, jails, mental health facilities, courthouses, and athletic facilities.  A person, including a person with a valid pistol permit, is prohibited from possessing a firearm in a building or facility to which access is limited by security measures.  These prohibitions do not apply to a law enforcement officer in the lawful execution of his or her duties.  This bill would also provide that the prohibitions would not apply to a qualified retired law enforcement officer as defined in the federal Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act of 2004.  Under the federal definition, a qualified retired law enforcement officer among other requirements has to be honorably retired with 10 or more years of service and meet the qualification for active law enforcement officers to carry firearms.

This list is not exhaustive.  For a detailed look at all pre-filed legislation, visit http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/Alison/SessPrefiledBills.aspx and https://legiscan.com/AL.

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