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State Government

What’s happening in Montgomery: Cullman County legislative update

Left to right: Sen. Paul Bussman and Reps. Corey Harbison and Randall Shedd pictured at event in Cullman on Nov. 30, 2017. / W.C. Mann

Note: while preparing this article, The Tribune reached out to Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman, Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview and Rep. Corey Harbison, R-Good Hope.  Responses from Bussman and Harbison were not received by press time. Their responses will be published when they are available.

MONTGOMERY - The Tribune took a little time to see what the legislators who serve Cullman County have been up to during the 2018 session.  Below is a brief description of legislation sponsored by Cullman’s legislative delegation, based on the language of their sponsored bills, with the current status of each bill.

Rep. Corey Harbison

HB59 - Increases incarceration periods and establishes enhanced penalties for convictions of first, second, or third degree domestic violence if committed in the presence of a minor.  This bill would double the incarceration periods for convictions of first or second degree domestic violence if the offenses were committed with knowledge of the presence of a child under the age of 14 years at the time of the offense, if the victim was the parent or legal guardian of the child.  Passed the House and is awaiting a final reading and vote in the Senate.

HB326 - Increases salary of the Cullman County Coroner and allows Coroner to employ an Assistant Coroner.  Under this bill, effective after the 2018 General Election, the Coroner of Cullman County shall receive a salary of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), to be paid in equal monthly installments, and shall be paid out of the general fund of the county.  The salary in this subsection shall be the total compensation paid to the coroner. The coroner may employ an assistant coroner, and the salary of the assistant coroner shall be paid out of the salary of the coroner. Passed both houses, awaiting governor’s signature.

HB346 - Requires electronic filing of campaign finance reports.  Under existing law, candidates and political action committees who raise $5,000 or less per election cycle are not required to file campaign finance reports with the Secretary of State.  This bill would require a principal campaign committee or political action committee that meets the $5,000 threshold for filing campaign finance reports to file the reports electronically with the Secretary of State.  Passed House, referred to Senate committee.

HB378 - Under existing law, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance is a Class B felony.  This bill would create “McGough's Law” to create the crime of “drug delivery resulting in death.” The bill would provide that when, without intent to cause death, a person directly or indirectly sells, furnishes, gives away, delivers, or distributes a controlled substance in violation of the law and the use of the controlled substance is a contributing cause of death of another to whom the controlled substance is directly or indirectly sold, furnished, given, delivered, or distributed, the person is guilty of the crime.  This bill would also create the crime of “drug delivery resulting in serious physical injury” and would provide that when, without intent to cause serious physical injury, a person directly or indirectly sells, furnishes, gives away, delivers, or distributes a controlled substance in violation of the law and the use of the controlled substance is a contributing cause of serious physical injury of another to whom the controlled substance is directly or indirectly sold, furnished, given, delivered, or distributed, the person is guilty of the crime.  Both crimes would be class B felonies. Currently in House committee.

HB461 - This bill would propose a local constitutional amendment relating to Cullman County to provide that all allowances or amounts received by the Sheriff of Cullman County for feeding prisoners would be deposited in a special account and used for feeding prisoners in the county jail, and any excess would be authorized to be used by the sheriff for law enforcement purposes. This bill would also provide that effective beginning the next term of office, the annual salary of the Sheriff of Cullman County would be equal to the annual salary of the Judge of Probate of Cullman County. This bill, if passed, would require a local vote in Cullman County during the general election. Passed House, referred to Senate Committee.

Rep. Randall Shedd

Co-sponsored HB59, HB326, and HB461 with Harbison.

HB201 -  Amends Section 14 45-22-222 of the Code of Alabama 1975, relating to parks owned by the county; to further provide for the remaining funds in the Cullman County Park Event Disbursement Fund after all funds due to event winners have been disbursed.  Previously, the fund could be drawn upon by the Cullman County Commission or an authorized agent of the Commission or County for disbursements to the winners of a conducted event. Any funds remaining in the Park Event Disbursement Fund after disbursement to the winners of an event would immediately be transferred to the individual park fund responsible for the event and thereafter would considered public funds.  If this bill passes, those funds may be held in reserve in the Park Event Disbursement Fund for the payment of future disbursements.

Shedd said, “HB201 is a local bill to clear up a technicality for the Cullman County Commission regarding county parks. State examiners (auditors) had some technical concerns regarding park funds and this legislation clears up the confusion.”

According to the state legislative website, HB201 passed the House and Senate, and awaits governor’s signature; but over the weekend Shedd reported to the Tribune: “HB201 passed this session and became law.”

HB443 - Would enable nurse practitioners to practice without collaborating with a physician.  Existing law requires nurse practitioners and nurse midwives to practice in collaboration with physicians.  This bill would enable nurse practitioners and nurse midwives to practice within the scope permitted by the Board of Nursing and to prescribe medications within the scope permitted by the Board of Medical Examiners and the Board of Nursing without requiring them to practice in collaboration with a physician.  Referred to House committee, according to the state legislative website.

Shedd reported over the weekend that the bill had failed, saying, “HB443 is a bill that I was asked by a local citizen to sponsor regarding Nurse Practitioners.  It ran into the ire of the Medical Association of Alabama. It will not make it this session.”

HB446 - This bill would create the Alabama Rural Hospital Resource Center, within the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to facilitate access to high quality care and improve the health of rural Alabamians by increasing the viability and capabilities of eligible hospitals at no or minimal cost to those hospitals;  and would provide staffing and reporting requirements for the resource center, create a rural administrative residency program; and establish the areas in which the resource center may support participating rural hospitals. Passed House, referred to Senate committee.  

Shedd said of the bill, “This legislation passed the House, and the Senate companion bill is on the calendar this week in the House.  I expect it to pass.”

Look for information on House resolutions sponsored by Shedd, along with a report on his activities as Chairman of the House Urban and Rural Development Committee, in a separate article.

Rep. Ed Henry

Co-sponsored HB461 with Harbison.  Henry, whose district is mostly outside Cullman County, has not sponsored legislation that would directly impact the county.

Sen. Paul Bussman

SB66 - Amends the Peace Officers' Standards and Training Commission education requirement to become a law enforcement officer to include nonpublic education.  Under existing law, applicants for appointment as law enforcement officers are required to be graduates of State Department of Education accredited or approved high schools or to possess a high school equivalency certificate issued by general educational development.  This bill would include graduation from a nonpublic education program as qualifying education for applying to become a law enforcement officer in the state. Nonpublic education programs would include a private, church, parochial, or religious school or a home-school program.  Passed Senate, referred to House committee.

SB67 - Would allow Pharmaceutical Services Providers to petition Dept. of Revenue for direct refund of overpayment of supplemental privilege tax.  Existing law provides for a refund to pharmaceutical service providers for overpayment of the supplemental privilege tax on pharmaceutical services paid by those providers in the form of a credit against future taxes.  This bill would authorize the Department of Revenue, upon petition by a pharmaceutical service provider who is entitled to a credit of the supplemental privilege tax on pharmaceutical services and has unused credit remaining after October 1, 2018, to refund the provider the remaining credit.  Enacted as law.

SB68 - This bill makes an appropriation of $500,000 from the State General Fund to Anthony Ray Hinton for the fiscal years ending September 30, 2019, September 30, 2020 and September 30, 2021; as compensation for wrongful incarceration.  Referred to Senate committee.

Several of Bussman’s sponsored bills involve “sunset laws.”  Under existing law, termination dates are established for enumerated state agencies. The agencies are periodically reviewed by the Alabama Sunset Committee.  After the review process is completed, the committee prepares its recommendations for the agencies to the Legislature in the form of sunset bills which either continue, terminate, or continue with modification each agency reviewed.

SB69 - Board of Home Medical Equipment to be continued until October 1, 2022.  Enacted.

SB70 - Board of Registration for Foresters to be continued until October 1, 2022.  Enacted.

SB71 - Construction Recruitment Institute to be continued until October 1, 2022.  Enacted.

SB72 - Sickle Cell Oversight and Regulatory Commission to be continued until October 1, 2022. Enacted.

SB73 - Alabama State Board of Prosthetists and Orthotists to be continued until October 1, 2022.  Enacted.

SB74 - State Pilotage Commission to be continued until October 1, 2020.  Enacted.

SB75 - Surface Mining Commission to be continued until October 1, 2022.  Enacted.

SB123 - Concerning the State Board of Dental Examiners, this lengthy bill would:

  • define and include patient abandonment as grounds for disciplinary action against a dentist.
  • expand the exemption of mobile dental facilities subject to registration by the board from certain Jefferson County Department of Health mobile dental facilities to any mobile dental facilities operated by the Alabama Department of Public Health or local county health department.
  • revise and clarify the exemption from regulation provided for a dentist who infrequently engages in practice across state lines from less than times a year to less than 10 days a year, and would delete the exemption for practice involving less than 10 patients per calendar year.
  • authorize the board to approve and recognize additional continuing education providers.
  • expand the time during which an applicant may take the licensure examination to within 18 months after completion of an accredited or approved post-doctoral residency program.
  • require each dentist and dental hygienist to display his or her license certificate in a visible location and would allow the licensee to reproduce his or her annual registration certificate.
  • authorize the board to establish rules for continuing education requirements for permits.
  • increase the dental hygiene by regional exam application fee.
  • clarify that failure to comply with any order of the board is grounds for disciplinary action.
  • provide for the roll of the board, in lieu of the American Dental Association, in recognizing and approving specialty status in advertising by dentists.
  • remove the requirement that board member ballots accompany annual registration forms.  
  • prohibit an appointed board member from succeeding himself or herself on the board.  
  • remove the requirement that the board hold an annual meeting in Birmingham at the University of Alabama School of Dentistry and would authorize the board to hold additional meetings as the board may designate.
  • require proof of continuing education for the annual renewal of an oral conscious sedation permit.
  • make technical 16 corrections.

Passed by both houses, awaiting governor’s signature.

SB134 - Remove the State Oil and Gas Board from the sunset review process.  Enacted.

SB135 - Elevator Safety Review Board continued with certain modifications and removed from the sunset review process.  Enacted.

SB180 - This bill would require a public water system to notify the State Health Officer before initiating any permanent change in the fluoridation status of its water supply.  Passed Senate, awaiting vote in House.

SB202 - This bill would establish a 12-year or 200,000-mile depreciation schedule for funding for the depreciation in value for school buses.  The current limit on depreciation funding is ten years. Passed by Senate, referred to House committee.

SB301 - Relating to persons charged with driving under the influence and the installation of ignition interlock devices on vehicles.  This complex bill would

  • further provide for the time periods and conditions for a defendant, including defendants approved for a pretrial diversion program or released on bond, to be required to have an ignition interlock device installed and would provide for the repeal of this provision in five years
  • provide that certain enhancement provisions would not apply to ignition interlock requirements
  • provide that a portion of the court fee would be distributed to the municipal court if the case is a municipal court case when the person is ordered or agrees to have an ignition interlock device
  • delete the requirement for indigents to pay for the services; provide that a person convicted of a third offense would be authorized or required to obtain an ignition interlock device after the completion of his or her incarceration
  • require manufacturers to provide ignition interlock services to the indigent under certain conditions without charge
  • specify the number of violations for extension of ignition interlock requirements to be consistent with Department of Forensic Sciences rules
  • specify that a judge may require the use of an ignition interlock device by a person released on bond and provide for the issuance of a restricted driver's license
  • provide that the probation period of any convicted defendant would be extended to include all ignition interlock requirements.

Passed Senate, awaiting vote in House.

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