Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The 7th Legislative Day brings about continued progress in the Alabama House

The Alabama House of Representatives continued to function as usual, passing the following House Bills:

• HB382 (Representative Knight) relating to oil and gas, offshore, severance tax altered, determination of basis altered

• HB148 (Representative Fite) relating to computers and other property used to solicit a child or transmit obscene material to a child subject to forfeiture, procedure.

• HB221 (Representative McMillan) Sex crimes involving children, solicitation by computer, Internet, or otherwise, crime further provided for, penalties, jurisdiction includes place of transmission.

According to Representative McMillan there is currently a loop hole in Alabama law pertaining to when an undercover officer poses as a minor to catch an adult soliciting a minor. Existing law does not address officers of the law posing as a minor. Currently criminals are pleading not guilty to soliciting a minor stating that since they were not communicating with a minor that they did not violate state law. This bill would make it a crime to solicit a minor even if that minor is an undercover officer.

This law would strengthen the penalties for soliciting and taking a minor across state laws; it would also expand the definition of an electronic device used to solicit a minor. Representative McMillan mentioned that the Gulf Shores Police Department in a two month period caught 23 men that thought they were communicating with minors.

Other states have similar bills; Representative McMillan said this bill will help Alabama stop remaining a target. HB221 passed the Alabama House with a vote of 84 yeas and 0 nays.

• HB282 (Representative Gipson) "Graduated Driver's License" relating to motor vehicles, three-stage graduated licensing, driver training program, age requirements for licensed driver with student, age requirements for licensed driver accompanying driver with learner's permit, restrictions on persons 17 years of age with regular driver's license.

Representative Gipson said this bill is protecting everyone, not just the driver but the passengers in the car and other drivers on the road. Gipson also stated that statistics show that states that have adopted these laws have seen a reduced number of deaths related to teenage driver car accidents.

Proposed Stages:

I-Learning Permit (15 years-of-age)

II-Restricted Licensing -16 year-of-age)
After the 6 month restricted license period, providing that the driver has no violation, he/she can go automatically to the stage III, regular driver’s license.
During a stage II drivers license technological devices are prohibited including cellular telephones, GPS devices, and IPODs.

III-Unrestricted or Regular License (Starting at 16 and ½ years-of-age until 18 years-of-age)

HB282 passed the Alabama House of Representatives with 80 yeas and 10 nays.

• HB347 (Representative Guin) relating to accountants, certified public accountants, practice privilege provided for out-of-state CPA's, administrative fines increased, standards of Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) added to auditing standards.

• HB60 (Representative Newton) relating to Alabama Security Regulatory Board, established, licensure and regulation of security officers, subject to Sunset Law

• HB89 (Representative Johnson) relating to Real estate agents and brokers, advertising size of type requirements altered, reciprocal licensing requirements

• HB173 (Representative Fields) relating to County officers, bonding for performance of official duties. Amended by Representative Knight.

Back in full force on Day 7

The Alabama Senate convened at 2:00 pm CST this afternoon; much to the dismay of a number of people the Senate passed many uncontested local bills without much conflict. The Alabama Senate took up Sunset Bills pertaining to local legislation.

Currently Senator Phil Poole is at the podium filibustering in the Senate.

The Alabama House of Representatives convened at 3:00 pm CST today. Beginning with uncontested local bills, one bill that caused a stir was House Bill 363 pertaining to Bingo in Greene County. The speaker seeing that HB363 was contested immediately moved forward.

The first bill on the Special Order Calendar was Representative Knights bill, HB382 relating to oil and gas, offshore, severance tax altered, determination of basis altered. Representative Knight said this bill would not have a negative impact on the general fund stating that he has worked with the Governor’s office on this bill.

Representative Knight clarified that this bill is revenue neutral and is based on gross proceeds. He said with this bill there would be no dispute about deductions and there would be no loss to the general fund or the state of Alabama. HB382 takes away the gray area and makes taxes a lot easier to calculate and protects the state from disputes and potential loss. With a vote of 96 yeas and 1 nay House Bill 382 passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

Currently Representative Alvin Holmes is at the podium questioning the Speaker about President Obama’s stimulus package and Governor Riley’s plan for the stimulus package.