Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Senate Republicans block SB279

The second bill on the senate’s special order calendar was SB279 which would provide for a ten year road and bridge construction program to be funded with withdrawals from the Alabama Trust Fund.

If enacted, beginning January 1, 2010 and continuing through January 1, 2019 the board of trustees of the Alabama Trust Fund would transfer $100,000,000.00 from the Alabama Trust Fund annually to be distributed as provided by the bill. Seventy-Five percent of the annual transfer would be appropriated by the legislature to the Alabama Department of Transportation for state highways, roads, and bridges and other transportation purposes to be further allocated. At least five million of this amount would be used in each congressional district in the state.

SB279 did not pass with a vote of 19 yeas and 11 nays. SB279 would need to receive at least 21 yeas to pass the Alabama Senate. Senator Marsh (R) said he will work with Senator Barron (D) on this bill, encouraging him that there is still enough time left in the legislative session to get this bill passed.

Senate Bill 367 passes the Full Senate

Senate Bill 367-- pertaining to mortgage financing program and mortgage guarantee fund, established, Housing Finance Authority to administer program and State Treasurer's Office to administer fund, appropriation from Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund, Home Buyers Initiative Act--passed the Alabama Senate.

Senator Barron said this bill is great for the state of Alabama and shows that the members of the Alabama Senate are not just going to wait around on the federal government to bail them out. Barron hopes this bill will create jobs and industry in Alabama for many years to come.

With a vote of 28 yeas and 1 abstention SB367 passed the Alabama Senate.

HB373 “Free the Hops” passed the Alabama House of Representatives

HB373 “Free the Hops” would further define the term “beer” for ABC licensing purposes, to include malt beverages with higher alcohol content (13.9% increase of alcohol content).

First to take his fifteen minutes was Representative Bridges. Bridges said he thinks this bill would encourage more drinking, help people get intoxicated quicker and have less quality of life just because Alabama is trying to keep up with other states. Following Representative Bridges were three other members. Representative Holmes spoke against the bill stating that Alabama should focus on other things that affect the citizens of Alabama rather than the content of alcohol in gourmet beer.

With a vote of 49 to 37 House Bill 373 passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

Black Caucus Filibuster in the Alabama House

While the Alabama Senate took up sunset bills beginning at 2:00 pm CST, the Alabama House continued on their Special Order Calendar. Following some slight controversy over HB183 pertaining to methamphetamines, House Bill 146 regarding DNA testing of all persons arrested for a felony offense, fees, appropriation from DNA Database Fund to Forensic Sciences Department received a short filibuster from the House Black Caucus. HB146 passed after a thirty minute debate with 98 yeas, 1 nay from Representative Mitchell and 1 abstention from Representative Holmes.

HB373 “Free the Hops” has just come up on the House Floor.

Day 9 from the Alabama House

The Alabama House of Representatives convened at 1:00 pm CST. Following committee reports the Alabama House passed some uncontested bills then moved to their consent and special order calendar.

House Bill 183 by Representative McDaniel pertaining to methamphetamines--drugs containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine used to manufacture methamphetamines provisions prohibiting sales after October 1, 2009 deleted—caused the first stir in the House on the 9th legislative day.

Representative Alvin Holmes challenged Representative McDaniel about his intentions for this bill. Holmes noted that meth affects more whites in Alabama than blacks. Holmes noted that McDaniel has never sponsored a bill that would keep cocaine off of the streets. Representative Holmes urged Representative McDaniel to focus on all drug problems in the state rather than just those that affect a higher percentage of whites.

Further down the House Special Order Calendar today is a bill that has gained much popularity over the past year, HB373 “Free the Hops” pertaining to alcoholic beverages, beer, and definition to include malt beverages with higher alcohol content. Stay tuned for Free the Hops updates.

Inside the Alabama State House

The Alabama Senate following committee reports and bill introductions moved to their special order calendar proposed by the Rules Committee.

The Senate Special Order consisted of two bills sponsored by Senator Lowell Barron, SB367 and SB279. The first bill, according to Barron, is a stimulus package for the state that is tied to homes and homebuilders.

Senator Barron addressed the full senate stating that the concept for senate bill 367originated a couple of months ago. Barron said he began trying to discuss with various groups things that the legislature could do to stimulate jobs and boost the economy.

This bill would set aside $6,000,000.00 from the Capitol Improvement Fund, which was passed to allow the Governor to build industry. SB367 creates a “who will back the mortgages” in case one company is bad and goes under. This would guarantee up to 40% of the mortgage and give additional assurance to the mortgage holder. The Alabama Housing Finance Authority would administer the program and service the mortgage loans originated under the program.

The Alabama Housing Finance Authority created in 1980 has over 17,000 homes in their portfolio, their foreclose rate on the loans financed is .08% compared to Alabama’s 1% and the national foreclosure rate of 3.5%. Senator Barron says that this kind of management would finance more than seven thousand new or existing homes in Alabama.
The Alabama Senate is currently taking up Sunset Bills. 2:00 pm CST.