Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Long day in the Alabama Senate

Following passage of the Alabama Education Trust Fund Budget the Alabama Senate passed HB147 pertaining to breast and cervical cancer. Senator Benefield addressed the bill stating that this bill provides Medicaid coverage no matter where the patient is diagnosed. Current law only allows Medicaid coverage for those diagnosed at county health departments but this legislation would provide coverage for patients diagnosed at their private physician. According to Senator Benefield, fifty thousand people in the state are eligible for this coverage between the ages of fifty and sixty-four.

Senator Bedford stated that this bill closes the loop hole in Medicaid coverage. Bedford believes this is an example of how the Alabama Legislature can come together and do what’s best for the people of this state. He also stated that this is an example of how his life experiences can spill over into his professional life, since Bedford is a cancer survivor. Senators Bedford and Benefield noted their desire for Alabama to be a leader in healthcare for our nation, mentioning some of the state’s great facilities in south Alabama and Birmingham.

The senate is still going strong at a quarter until 7:00.

Senate passed the Education Budget

After a cloture vote of 28 to 3 the Alabama Senate passed the Education Trust Fund budget with unanimous consent.

Cloture looming for Marsh, still no ED Budget

Delays continue on the senate floor over the education trust fund budget. Senator Singleton proposed an amendment to assign more funding for the federally funded Head Start Program which was tabled.

Senator Del Marsh (R) continues to filibuster even after Senator Sanders has begged him to let the vote arise. There are discussions of trying to cloture Senator Marsh which would require eighteen signatures for the budget which some republicans might agree to sign.


Listen to the Alabama Senate Live

Senate Republicans stalling Education Budget

Senate republicans are stalling a vote on the education budget while Senator Sanders holds court with a bipartisan group on the senate floor.

It is rumored that Governor Riley's office is holding up the education budget but it unclear why the office would want to stall the vote.

Rep. Jay Love Shows Support for Beauty Queen Taking Stand on Traditional Marriage

In case you missed the Miss USA pageant this weekend, one of the pageant judges, Perez Hilton, posed a question to Carrie Prejean, Miss California USA, regarding gay marriage.

He asked her if she felt all states should move toward allowing same-sex marriage to mirror the efforts of states like Vermont and California.

Ms. Prejean answered, “I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other…same sex marriage or opposite marriage. I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman…that’s how I was raised.”

Not only has she been publicly criticized for her stance, but her answer has lead many to conclude, including Perez Hilton, that she did not capture the Miss USA title because of her position supporting traditional marriage.

In a show of support for Ms. Prejean’s willingness to stay true to her personal convictions, Rep. Jay Love of Montgomery (R) has presented a resolution commending Ms. Prejean.

Representative Love said that there are those “telling people what they can believe and what they can say” which he said is wrong. He further said he does not believe it is right that she should be punished for saying marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Beason picking a fight with four-year-olds

Discussion on the Alabama Education Trust Fund Budget continues.

Senator Scott Beason questioned additional funding for the pre-kindergarten program (First Class) in the State of Alabama. Senator Beason said he believes Alabama should have a strong K-12 program and put all of the funding into those programs rather than pre-kindergarten.

Senator Sanders noted that extended research shows that students who participate in pre-k programs tend to do better than students who begin with only kindergarten. Beason later noted that he didn’t even attend kindergarten and Senator Sanders did not have the opportunity to attend kindergarten because kindergarten did not exist.

Following Beason introduced an amendment to the Education Budget that would take away a large chunk of money from the pre-kindergarten program established in the budget and would reassign that money to classroom teachers. This would give schools approximately $400.00 per classroom for teacher use.

Senator Sanders made a motion to table Senator Beason’s amendment and it passed with a vote of twenty-six to three.

House Begins Debate on General Fund Budget

The House convened at 1:00 this afternoon and began initial discussions of the 2010 General Fund Budget.

Representative John Knight (D), chair of the Government Appropriations Committee, is currently presenting an overall view of the General Fund Budget in light of the stimulus dollars that the state will be receiving. For further details regarding this version of the budget, refer to last Thursday’s blog on the General Fund Budget meeting that took place in the House.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Education Trust Fund on the Senate Floor

At 2:25 the Alabama Senate called up the Alabama Education Trust Fund Budget (ETF), SB570. Senator Hank Sanders is the chairman of the Finance and Taxation Education committee. Sanders noted that this budget is late this year because of waiting on including federal stimulus dollars in the budget.

Senator Sanders also noted that this budget has between $800 and $700 million dollars less than the current year’s budget and that the stimulus money will fill the hole with about $300 million dollars. Senator Sanders offered a substitute first before taking in questions on the budget.

Stay tuned for more ETF budget happenings.

Back to work in the Senate on the 22nd Legislative Day

The Alabama Senate convened this afternoon at 1:00 pm with talks of the Education Budget coming up on the floor. Currently the senate is taking up a house bill that would allow Sunday sale of alcohol in ALL Alabama counties, HB175.

Senator Hank Erwin who recently announced his candidacy for Lt. Governor has introduced four amendments to the bill. Including language to prevent any such election to take no sooner than two years apart.

Stay tuned for more from the Alabama Senate.