Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ticket Scalpers Beware

HB 71, given a thumbs-up from the House, creates a Class A misdemeanor for individuals selling counterfeit tickets to events such as sporting events.

It also specifies that the ticket must have the face value printed on it even if the ticket is being sold at a greater price than the original price authorized.

House Approves Physical Education Bill

The House just passed HB719 by a vote of 70 – 20. Sponsored by Rep. Ken Guin, this bill makes physical education mandatory for students enrolled in grades K – 8.

Currently, students may be allowed to substitute other courses such as music and band for physical education. This bill removes that option.

Concerns were raised in the House that physical education classes tend to be oversized, and this legislation would only add to that problem; however, no action was taken to address that issue.

HB719 now moves to the Senate for approval.

Republicans stalling a vote on HB64-Pittman reading the bill at length

Senator Trip Pittman along with senate republicans are stalling a vote on HB64 sponsored by Representative Buskey. HB64 would require the posting of notices of vacancies in the position of State Superintendent of Education, county and city superintendents of education, Chancellor of Postsecondary Education, and certain chief executive officers.

Pittman is currently taking his first hour by reading the twelve page bill at length.

Slow Day in the Alabama House

Today the House agreed upon a calendar that began with three bills to then be followed by a ten minute calendar.

With a ten minute calendar, House members agree to speak no longer than 10 minutes on any given bill after which they will vote on the bill.

Things did not progress so smoothly, however. The first three bills consumed the last 3 1/2 hours in the House, and they are just now beginning the 10 minute calendar.

Listen to the Alabama House of Representatives LIVE!

Listen to the Alabama House LIVE!

Senate does NOT override Governor Riley's veto on HB175

With a vote of 13 yeas and 15 nays, the senate did not override Governor Riley's veto on HB175. HB175, sponsored by Representative Jimmy Martin, pertains to alcohol sales and would authorize municipal option elections in municipalities having a population of 500 or more.

Senators preach against overriding Governor Riley's veto on HB175

The Senate is currently debating overriding Governor Riley’s veto on HB175 pertaining to alcohol sales which would authorize municipal option elections in municipalities having a population of 500 or more. Senator Hank Erwin continues to filibuster on this legislation. Allowing Senator Quinton Ross to speak; Ross condemned the body for not allowing Senator Bobby Singleton’s bill, SB135, to come up for a full body vote in the Senate.

Ross believes that the body should allow this bill to reach a full vote and allow the Governor to veto the bill if he is going to veto it. Senator Ross does not agree with the hypocrisy in the senate that would stand in the way of local legislation yet try to override Governor Riley’s veto on legislation pertaining to alcohol.

Senator Charles Bishop spoke against overriding the legislation and Senator Bobby Singleton gave a lively, passionate speech.


Mr. Majority "so called" Leader

SB407, sponsored by Senator Rodger Bedford, pertaining to the lawful possession of a firearms in a motor vehicle was carried with Senator Author Orr's amendment pending. Senator Vivan Figures was not pleased with Senator Zeb Little, majority leader of the senate democrats, asking to call over this piece of legislation because it stood in the way of the amendments she wanted to offer.

Figures livened up the room by telling Senator Zeb Little how upset she was calling him Mr. Majority "so called" leader. Some members of the republican party clapped their hands and/or laughed at this comment.

Senate debates legislation for lawful possession of a firearm in a parked vehicle

The Alabama Senate is currently debating SB407 pertaining to the lawful possession of a firearm in a parked motor vehicle. Senator Rodger Bedford is the sponsor of this bill and believes it is important for citizens to have this right. Bedford made reference to a person driving home on a deserted road and getting a flat tire. Senator Trip Pittman also noted that some workers enjoy hunting before and after work.

PACT Program resolution sent to the rules committee

The Alabama Senate discussed SJR135 sponsored by Senator Del Marsh pertaining to the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (PACT) program. This resolution would set up a committee that would study the problem with the PACT program and require that they report their findings on the fifth legislative day of the 2010 session.

Senator Rodger Bedford spoke on the bill nothing that this is not a problem that the Legislature or the Governor made, its something that State Treasurer Kay Ivey ran into the ground. Bedford said that he doesn’t believe we should pay hired help to address this issue.

Senator Holly spoke to the resolution and said that this resolution does not addresses the actuary as not being as bad as it actually is in reality. Holly believes that this resolution does not solve the issues with the PACT program; it simply looks at its issues. Holly noted that he is not interested in studying the issue; he is interested in solving the issue. Holly said Governor Riley’s purpose in visiting the senate today was to come over and discuss with members of the body and the Lt. Governor the issues with the pact program. Holly asked that the resolution be sent to the Rules committee.

Governor Riley wants more accomplished before the final day of the legislative session

Governor Bob Riley spoke with the media this morning at 11:30. Riley noted that he has four or five projects that he is interested in seeing passed this legislative session. The PACT program is one of those programs that the Governor believes the senate needs to act on now. Governor Riley said that he is not satisfied with the resolution that was passed pertaining to the PACT program earlier in the legislation session.

Governor Riley is also concerned about the General Fund Budget and the nine million dollars that was taken from the corrections department and put into pork barrel projects. Pork barrel projects are appropriations of government spending for localized projects that bring money to a representative's district. Riley noted that with the restraints we have on our economy there is no reason to take away this money from corrections for these types of projects. Governor Riley further stated that each year he tells the legislature he wants to end pass through pork and it has not happened yet.

Speaking on ethics legislation, Governor Riley said we are so close to having this legislation passed. Riley has been pushing for this legislation for the past five years. He believes the people of Alabama want this type of honesty and clarity in Government to pass.

Governor Riley continues to visit the Alabama Senate, tensions continues to rise

Governor Riley continues to visit the senate speaking with a number of members. Riley spent at least twenty minutes huddled with Lt. Governor Jim Folsom and Senator Trip Pittman. Currently Governor Riley is speaking with Senator Lowell Barron; by their facial reactions and hand movements their conversation must be interesting.

Senator Scott Beason asked for Senator Hank Sanders’ resolution, SJR26 to be read at length, and then Senator Larry Dixon began to stall and question Sander’s resolution pertaining to the Amistad Commission.

Tensions continue to rise, members on both sides seem to be on edge.

House Criticizes Senate Version of General Fund Budget

Chair of the Government Appropriations Committee in the House, Rep. John Knight, spoke this morning in reference to the version of the General Fund Budget that was passed late last night by the Senate.

Because of the number of changes that were made to the version the House passed, Rep. Knight proposed that the budget go to a conference committee. He elaborated that they had worked very hard to present a reasonable budget for the people of Alabama and that the Senate’s version is “totally unacceptable.”

Apparently, the Senate version of the budget includes a number of line-items allotting dollars to specific cities and entities – more familiarly referred to as “pork”.

Representative Mac Gipson ( R ) of Autauga County commented that the budget looks like a “senate re-election” budget.

Along the same tenor as Rep. Gipson, Rep. Jay Love ( R ) of Montgomery further stated that he was “afraid swine flu has made its way into the Alabama Legislature after looking at this budget.”

Both commended Representative Knight for his diligent work toward passing a responsible budget for the state.

The House voted in favor of Rep. Knight’s motion to take the General Fund Budget to conference committee with members of the Senate.

Governor Riley visits the Alabama Senate

Governor Riley is currently visiting the Alabama Senate.

Pictured, Govenor Bob Riley, Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Senator Trip Pittman

House Debates Joint Resolution Calling for Constitutional Convention

This morning, the House briefly debated HJR 91 that would call for a constitutional convention in Alabama.

With disagreement in the House over the matter and a full calendar ahead to consider for this legislative day, the House tabled the resolution so as to move forward with the business of the House today.

Senate heats up early, Governor Riley visits Senate

The Alabama Senate convened this morning at 10:00 pm just twelve hours after adjourning late last night. After passing a resolution by Senator Linda Coleman, Senator Rodger Bedford brought up SB56 pertaining to water and sewer services. Senator Larry Dixon questioned Bedford to insure that Montgomery County was exempt. Following Dixon, Senator Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills questioned Bedford about the city of Birmingham.

Things began to heat up when Senator Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham took the mic and addressed Senator Waggoner stating that he was over stepping his grounds by asking questions about the city of Birmingham. Smitherman and Waggoner share representation of Jefferson County with Steve French, Linda Coleman, Scott Beason, Hank Erwin, and Charles Bishop.

Governor Riley is visiting the Alabama Senate, there is word that he is here to discuss the general fund budget.

Listen to the ALABAMA Senate LIVE!

House Passes Two Education-Related Bills in the Evening

A bill we followed in committee last week received the go-ahead vote in the House early into the evening hours. By a 99 – 0 vote, HB 810 passed the House.

This bill makes it a criminal offense for a school official to engage in sexual activity with a student.

Per our coverage of the committee meeting last week, the version which came out of committee included language that defined an age limit for a student being under the age of 19.

This was added to the bill in order to prevent students working on college campuses from being prosecuted for having relationships with fellow students under this legislation.

The second bill which passed the House is SB 334. It raises the school drop-out age from 16 years of age to 18.

Because the House passed the Senate’s version of this bill, it now moves to the Governor’s Office for final approval.