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Only four, yes I said four, days remain in the 2019 Legislative Session. By law, the legislature meets for 30 legislative days, but leadership has decided to leave two-three days on the table this session; meaning next week, the legislature will work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and maybe Friday. Should the budgets and other must-pass bills be sent to the governor by then, there would be no reason to stick around longer. The legislature will likely be coming back in the fall for a special session to address prisons.

On another note we are really seeing some bills move:

Bills Signed Into Law:

  • HB41 (Stringer) Vaping Bill - Prohibits alternative nicotine product retailers and manufacturers from advertising alternative nicotine products around schools and churches. A senate judiciary committee amendment was adopted, which released restrictions on advertising to make the bill constitutional.
  • HB339 (Ledbetter) Pledge of Allegiance – requires that the pledge of allegiance to the United States flag be conducted at the beginning of each school day in the public K-12 schools of the state and the students can voluntarily recite the pledge. An amendment was added to say a student who refuses to recite the pledge may not be punished or penalized for that refusal.

Bills Sent to the Governor for her signature:

  • HB21 (Baker) PLOP Bill passed the Senate 30-0 on Thursday. Remember this is the Partial Lump Sum Option Plan, which provides a fifth option at retirement; allows a member to take up to 2 years of his or her benefit in a one-time partial lump sum distribution in exchange for a reduced lifetime monthly distribution. The bill has no cost to the state. If signed, which should be, will become available to all members who have a retirement date on or after October 1, 2019.
  • HB400 (Shedd) A bill to allow electric utility companies to offer high-speed internet to rural communities by way of their existing power networks cleared the Alabama Legislature Wednesday and now goes to the governor for her signature.

    Supporters say House Bill 400 will alleviate the cost of running new fiber lines to rural areas by allowing utilities like Alabama Power, the Tennessee Valley Authority and regional electric cooperatives to piggyback their existing networks with high-speed cable lines.

House Floor Action:

  • SB220 (Albritton) Alabama Lottery Bill – IS DEAD! A constitutional amendment that would have authorized a lottery in Alabama failed a procedural motion in the House of Representatives Tuesday.

    The legislation, failed to get the margins needed to come to a vote on the floor. 53 representatives voted for it and 36 members voted against. It was one less vote than needed to pass the motion. A constitutional amendment needs 63 votes in the House to pass. Rep. Clouse confirmed to the press Wednesday there was not 63 votes to pass the Lottery in the House.
  • SB14 (Melson) Bible Elective Course – passed as amended Thursday. The amended bill goes back to the Senate, which must concur with the changes to send the bill to the Governor’s desk.
  • SB153 (Melson) SSUT – passed as amended Thursday. Since it was amended in the House the Senate will need to concur with the changes.
  • HB423 (Warren) Mandatory Kindergarten – passed the House as substituted, 91-11 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate. The bill requires every child in Alabama who is age 5 on or before September 1 shall enroll in kindergarten. The exceptions are: A child who is under age 5 on September 1 may be admitted to public school kindergarten, with local school board approval, on a space available basis in the following circumstances: The child transfers from a public school kindergarten in another state, or the child turns 5 years old between September 1 and December 31, and the child satisfies local board of education criteria established for underage enrollment, that if adopted, shall include the successful completion of an assessment to determine developmental readiness for enrollment. Although not spelled out in the bill kindergarten can be public school, private school or homeschool.
  • HB385 (Robertson) School Safety Plan Terminology Updated – This bill is to update the current “School Safety Plan” law that was passed several years ago but does not change the law. This bill will simply clarify language and update the law with newer terminology to help better communicate the security status of a school during an unusual or emergency situation. HB385 will replace the term “School Safety Plan” with the term “Emergency Operations Plan.” Each school is already required to have a “School Safety Plan.” Replaces the current term “Code Red Drills” with “Lockdown” plan/drills. Also, will add requirements for all schools to begin to standardize and use the Security Threat Level Terms approved by the State Superintendent last summer (Memo on June 27, 2018). The terms were created by the Department of Education’s Safe School Task Force. Many schools have already received training referencing these terms and how to use them and many school districts are already using them as part of their Emergency Operation Plans.
  • HB566 (Kitchens) Food Surplus Donation – Allows schools to donate surplus, non-expired food to charitable organizations, to redistribute food to needy students.

Senate Floor Action:

  • SB411 (Reed) – Advertising School Bus – The bill would allow local boards of education to have advertising space on school buses. The advertising may not do any of the following:
  1. Interfere with the effectiveness of any required reflective materials or warning equipment.
  2. Be located above or on the windows of the school bus.
  3. Be located behind the front wheel to the front of the back wheel.
  4. Be located behind the back wheel to the end of the bus.

The bill now moves to the House where it is assigned to the Education Policy committee.

  • HB506 (Estes) – Emergency Certificate - Teaching certificates, length of time for which emergency certificate is valid is extended from one year to two years. The bill was substituted in the Senate, now the bill will go back to the House for concurrence.

Committee Action:

  • ETF Budget and Education Pay Raise came out of the House Ways & Means Education Committee
    Wednesday approving a $7.1 billion budget for education. The W&ME Committee budget will be considered by the full House of Representatives next Tuesday. The Senate will then need to concur with the House-approved changes to the bill or work out differences in a conference committee. That is all expected to happen next week!

View House Ways & Means Education Substitute Bill

View House Ways & Means Education Committee Amendment

  • SB90 (Scofield) Broadband Grant Program -  this bill will increase the maximum covered project cost under the grant program; additionally change the definition of an “unserved area,” update the minimum service threshold and broaden the permitted use of federal support, including loans and grants, in projects receiving grants under the legislation.
  • SB397 and SB398 (Marsh) Board Governance CA and Governor consent minority caucuses – both bills received a favorable report as amended from the House Education Policy Committee on Wednesday. SB 397 would replace the current elected State Board of Education with the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education, members of which will be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate. Also, abolish the state superintendent position and replace it with a secretary of elementary and secondary education, appointed by the commission and subject to confirmation by the Senate.
  • SB255 (Melson) SRO Qualifications -  This bill would provide that if a local board of education hires a retired law enforcement officer to serve as school security personnel, the board may authorize the retired law enforcement officer to carry a firearm on duty if he or she meets the following requirements: (1) is retired in good standing from a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency with at least 25 years of law enforcement experience; (2) has successfully completed active shooter training approved by the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency; (3) annually completes and passes the firearm requalification required of law enforcement officers by the Alabama Peace Officers' Standards and Training Commission; and (4) is trained in the appropriate use of a non-lethal weapon and while on duty carries that weapon. An amendment was added that a person, including a retired law enforcement officer, may not carry a firearm in his or her capacity as school security personnel or a school resource officer unless he or she is APOST certified. Upon certification, he or she shall have the power of arrest.
  • HB209 (Pettus) SRO Qualifications – The bill received a favorable report from Senate Education Policy Committee Wednesday.
  • HB388 (Collins) - Alabama Literacy Act – The bill received a favorable report from Senate Education Policy Committee Wednesday. The bill implements steps to improve the reading proficiency of public school kindergarten to third grade students and ensure that those students are able to read at or above grade level by the end of third grade by monitoring the progression of each students from one grade to another, in part, by his or her proficiency in reading.
  • HB32 (Boyd) Kyle Graddy Act – The bill received a favorable report from Senate Education Policy Committee Wednesday.
  • HB462 (Easterbrook) Public High School Career Tech Facilities – The bill received a favorable report. Authorizes local boards of education to use any available facilities board determines better suited than existing facilities, notwithstanding State Building Code or other building codes.

Next Week:

Tuesday, May 28 has a lot going on, CLAS knows the following:

  • The last CLAS Hill Day will be held.
  • The House will have the ETF Budget, pay raise, and other education budget package bills on the first special-order calendar.
  • HB77 (Baker) Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act is on the Senate Finance & Taxation Education committee agenda at 2:30.

Next week will be very busy as all the bill sponsors and special interest groups gather at the state house to push their priority bills over the finish line. We will keep you up-to-date throughout the week. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call and ask.

Convene Report: The House will convene for the 25th legislative day on Tuesday, May 28 at 2:00 and the Senate at 3:30 the same day.