Legislative session comes to a close

Published 9:13 am Friday, March 30, 2018

Another session of the Alabama Legislature has come to an end as many of the lawmakers gear up for campaigns in the upcoming election cycle.

Rep. Alan Boothe (R-Pike) said it was an effective session both for local bills passing for Pike County and for other statewide bills.

“The biggest issue is the budget,” Boothe said. “This was not a bad year for the budget, for the first time in several years.”

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One big bill came through legislature for Pike County authorizing the Pike County Commission to hold a vote on Sunday alcohol sales, which they approved and will go into effect on Sunday, April 8.

Some major issues still remain though to be picked up in a future session, Boothe said.

“The governor is working on several things to propose (with the prison system),” Boothe said. “She’s trying to work with the federal government and is looking at several options. We’re looking to get that situation resolved; we’ve allocated more money to deal with mental health issues and striving with the choices we have to meet the mandates the federal courts would be likely to put down. I think we’ve done best we could.”

Another issue Boothe said he heard interest in from Pike Countians was a bill to allow hunting hogs and deer over bait.

“I feel that it’s poised to get passed in the next session,” Boothe said. “Some local landowners had expressed a desire for it and it passed in the House, but we were unable to pass it in the Senate.”

A bill that received a lot of attention in recent weeks that regarded arming teachers also failed to make it out during this session.

“There was not enough support in the House,” Boothe said. “There was very little discussion about it because it’s a bill that’s going to take a lot of work. I was contacted by several teachers that said they did not want to be armed. Superintendents were not in favor of a universal bill to arm all teachers. It’s an issue that local boards and superintendents need to deal with.”

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R – Monrovia) called the session one of the “most successful in recent years.”

“Because of conservative fiscal practices and a wise carryover of funds from the previous year, the General Fund budget, which is the largest since 2008, provides state employees with their first pay raise in a decade, begins to address critical needs in our prisons, and keeps the essential functions of government moving forward,” McCutcheon said. “Our $6.6 billion Education Trust Fund budget rewards educators with a generous but affordable pay raise, offers healthy increases at all levels of public education, and further expands Alabama’s nationally-recognized ‘First Class’ pre-kindergarten program …

“I am most proud that the partisan discord and floor fighting that has plagued the House over the past several years was largely absent as our members worked cooperatively in the best interests of Alabamians.”