MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama lawmakers ended the 2018 legislative session on Thursday. Here’s a look at some of the proposals that passed and failed this year.
WHAT WAS APPROVED:
Alabama lawmakers approved an additional $85 million for the state prison system over the next two years as the state faces a federal court order to improve mental health care for inmates. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled last year that mental health care in Alabama’s prisons was “horrendously inadequate.”
PAY RAISES AND BONUSES
Teachers and education employees will get a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. State employees will get a 3 percent cost-of-living raise. Lawmakers also voted to give state and education retirees a one-time bonus equal to $1 for every month of service.
The bill authorizes execution by nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection drugs are unavailable or are ruled unconstitutional. The Death Penalty Information Center says no state has used nitrogen gas in an execution. Two other states, Oklahoma and Mississippi, have voted to authorize the use of the gas as a backup method.
DAY CARE REGULATIONS
The measure will require about 400 faith-based day cares that receive any state or federal funds to get licensed by the state. About half of the day care centers in the state are unlicensed because they claim a religious exemption.
The income tax cut for low-income earners will save impacted households an average of $21.95 each year. The Legislative Fiscal Office estimated the tax cut is collectively worth $4 million. The office of Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, who sponsored the bill, estimated it would impact 182,266 tax returns.
The bill exempts economic developers from the state ethics law. The state’s top job recruiter sought the change, saying professional site developers will not work in Alabama if they must register as lobbyists. Opposed senators said they are concerned it could open up a wide loophole in the state ethics law.
WHAT BILLS FAILED:
The bill would have allowed designated teachers, after undergoing training, to carry firearms in schools.
ASSAULT RIFLE AGE/ GUN CONTROL
The bill would have raised the age limit to buy an AR-15, and other semi-automatic long guns, from 18 to 21. Other gun control proposals also died.
The bill would have made possession of an ounce or less of marijuana punishable by a fine instead of jail time. An offense would have been classified as a violation, a step below a misdemeanor, and carry a fine of up to $250. A Senate committee approved the bill, but it did not get a vote in the Senate.
The bill would have done away with the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE
The bill would have tracked how often law enforcement authorities use civil actions to seize a person’s property when criminal activity is suspected. An earlier version of the bill also failed that would have required a criminal conviction to seize property.
The bill would have required law enforcement officers to collect data on race and traffic stops. The bill cleared the Alabama Senate on a 27-0 vote but did not get a vote in the Alabama House of Representatives amid Republican opposition.
The bill would have lowered the number of weeks a person can receive jobless benefits.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the legislative session ended Thursday.