Alabama Senate was all business on Tuesday
April 8, 2016
Southern Torch (3204 articles)
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Alabama Senate was all business on Tuesday

Republicans override Bentley, pass several bills, including legislation to allow firearms in vehicles


By Joseph M. Morgan

joseph@southerntorch.com

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama Senate Republicans came out guns blazing on Tuesday, boldly overriding a recent veto from Gov. Bentley, then passing bill after bill in an impressive display of legislature in motion.

It was a long day, but the senate managed to execute an ambitious agenda of conservative legislative reforms aimed at strengthening individual rights, defending the rights of unborn children, preventing new taxes, and protecting and broadening Alabamians’ Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“It was a good day for the senate,” Alabama Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said. “We were able to pass a General Fund budget that did not raise taxes or raid the Education Trust Fund, and we were able to approve meaningful conservative reforms. I want to commend the members of the body for their diligent work and their commitment to a business-as-usual attitude that allowed us to pass a number of important bills.”

Protecting the Second Amendment

Senate Republicans also took a dramatic step to protect the Second Amendment rights of Alabamians with Senate Bill 14, sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa). Under this legislation, Alabamians would not need a gun license to carry firearms in their personal vehicles. Alabama Sen. Phil Williams said the extension of the Castle Doctrine through SB14 makes it easier for persons to protect themselves and their property.

“We are laser-focused on passing conservative legislation that will save taxpayers money and protect the constitutional liberties of Alabama’s citizens,” Alabama Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City) said. “There are a lot of political distractions in Alabama right now, but Senate Republicans remain committed to passing conservative reforms to move the state in a positive direction.”

Protecting the rights of the unborn

The Unborn Infants Dignity Act sponsored by Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) in the senate and Rep. April Weaver (R-Brierfield) Alabama House of Representatives prohibits the sale of unborn infant body parts. Hightower said the the legislation will prevent the harvest and sale of aborted fetus organs in Alabama—transactions like those uncovered in 2015 by The Center for Medical Progress in a series of secretly recorded videos that exposed top-level Planned Parenthood executives as they engaged in the practice of harvesting organs and selling them to the highest bidder.

General Fund Budget, prison reform

The senate also voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to override Gov. Robert Bentley’s recent veto of the Legislature’s initial General Fund budget. Just before last week’s legislative spring break, Bentley vetoed the budget, demanding an $85 million increase in Medicaid funding that would have significantly increased taxes.

Senate Republicans reversed the veto, approving a final budget that Marsh said avoids new taxes and asks most state agencies to make “small, manageable” cuts.

Budgets will increase for some Alabama departments, however, including an increase in funding that will finally allow the first steps to be taken down the long road of needed reforms to Alabama’s dangerously overcrowded, antiquated prison system. The Prison Transformation Initiative Act, sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) would provide significant upgrades to the Alabama corrections system and hopefully make Alabama prisons safer.

Pittman’s plan would replace over a dozen of the oldest prisons in Alabama with four newly-constructed, modern facilities. After completing a number of exhaustive cost-benefit and impact analysis studies, research projects that the construction of the new prisons would save taxpayers millions of dollars over the next decade, avoid federal intervention and make the state’s correctional facilities safer for inmates, officers and prison staff.

The proposed budget would also increase funding to better equip Alabama’s National Guard units throughout the state and improve the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Cracking down on predatory lending

The senate also passed Senate Bill 91 sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur to reform the payday loan industry by cracking down on predatory lending. SB 91 will require lenders to extend loan repayment periods to six months and begin accepting loan repayment via installments. Orr says the new timeframe is more reasonable and will help borrowers avoid defaulting on short-term loans and prevent unfair, costly late-fee penalties.

“The legislative package passed today by Alabama Senate Republicans comprise some of the most ambitious and impactful conservative proposals put forth this legislative session,” concluded Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills).

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