Report from the state House

The following information is condensed from reports and information provided over the last two weeks to the The Blount Countian from the two state representatives accounting for more than 90 percent of Blount County voters.

House District 11, Rep. Randall Shedd

The Alabama House pushed through a jobs package designed to make Alabama more competitive in recruiting businesses and jobs to the state. A component of the package – and a priority of the House Rural Caucus – gives extra incentives to companies employing at least 25 workers who locate in rural areas. Three of the four counties in District 11 that were left out of the original bill – Blount, Cullman, and Marshall – were included in the final version of the bill.

• After hours of filibustering by Democrats, the House passed a bill designed to protect ministers and probate judges who refuse to marry same-sex couples from being forced to do so against their will.

• A bill to “bring back” the electric chair cleared the House. The state has experienced problems with lethal injection as a means of capital punishment in recent years. The bill allows use of the electric chair when lethal injection is not possible. Alabama now has 197 inmates on death row awaiting execution.

• Two bills were passed ratifying results of municipal option elections sanctioning alcohol sales. Those elections were held under a law subsequently ruled unconstitutional. The rationale for supporting bills ratifying sales was to uphold the right to vote and to limit alcohol sales to towns where people have voted for it, rather than risk countywide elections that would legalize sales throughout the affected counties. Towns can regulate liquor sales through zoning and restrictive ordinances, whereas counties cannot. Rep. Stand-ridge’s amendment ratified the elections in towns that voted to remain dry, as well as those that voted to go wet.

• The week of March 16, Shedd’s bill to authorize customized motorcycle tags identifying disabled veterans was scheduled to come to the floor of the House. More information on the status of the bill when it becomes available.

• Charter school legislation was scheduled for later in the week of March 16. (It has since passed.) Shedd said he would vote against the bill for a number of reasons, chief of which was to fulfill a campaign promise.

• Shedd’s wife Debbie has become a certified volunteer at Veterans Hospital and Baptist Hospital in Montgomery to help care for newborns and veterans and to occupy her time helping others while her husband is in legislative session.

House district 34, Rep. David Standridge

• Rep. Standridge’s legislation giving mandatory jail time to repeat-offending church vandals passed the House on March 17, and moved to the Senate the following week. The bill provides for a jail term of 10 days for a second offense and 20 days for a third offense. It also provides that restitution to vandalized churches be paid before court fees and fines, an important provision for all affected churches, but particularly for smaller ones.

• His legislation providing for veterans and elderly citizens to move to the front of voting lines is in Senate committee and may be reported out in the coming days. More information when it becomes available. (Ed. This bill passed the House yesterday, Tuesday, March 31, without opposition. A related measure requiring poll workers to post a sign notifying the elderly and disabled that they could move ahead in line also passed.)

• The bill to expand representation on the Birmingham Water Works Board to include other counties where the company has subscribers and owns property is still in negotiation between the parties in Senate committee. Parties include the bill’s sponsors, representatives of the City of Birmingham, and management of Birmingham Water Works, as well as lobbyists of both groups. The bill could be reported out to the Senate floor this week, Standridge said, depending on the results of ongoing negotiations.