For the Alabama Legislature, the 2014 regular session was meant to be a quiet, low-key affair with some quick victories for the Republican-controlled chambers and then a speedy exit home to prepare for November elections.
The session was quick, with lawmakers leaving before the governor could sign the education budget, leaving open the possibility of a special session. But there was still drama, between abortion bills, an extended Ten Commandments debate, gun control and one lawmaker labeling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom.”
It even ended with a bang, in the form of Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, resigning and pleading guilty to giving confidential state documents to a company he worked for as a consultant. Wren is said to be “cooperating with authorities, ” a phrase that no doubt sends chills through Goat Hill.
As detailed by al.com, these were among the bills that passed, though not all were signed:
- Tax tribunal. HB 105. Creates the Alabama Tax Tribunal to hear taxpayer appeals.
- Sales taxes. HB 151. Requires fewer businesses to pay estimated monthly sales taxes in advance instead of paying actual revenues collected.
- Lobbyists. SB 36. Prohibits former legislators from lobbying either chamber of the Legislature within two years after leaving office.
- Welfare. SB 63. Requires applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to be drug-tested if they have had a drug conviction in the last five years.
- Welfare. SB 115. Requires applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to apply for three jobs before becoming eligible.
These bills, meanwhile, failed to pass muster.
- Pistols. SB 354. Would allow persons to carry a loaded pistol in a vehicle without a concealed carry permit from their county sheriff.
- Abortion. HB 490. Would prohibit abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks.
- Common Core. SB 443. Would allow local school boards to opt out of using Common Core academic standards.
- Open Meetings Act. SB 191. Would address weaknesses in the law shown in court rulings.
- Payday loans. HB 145. Would authorize the State Banking Department to set up a central database of payday loans to enforce a $500 debt limit per borrower.
Text by Dave Helms