Legislative Benchmarks

Here are some of the changes from the 2012 Legislature:

Lawmakers passed an education budget that cuts funding at all levels, but should retain teachers and keep class sizes as they are. The budget shifts school bus purchases to a bond-issue basis and moves AllKids health care to the general fund budget.

Legislators overrode a veto by Gov. Robert Bentley to shorten the school year in the hopes of boosting Alabama tourism. Critics said the measure will not help tourism and will hurt schools, since Alabama already is at the low end of the number of school days per year.

Want to help your court system? Get arrested. There’s a new fee of $35 for posting bond, with the proceeds earmarked for covering court costs, since the Legislature lopped huge amounts from the general fund budget.

In a trade-off, lawmakers saved Medicaid by trimming prison allocations, but the deal hinges on voters approving an on-going transfer from the Education Trust Fund.

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Texting while driving is banned. Fine for first offense set at $25. Public safety officials say that texting caused more than 1, 000 accidents and five deaths in 2010.

Save those pennies. A new law cuts retirement benefits for new state employees; they’ll take home more now but have to save more for their own retirement—and they’ll have to work longer to collect it.

Just twelve hours after completing the regular session May 16, lawmakers were back in place to map out changes in congressional districts.

By Nedra Bloom

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