“We’ve been working like dogs,” Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga, said. “This has been the busiest week since I’ve been in office.”
The bill most likely to affect Talladega County to pass went through the Senate on Thursday — an appropriations bill to push $650,000 in funding to Talladega College. Tuskegee University and Lyman Ward Military Academy also will receive appropriations through this bill.
Thursday’s session also resulted in the passing of a bill intended to reform Medicare by dividing the state into eight regions and making each region responsible for covering the costs incurred by its users.
“I really believe this is a step in the right direction,” Fielding said.
Tuesday proved to be the most daunting day of the week. The Senate burned the midnight oil, cranking out five bills before adjourning at 2 a.m. Wednesday.
The Senate passed a bill to build a lodge and convention center in Gulf Shores using money promised by BP to replace a convention center that was damaged by storms.
Two bills affecting public assistance users also passed Tuesday.
One bill prohibits public assistance recipients from misusing funds by purchasing items such as alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets, and seeks to criminally punish both the recipient and the establishment allowing the misuse.
The other bill allows public assistance recipients to be drug tested if there’s reasonable evidence or history substantiating a drug use claim.
Fielding said in an instance where a recipient tested positive for drugs, benefits would not be stripped away for the sake of the child and would be diverted to a more reputable member of the family.
The Senate failed to pass the “Tim Tebow” bill allowing home-schooled students to be eligible for high school athletics.
Fielding cited an inability to come to terms on a way to measure a child’s grade level through testing to prove eligibility.
In all, the Senate passed 20 bills this week and brought several bills up from the committee stages, including a bill increasing punishment for possession of obscene materials depicting bestiality and a bill making it illegal for children under the age of 19 to possess electronic cigarettes.
The confirmations committee appointed 20 people to various boards within the state, including eight people named to the Alabama Family Trust Board, two named to the State Course of Study Board and one person named to the Ethics Commission.
Fielding noted the most pressing need for the upcoming week is to come to an agreement on an Education Trust Fund budget. He said the $6.7 billion item would be discussed Tuesday.
Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston; Rep. Steve Hurst, D-Munford; and Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga, could be not reached for comment Friday.
Contact Shane Dunaway at firstname.lastname@example.org.