2018 Legislative Session Recap, March 12th – March 16th

2018 Legislative Session Recap, March 12th – March 16th

The Alabama House on Tuesday approved a $2 billion state agency budget for 2019, which is roughly $167 million more than the current year’s spending plan.

• Under the plan, which has already received Senate approval, the Alabama Department of Corrections would receive a $56 million increase, which raises its appropriation to $472 million, along with a $30 million supplemental allocation.

• Other agencies seeing budget increases include the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which received an additional $3.2 million to hire state troopers, and the Alabama Department of Mental Health, which was awarded an additional $9 million.

• The budget includes a 3% cost-of-living pay raise for state employees, which is their first in a decade, and a one-time, non-recurring bonus for retired state workers.

• Once enacted, the pay raise will provide an average state worker who earns a median salary of roughly $41,000 with a pay raise of more than $1,200.

• The state retiree bonus is calculated using a sliding scale formula of $12 multiplied by years of service. A retiree with 25 years of service, for example, would receive a one-time bonus of $300 ($12 x 25 years = $300).

• Using that formula, retirees would receive these amounts: 10 yrs = $120 15 yrs = $180 20 yrs = $240 25 yrs = $300 30 yrs = $360

• The Legislature is unable to offer a cost-of-living-adjustment because such recurring increases raise the unfunded liabilities of the state pension system and put is fiscal stability at risk. For those reasons, Dr. David Bronner and the Retirement Systems of Alabama have requested a moratorium on retiree COLAs for the foreseeable future.

• A $93 million carryover from the FY2018 budget year, higher-than-expected revenues from online purchases, and a one-time $105 million Medicaid allocation from BP oil spill settlement funds helped balance the state agency spending plan.

• The $2 billion budget is the largest since the Great Recession of 2008.

 

The Alabama House on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by State Rep. Jack Williams (R – Vestavia) that seeks to combat human trafficking throughout Alabama.

• According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 68 cases of human trafficking were formally reported in Alabama in 2017, and the vast majority (49) were related to sex trafficking which was followed by labor trafficking (11).

• The legislation closes a loophole in current law that requires proof that a minor, defined as someone under the age of 18, was coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts in order for it to be established as a trafficking offense.

• The bill would make sure human trafficking laws include those pulled into prostitution by psychological or emotional coercion.

• Stronger penalties for those who engage in the trafficking or prostitution of a minor are also included in the measure.

• Those who engage in sex acts with prostitutes who are minors would also be prohibited from using a “mistake of age defense” if prosecuted for their actions.

• Victims of human trafficking could have records of some crimes expunged if certain conditions are met.

• The bill now travels to the State Senate for consideration.

 

The House on Tuesday also passed a bill sponsored by House Education Policy Chair Terri Collins (R – Decatur) that permanently reauthorizes the Alabama Task Force on School Safety and Security.

• The panel was originally formed in 2016 regular session as part of the House Republican Caucus “Right for Alabama” legislative agenda and released a report of its findings in March of 2017.

• As a result of work of the task force members’ work, Rep. Alan Baker (R – Brewton) passed laws that, among other things, required public schools to hold annual active shooter lock down drills and created an statewide instant notification system that immediately notifies officials in Montgomery of emergency situations as they occur.

• The membership of the task force includes a cross section of elected officials, educators, law enforcement personnel, mental health workers, and others.

• Task force members will be required to annually review and assess state laws, rules, protocols, and standards relating to school security.

• Once a review has been completed and any existing security gaps are identified, the task force will report its findings to the governor and the Legislature by December 31 of each year.

• The task force must hold its first meeting no later than August 1, 2018.

• The bill now travels to the State Senate for consideration.

 

The Alabama House on Thursday approved a bill by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Hill (R – Moody) that allows the Department of Corrections to implement a pilot program to provide bonuses to assist in correctional officer retention.

• The bonuses may take the form of either financial incentives or educational incentives and would be paid out of the department’s annual appropriation.

• DOC is currently engaged in a long-running federal lawsuit regarding prison conditions, inmate health care, mental health services, chronic understaffing, and other issues.

• Much of the difficulty in recruiting and retaining correctional officers, especially during times of low unemployment, can be credited to the salaries paid for such positions.

• The starting salary for a correctional officer is $29,954. Starting pay is 5% higher with an associate’s degree and 10% higher with a bachelor’s degree.

• An officer starting at the minimum salary is eligible for a step increase to $30,724 after the first year and up to $33,086 at five years.

• Another contributing factor is that violent incidents in prisons have roughly doubled over the past five years as the number of corrections officers has dropped by 20%.

 

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2018-03-16T18:06:01+00:00 Agenda|0 Comments