Prison changes, lottery bills postponed as session cut short

MGN Online

Alabama lawmakers began the 2020 legislative session with several big-ticket items before them, including a prison overhaul, a possible state lottery and medical marijuana legislation.

Posted: May 10, 2020 8:28 PM

ALABAMA (AP)- Alabama lawmakers began the 2020 legislative session with several big-ticket items before them, including a prison overhaul, a possible state lottery and medical marijuana legislation.

Those issues fell by the wayside as the coronavirus outbreak interrupted the legislative session.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said it is “very possible” that the governor will call them into special session at some point to deal with prisons or other issues. The U.S. Department of Justice last year said that male inmates live in violent prisons that violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Justice Department threatened to sue Alabama unless conditions improve.

“When you look at all the important issues that we talked about, legislation that we have not addressed. And then you put in there all of the issues that we are going to be concerned with when it comes to corrections — that’s a lot of work to be done.”

Lawmakers used their abbreviated meeting time to focus on state budgets and passing a $1.25 billion bond issue to fund school construction.

Here is a look at what passed and failed in the 2020 regular legislative session:

WHAT PASSED:

SCHOOL BOND ISSUE

Lawmakers approved a $1.25 billion bond issue to fund capital projects at public K-12 schools, two-year colleges and universities. Every K-12 school system will be given at least $400,000. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey proposed the bond issue in her State of the State address earlier this year.

STATE BUDGETS

Lawmakers approved pared-down Education Trust Fund and General Fund budgets. Both budgets have spending increases, but lawmakers trimmed back planned increases — including pay raises for teachers and state employees — because of the expected hit to state revenue during the virus outbreak.

OCCUPATIONAL TAX BAN

Alabama lawmakers swiftly approved a ban on cities implementing new occupational taxes without legislative approval. Lawmakers rushed passage of the bill as the city of Montgomery considered an occupational tax.

WHAT FAILED

PRISON POLICY CHANGES

Lawmakers approved a funding increase for the Alabama Department of Corrections, but plans for a package of reform bills, including enhanced educational programs for inmates and making changes to mandatory sentencing laws, did not get votes.

PAY RAISES

Alabama lawmakers and the governor had hoped to give pay raises to public school employees and state employees. The raises were jettisoned as lawmakers scaled back spending because of the expected cuts to state revenue during the virus outbreak.

GAMBLING

Proposals to establish a state lottery and to allow the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to have casinos did not get floor votes. Even before the pandemic interrupted the session, the Republican Ivey attempted to press the pause button on gambling debate by creating a new work group to study gambling proposals and revenue projections.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

The Alabama Senate approved the bill that would have authorized the use of medical marijuana for certain conditions, but it did not get a vote in the House of Representatives. Proponents were optimistic about the bill’s chances this year even though it has faced past opposition in the House.

PANDEMIC POWERS

A bill would have limited the powers of the state health officer to order closures. It would require the governor to sign off on the state health officer’s orders during a virus outbreak. The bill would have required legislative approval to extend any state of emergency issued by the governor beyond 14 days. Supporters said it put “checks and balances” in the process but opponents said it put politics over science in managing a public health emergency.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 98190

Reported Deaths: 2969
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7189161
DeSoto569464
Harrison394175
Jackson358570
Rankin337280
Madison334190
Lee293572
Forrest254275
Jones252780
Washington227879
Lafayette221240
Lauderdale2078126
Bolivar187370
Oktibbeha181952
Lamar176237
Lowndes160858
Neshoba1599104
Panola151631
Sunflower149146
Leflore143882
Warren141850
Pontotoc130116
Monroe125369
Pike124954
Copiah119933
Scott118027
Coahoma117530
Lincoln112353
Marshall111821
Grenada110136
Holmes110060
Yazoo106733
Simpson105847
Tate101938
Union101224
Leake96538
Adams94937
Wayne91521
Pearl River91453
Prentiss88418
Marion87537
Itawamba85921
Alcorn83411
Covington83223
George78513
Tallahatchie78324
Newton78124
Winston74619
Tishomingo71039
Tippah70518
Chickasaw69524
Attala67225
Clarke61149
Walthall60426
Clay59919
Hancock59822
Jasper58415
Noxubee55816
Smith55115
Calhoun52912
Tunica50015
Montgomery47020
Claiborne46516
Yalobusha44414
Lawrence43914
Perry43221
Quitman3905
Greene38917
Stone38013
Humphreys37715
Jefferson Davis34711
Amite34210
Webster33913
Carroll33112
Wilkinson30818
Kemper29115
Sharkey26714
Jefferson2439
Benton2333
Franklin1993
Choctaw1876
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
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