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.

Cases: 313942

Reported Deaths: 7240
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21580258
Hinds20330415
Harrison17879309
Rankin13594278
Jackson13429246
Madison10088217
Lee9970174
Jones8370163
Forrest7670152
Lauderdale7188241
Lowndes6387146
Lamar622486
Lafayette6184118
Washington5332133
Bolivar4801132
Oktibbeha462198
Panola4582106
Pearl River4506146
Marshall4435103
Warren4386121
Pontotoc420172
Monroe4107133
Union410076
Neshoba4030176
Lincoln3962110
Hancock378486
Leflore3493125
Sunflower335990
Tate333384
Pike3316105
Scott315773
Alcorn312768
Yazoo311469
Itawamba299777
Copiah296865
Coahoma295179
Simpson294988
Tippah288168
Prentiss279760
Adams278782
Marion269080
Leake267473
Wayne262641
Grenada261386
Covington258281
George247848
Newton246261
Winston227081
Tishomingo226667
Jasper221048
Attala214273
Chickasaw207757
Holmes188873
Clay185254
Stone182433
Tallahatchie178541
Clarke177980
Calhoun170532
Yalobusha164238
Smith162334
Walthall133945
Greene130533
Lawrence128524
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123042
Carroll121828
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107033
Tunica105226
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96533
Kemper95728
Franklin83623
Quitman80716
Choctaw76318
Wilkinson67230
Jefferson65528
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 531404

Reported Deaths: 10985
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson765501522
Mobile41036805
Madison34789503
Tuscaloosa25788453
Montgomery24340589
Shelby23449249
Baldwin21154308
Lee15882171
Calhoun14511314
Morgan14306279
Etowah13843353
Marshall12232223
Houston10570281
Elmore10068205
Limestone9974151
Cullman9676194
St. Clair9661243
Lauderdale9427241
DeKalb8831186
Talladega8227176
Walker7241277
Autauga6926108
Jackson6814112
Blount6678137
Colbert6306134
Coffee5519119
Dale4838111
Russell441538
Chilton4296112
Franklin426082
Covington4129118
Tallapoosa4023152
Escambia393677
Chambers3573123
Dallas3551152
Clarke351161
Marion3122101
Pike310977
Lawrence300398
Winston274473
Bibb260964
Geneva250477
Marengo249564
Pickens234461
Barbour231057
Hale223077
Butler216069
Fayette212562
Henry188844
Cherokee185245
Randolph180542
Monroe177540
Washington167339
Macon159650
Clay156756
Crenshaw152557
Cleburne148941
Lamar142535
Lowndes138853
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110529
Perry107726
Coosa107628
Sumter104732
Greene92534
Choctaw60724
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