The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


March 30, 2014

Legislature has work to do but time is short

— Three more days.

That’s how much time is left in this year’s legislative session.

To some, it’s appropriate the lawmakers return Tuesday — April Fool’s Day.

However, the pending legislation is no laughing matter.

Of particular interest is the $5.9 billion education budget.

In his State of the State address, Gov. Robert Bentley pushed for a 2 percent pay raise for educators and an increase in funding for the Public Education Employees Health Insurance Program — the teachers’ health insurance program.

He even said he would veto any budget that did not include the raise.

A little more than a week ago, the Republican Senate passed a budget with no pay raise and no funding increase for PEEHIP.

Later, an agreement was reached between the governor, the House and Senate for an increase in PEEHIP funding but not a pay raise.

Also on the agenda is an abortion bill already passed by the House that would extend the waiting time for an abortion from 24 hours to 48 hours after an abortion clinic provides information about adoption and the risks of abortion. A House-passed bill to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected is awaiting action in the Senate Health Committee.

Other bills include: allowing motorists to have loaded handguns in their cars without a permit; setting up a database of payday loans to enforce a state law prohibiting people from having more than $500 in payday loans out at one time; allowing people trying to start small businesses in Alabama to use “crowd funding.”

The House also voted to designate cornbread as the official state bread. It now awaits Senate approval.

And that’s no April Fool.

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