After a long, and sometimes contentious week, the Alabama Legislature had completed 18 legislative days of their 30-day session, as of last Friday. Below is a brief report from last week's proceedings.

Emergency powers

The Senate passed a controversial bill on Thursday that would limit executive branch power during a state of emergency. Current law allows a state of emergency declared by the governor or Legislature to last up to 60 days and to be extended by the governor or a joint resolution of the Legislature. SB 97 would limit a state of emergency to 45 days and provide that only the Legislature could extend a state of emergency after 120 days. The proposed legislation also directs the governor to consult with the Legislature in good faith prior to issuing emergency health orders and would require the governor to approve any emergency health orders issued by the state health officer. SB 97 now moves to the House for consideration.

'Essential' businesses

The Senate also approved a House-passed bill to ensure businesses and churches can remain open during a state of emergency, provided they follow emergency orders. HB 103 would limit the emergency power of the executive branch to close businesses and churches and is intended to make sure small businesses have the same opportunity as others to remain open and operate responsibly by eliminating the designation of "essential" and "non-essential" businesses. The bill now heads to Governor Ivey's desk.

Habitual offenders

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would effectively repeal the Habitual Felony Offender Act ("HFOA"), which requires more severe penalties for people convicted of multiple felonies. HB 107, approved by a vote of 8-5 after contentious debate, would allow for potential re-sentencing of some current inmates and result in the inapplicability of the HFOA to future cases. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

Medical marijuana

Consideration of Sen. Tim Melson's medical cannabis bill was postponed by the House Judiciary Committee for a second time and is now expected to be taken up Wednesday. A vote on SB 46 was tabled until this week after several amendments were offered, providing more time to work on the bill. The bill was passed by the Senate in February and (in an unusual move) will be referred to the House Health Committee for further consideration if the Judiciary Committee gives the bill a favorable report.

This report is courtesy of the Economic Development Association of Alabama.

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