Any more money for the Department of Corrections will come with specific instructions on its use.
Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund chair Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said Thursday that lawmakers were working on additional funding for the hard-pressed department, which for years has dealt with overcrowding and a lack of staffing.
A budget approved by the House Ways and Means General Fund committee last week would effectively level fund the department. However, both Orr and House Ways and Means General Fund chair Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, have said they want increased funding for Corrections, though the size and the scope is not yet known.
Orr said the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka — facing a federal investigation — would be one of the needs targeted. DOC also has requested security upgrades for maximum security prisons, which Orr said could be included.
The additional money, Orr said, would specifically be targeted at those needs, and not be reflected in a general increase.
The House is expect to take up the General Fund budget this week.
Party like it’s 1832
You may remember the word “nullification” from such American History textbook chapters as “Tariff of Abominations” and “John C. Calhoun.” Lawmakers, who have flirted with the idea in the past, went to it again last week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill Wednesday from Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga, that, according to the bill summary, would declare “certain provisions” of the Affordable Care Act “null and void.”
“The Legislature has the absolute and sovereign authority to interpose and refuse to enforce the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 that exceed the authority of Congress,” the bill says.
It sounds like nullification, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional back in 1958. But Fielding, a retired judge, said that isn’t the case. The legislation, he said, was aimed at giving Attorney General Luther Strange “options” to challenge the Affordable Care Act.
“I feel like there’s an opportunity to bring it to the Supreme Court,” Fielding said Thursday. “That can only be done after the fact. You can’t do it up front. I feel like there’s a strong possibility to be effective on any aspect of Affordable Care Act.”
Fielding, who was elected as a Democrat but switched parties in 2012 following redistricting, faces a tough primary challenge from Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville.
“I sincerely believe that if we can get this bill in front of U.S. Supreme Court, we can get that 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court changed to 5-4 against, because of what’s happened (with the law) over the last three years,” he said.
Alabama Arise has voiced concerns about the legislation, saying if the Legislature ever tried to move to enforce it, it could create chaos with technical compliance with ACA that has taken place since the law was passed in 2010. Fielding said he has spoken with Arise about their concerns and plans to introduce amendments to that effect.
Rep. Duwayne Bridges, R-Valley, sponsored a bill that would allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in public buildings, including schools. The bill, which passed 77-19 Thursday after nearly two hours of “religious” discussion, will go to the people for a ballot vote if passed by the Senate.
Below are some of the statements made by legislators during discussion of this bill.
- Bridges: “There was a gentleman from Selma who served in here. He came to this very mic and he stood up and he said, ‘I’m a Muslim, I’m a representative in Alabama and I believe the Ten Commandments should be posted everywhere.’” Rep. James Buskey, D-Mobile: “You’re not embracing Muslimism, are you?”
- Bridges said the bill isn’t forcing anyone to worship Christianity, or anything they don’t believe in. He said they could worship a cow if they wanted to.
- Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery: “Who wrote the 10th Amendment? The Ten Commandments.” Bridges: “Moses. God wrote it and Moses was there. God wrote the Ten Commandments.”
- Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa: “In your estimation, there is a way to view the Ten Commandments outside of a religious context?” Bridges: “There probably is. I’m not going there. I don’t know that it can be done.”
- Rep. Allen Farley, R-McCalla: “We have laws, we have legislative laws … We have children dying on drugs … we continue to legislate on everybody’s laws.”
- Holmes said bombers prayed before bombing 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Bridges: “Not to my God.”
- Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville: “The only perfect laws that have ever been written are the Ten Commandments.”
- Rep. George Bandy, D-Opelika: “As a Christian, why are you promoting Judaism? God gave the laws to Moses to present to the Jews.”
- Holmes said there was only one person in the chamber who has abided by all the Ten Commandments. “You’re looking at him,” he said.