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MONTGOMERY, Alabama Taxpayers spent about .2 million forthe 2014 legislative session, and received 202 bills passed by both chambers,according to the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office.
By comparison, the Alabama Legislature sent 297 bills to thegovernor in the 2013 session.
That means each bill cost ,940 to process by the Legislature.Some of the bills have not yet been signed by Gov. Robert Bentley.
So what exactly did the taxpayers get for their money? Theygot big changes in legislative ethics, a ,000 tax credit for in-stateadoption, and an approval for the University of Alabama at Birmingham toresearch a marijuana-derivative to relieve seizures -- .
But as with any Alabama session, there were also the mundaneduties of the Legislature. They included laws to tweak county permissions.
--There were 62 bills that affect only particular counties orcities. The vast majority of those specific laws, 57, are aimed at counties.Cities have home rule and thus have little need to petition the AlabamaLegislature for changes to the law. But counties often have to go to Montgomeryto ask for legal permissions. For example, in HB 300, Autauga County's sheriff wonthe right to sell confiscated or unclaimed property at auction.
-- Four laws specifically address the needs of FaulknerUniversity, Athens State University, Tuskegee University, and the University ofSouth Alabama. In the case of Faulkner University, a private Christian college,state law was amended to allow the university to hire and employ police officers.South Alabama had its trustee terms decreased from 12 years to six. AthensState got the right to set tuition rates and distance-learning rates. AndTuskegee Institute received a .7 million appropriation for the fiscal year.
--The citizenry also got reform of legislative ethics rules.In SB 36 -- one of the top achievements of the Legislature, according to state Sen.Del Marsh, R-Anniston legislators are now barred from lobbying either chamber of the Legislature within two years after leaving office.
What the state of Alabama did not get was a 2 percent payraise for teachers. It also did not get a law to allow more public access togovernment meetings a bill to close loopholes in the Open Meetings Act. , mostly because of a rush to get other business done.
A bill to carry a loaded gun in a car, without a permit, also failed.
It's the failure of the 2 percent pay raise that may bringlawmakers back to Montgomery for a special session, and that would have coststo it.
The .2 million session cost is an estimate of the Alabama LegislativeFiscal Office. The cost of the session is usually based on what it costs tohave the lawmakers and staff come to the capital for the 30 legislative daysthey meet over up to 105 calendar days. The .2 million in costs aremostly associated with the legislators being in town -- incurring extra pay for the session and hiringtemporary help, such as proofreaders, to work on bills.
The 140 lawmakers and the lieutenant governor are paid about million a year. The average minimum pay and expenses for lawmakers are about ,000 per member, annually. (Pay varies because of mileage reimbursement, committee assignments and more.)
The speaker of the House of Representatives and the lieutenant governor, who presides over the state Senate, are paid about ,000 a year. Lawmakers will take a pay cut in November when the law changes, basing their pay on what an average Alabama household makes in a year.
The Legislature's own operating budget for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, is .3 million.
Alabama lawmakers often cite the session costs as one reasonnot to have a special session later in the year. A special session would benecessary if Bentley, a Republican, vetoes a budgetary bill, forcing thelawmakers to come back to meet their constitutional duties. Bentley supported a pay raise for teachers. The education budget, however, did not contain a raise. As of late Tuesday, Bentley has not signed the education budget.
The stateConstitution says the Legislature must meet for at least five days to pass abill, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office. So a special session would take at least five days. The office says five days would cost 0,000.
A special session can run up to 30calendar days, and that would likely cost 0,000 in total, according to the office.
Updated at 10:07 a.m. to add more detail about legislative pay and to correct name of Tuskegee University.
In deeply personal responses, dozens of former inmates, family members of current inmates and volunteers with prison ministries have given detailed accounts of how their experiences with the facility continue to affect their lives.
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