HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-State lawmakers on spring break right now will have little time for a laundry list of bills that await their return next week, with the 2014 legislative regular session set to expire one week from Thursday.
Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) said taking care of both the general fund and education budgets will be priority number one next week. Henry and other lawmakers said more than $100 million of newly implemented taxes and fees the state of Alabama must pay due to the new federal health care law have eaten into discretionary funds that would have otherwise gone for a slight teacher pay hike out of the education budget. Gov. Robert Bentley had originally called for a two-percent pay raise for teachers in the next fiscal year.
"Absolutely budgets first, that's the one thing we're required to do," said Henry. "We have been working very closely with the Senate and the governor the last three, four days going into the weekend, and I believe we've worked everything out. Everybody is in agreement, so the budgets will be seamless from here."
Besides the budgets, a number of other notable bills are also expected to take the spotlight. HB 489, sponsored by Henry, would lengthen the wait time for abortions in Alabama from 24 to 48 hours. The bill has already passed the House and goes to the Senate.
House members will also look at a Senate-passed bill that would allow people to carry loaded guns in their vehicles without a permit, along with legislation dealing with welfare fraud and abuse.