MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – The Alabama Legislature only has eight legislative days left in this year’s session, with several big topics left to vote on. Some of those major topics include the prison reform bill, teacher raises, and of course, Governor Bentley’s possible impeachment – which will likely require a special session to be called.
Representative Mike Ball believes House leadership is close to having an impeachment resolution ready for a vote. That resolution will create a committee to compile evidence and craft a report detailing the allegations against Governor Bentley. As you might have guessed, that will take a lot of time. “It won’t be ready by the end of the session,” says Rep. Ball.
The District 10 representative says according to the Alabama Constitution, the legislature doesn’t have to be in session for the impeachment committee to function. Obviously, Governor Bentley wouldn’t call for a special session to impeach himself, so the House of Representatives has to do it, and that’s where things get complicated. “If half of the House members send a letter to the Secretary of State requesting a special session for the purposes of impeachment, then a special session will be called,” says Ball. That would mean 53 representatives would have to mail a letter to the secretary of state for a special session to be called.
Ball says, the legislation he’s seen would give the majority and minority leadership the power to appoint members to the committee. Republicans and Democrats would be given proportional spots based on the make up of the House.
With the governor’s unpopularity, Representative Ball believes Bentley’s proposal to close all of the state’s prisons and build four large replacements, may suffer with it. “I think it’s very much up in the air,” he says.
The Senate passed a version of the bill last week. Rep. Ball says he still has to review the changes the Senate has proposed, but says the outlook looks good. “It looks like a raise is coming,” says Ball.
Ball is also hoping Leni’s Law will pass before the end of the session. The bill would provide a criminal defense for parents who administer cannabis oil to their children. Studies have shown CDB oil lowers the number of seizures for children with epilepsy, and can also be helpful for people with autism and cancer.
Opponents claim the oil could be abused by drug users, but Rep. Mike Ball says consuming enough oil to make you high, would make someone sick first. “Naturally I expect roadblocks and speed bumps, but I do think the understanding of what we’re trying to do here, it’s growing. I believe the truth is on our side,” he says.
The House of Representatives added controversial amendments to Leni’s Law, that would reduce the amount of people who have access to CBD oil. Ball hopes the Senate will remove those amendments this week, so both chambers can pass the bill in its original form, next week.
State lawmakers will hold hearings this week on the state’s Medicaid program. The House and Senate general fund budget committee have scheduled a joint meeting Wednesday. Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar has said the program will have to make major reductions without additional funds. Earlier this year, lawmakers overrode Governor Bentley’s veto for a budget that includes $700 million to Medicaid next fiscal year.
Governor Bentley says $785 million is needed to maintain services in the program.