2014 legislative update: Education budget, landlord-tenant changes, HIV drug bill advance in Alabama Legislature

K-12 teachers in Alabama wouldn’t get a raise next year under the Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget that a House committee approved Wednesday. The House is expected to vote on the plan next week.

The committee’s $5.9 billion budget would restore $10 million of state funding for Alabama State University that the Senate had removed. It also would include slight increases for K-12 and higher education, though next year’s ETF funding still would not come close to pre-recession levels. Check out AL.com’s report for more details.

Landlord-tenant revisions move closer to becoming law

Bills that would adjust several parts of Alabama’s landlord-tenant law in property owners’ favor are on the move in the Legislature. Without debate, the House voted 98-0 Tuesday for HB 523, sponsored by Rep. Paul Beckman, R-Prattville. A day later, a House committee approved SB 291, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston.

Both proposals would give landlords more time to refund a security deposit or give notice of why they are keeping some or all of it. The bills would increase that window from 35 days to 60 days. The measures also would allow landlords to treat a property as abandoned if electrical service is cut off for at least a week. In addition, landlords would have to provide only a seven-day written notice if they plan to terminate the lease for a violation that does not involve failure to pay rent. That would be down from the current 14-day timetable.

The only difference between the bills involves renters’ right to correct problems cited as a lease violation without getting the landlord’s written consent. SB 291 would give renters four chances every 12 months to correct such problems, while HB 523 would provide only two chances every 12 months.

Senate panel OKs bill to allow redistribution of some unopened HIV drugs

Pharmacies that dispense HIV medications for or in HIV clinics could redistribute certain unopened drugs under a bill that the Senate Health Committee approved Wednesday. SB 437, sponsored by Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, moves to the Senate. A nearly identical House bill – HB 138, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham – passed the House 99-0 last week and awaits the Senate committee’s consideration.

HIV clinics now must destroy unopened medications if patients do not show up for treatment. HB 138 and SB 437 would allow pharmacies to dispense those drugs to other patients and would set controls on handling and oversight of the drugs. Arise and other consumer advocates last year urged Gov. Robert Bentley to support this policy change as his Medicaid Pharmacy Study Commission met to look at ways to reduce costs in the state’s Medicaid drug assistance programs.

Lawmakers will return Tuesday for the 25th of 30 allowable meeting days during the 2014 regular session, which is expected to last until early April.

By Chris Sanders, communications director. Posted March 14, 2014.

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