Legislature will focus on details
Published 2:46 am Friday, January 1, 2016
Members of the Alabama legislature are still catching their collective breaths from work done in 2015, but will be back at work soon, Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, said.
The 2016 legislative session begins Feb. 2.
“We spent so much of the year of 2015 in regular and special sessions, we’ve not had a lot of time to develop bills for next session,” Jones said. “This coming session, there will not be as many big topic issues. This year will be more about breaking down details.”
In 2015, the legislature tackled and passed monumental prison reform legislation. Before the session begins, Jones said, there will be meetings to determine how implementation of prison reform is working.
“I think we will have to address court fees and money for courts,” he said.
Budget committee members are expected to begin work early in January.
“They have three days of hearings set in the second week of January,” Jones said. “For both the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund, we are moving back to a system of having hearings before developing a budget. This is the way it was done for years.”
Jones said the legislature also must take a hard look at how state law enforcement is funded.
“Safety has to stay at the top,” he said. “We cut so deeply in some things, that we may have to revisit that.”
Early reports from legislators involved in the budgeting process indicate there will be moves to remove earmarks on some funding.
“Some of those things that are earmarked, are earmarked for good reasons,” Jones said. “We can’t get the cart ahead of the horse.”
Still, he is optimistic about the new year.
“New Year’s brings hope, new friends and opportunities,” he said. “For my family, 2016 brings my oldest daughter’s high school graduation and the start of college. Wow, that happened fast. My youngest daughter will be moving to the AHS campus to begin junior high.
“The New Year is also a time of reflection,” he said. “I look back at all the blessings God has provided to our community and our families, and I am thankful.”