Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday signed the proclamation required to call a special session of the Alabama Legislature starting May 17.
The call includes budget-supporting legislation, redistricting measures, and efforts to further simply and clarify Alabama's immigration law.
Topics included in the call are as follows:
1.) Redistricting Legislation: This is a required process based on updated U.S. Census data. Lawmakers will re-draw, as necessary, district lines for representation of the public in the Alabama House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate.
2.) Legislation Addressing Constitutional Amendments: This is a technical amendment that corrects the double counting of bonds against the state's debt limit. The state will be able to save 30 million taxpayer dollars immediately upon passage. Further, this measure will authorize the availability of more than 100 million dollars in economic development money to assist in putting Alabamians back to work.
3.) Disposition of Funds: This legislation will put the state in a better financial position in the long-term. It will do so by providing a source of "growth revenue" for the state's General Fund budget. This revenue stream will grow as the economy grows. That means a more robust flow of revenue will help in funding essential state services as Alabama's economic recovery continues. This will support budgets approved by the Legislature.
4.) Immigration Law Revisions: Leaders in the state have worked together on a series of reforms aimed at simplifying Alabama's immigration law and making it more effective. Governor Bentley believes progress was made in the regular legislative session, and we have an opportunity to further clarify the law.
Governor Bentley has some concerns regarding a portion of the school provision in the existing immigration law. This section is currently enjoined by a federal court. Governor Bentley believes that revising this section to prevent children from being interrogated would allow the injunction to be lifted, making the law more effective.
The Governor is supportive of studies that calculate the cost of illegal immigration on the state's public education system. His proposed revision seeks to ensure that any data collected is done so in a constitutional manner. The result is a bill that is further clarified and more applicable.
Also, a recently proposed addition to the existing law would require the Department of Homeland Security to publish the names of illegal immigrants who have had various matters before the courts. Such a list could be counterproductive and take away from the focus of the original law. The purpose of this particular section of the law is to gather data and statistics, not names.
"The essence of the law must remain the same, and that is if you live or work in Alabama, you must do so legally," Governor Bentley said. "We must make sure that final revisions to the immigration law make the law more effective, help promote economic growth, ensure fairness, and provide greater clarity on the application of the law. I believe these additional revisions will help us as we accomplish those goals. A more effective, enforceable bill is a stronger bill."
5.) Appropriation of Tobacco Settlement Funds: This legislation would allow the state to appropriate funds from a previous settlement with cigarette manufacturers. These appropriations are made each year.
The special session is necessary to build upon the legislation approved during the regular session of the Alabama Legislature.