HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING IN ALABAMA’S LEGISLATIVE SESSION
By WVUA 23 Student Reporter Kailey McCarthy
Alabama lawmakers return to their latest legislative session Tuesday to a full plate of issues. Alabama Rep. Chris England gave WVUA 23 a rundown of the issues at play this week.
England, a member of the impeachment committee, will meet in early April to discuss the possible impeachment of Gov. Robert Bentley.
“As far as the tentative schedule is concerned, we are scheduled to meet a report from our committee is scheduled to be released on the 7th and then the following week, we will begin hearings,” England said.
The impeachment committee will then decide whether or not to refer the articles to the full house for a vote. If that happens, the vote will be in early May.
Another item up for contention is Alabama’s death penalty. England is sponsoring a bill that would end a judge’s ability to override a jury’s recommendations regarding the death penalty. Discussion on that bill begins Tuesday.
“A judge can unilaterally decide to sentence someone to death or sentence someone regardless of the jury’s recommendation,” England said. “This bill would end that.”
this bill would make the jury’s decision final. At the moment, if a jury recommends life without parole, a judge can override their recommendation and sentence someone to death instead.
“There are some who argue that judges’ opinions are something can be swayed by politics and the need to be re-elected,” England said. “If we remove that power, then that argument goes away.”
Prison reform is another topic on the agenda for Tuesday. The proposed bill authorizes the state to lease as many as three prisons built by local communities.
England said he believes that even with the passage of the bill, the state’s prison system would be overcrowded and understaffed.
“My focus would be rather, if we’re going to borrow that money, to make a substantial investment in mental health treatment and also substance abuse treatment,” England said. “So we’d cut back on recidivism and actually start dealing with the problem itself.”
There are 17 days left in this year’s legislative session.