Update 1 on the 2016 Alabama Legislature’s current session
So far this year, the current legislative session has renewed quite a number of governmental agencies. As required by Alabama’s sunset law, government agencies don’t continue to exist until the legislature affirmatively “kills” them. Instead, agencies automatically “die” after a time—unless the legislature affirmatively acts to continue their lives. See Code of Alabama § 40-21-1 and following.
In addition to passing the state’s budget, the legislature has enacted the following legislation:
Alabama Act 2016-18: This act prohibits local governmental units from passing local minimum-wage laws. Birmingham had passed an ordinance to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour; however, this act has now taken away their power to do so. For more details.
Alabama Act 2016-43: This act establishes the crime of aggravated child abuse of children under the age of 6. Before this law was passed, there were two classes of child abuse: “basic” child abuse and aggravated child abuse. This adds a third, more serious class: aggravated child abuse of children under the age of 6.
“Basic” child abuse is torture, willful abuse, cruel beating, or other willful maltreatment of any child under the age of 18. See Alabama Code § 26-15-3. “Basic” child abuse is a class C felony, meaning that a person convicted of that crime may be sentenced up to 10 years in prison. Aggravated child abuse has the elements of “basic” child abuse, but involves abuse occurring more than once, violating a restraining order, or causing serious injury. This crime is a class B felony, meaning the person convicted of that crime may be sentenced up to 20 years in prison. See Alabama Code § 26-15-3.1.
The new crime of aggravated child abuse for children under 6 years old has the elements of “basic” child abuse and those of aggravated child abuse, but adds an age element. If a child under 6 years old is abused, the crime is a Class A felony, meaning that the person convicted has to serve no less than10 years and up to life in prison. See Alabama Code § 26-15-3.3.
Alabama Act 2016-86: This act puts a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for the next general election. The amendment would enshrine Alabama’s right-to-work law in the state’s constitution, using almost exactly the same language as the current statute. For more information.
Alabama Act 2016-96: This act amends the Alabama Natural Death Act. See Alabama Code § 22-8A-2 and following. The amendment allows for a portable do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. In addition to an advance health care directive, patients and their physicians will be allowed to use a form specified by the State Board of Health that makes the DNR part of the patient’s record. In short, there are now two ways in which a patient may indicate his or her wishes to not be resuscitated: with an advance health care directive or with a DNR form.
Alabama Act 2016-97: This act reduces restrictions on so-called micro breweries. As provided by this act, small breweries can sell up to 288 ounces of beer a day for off-premises consumption, can donate up to two kegs of beer to licensed charitable events, and no longer have to be located only in historic buildings, historic districts, economically distressed areas, or counties that were wet before prohibition.
Alabama Act 2016-101: This act addresses insurance policies covering road hazards, which are defined as potholes, rocks, wood debris, metal parts, glass, plastic curbs, composite scraps, or similar materials. This act gives the Alabama insurance commissioner power to regulate policies that provide for the repair of tires, wheels, and windshields, as well as for paintless dent removal and replacement of inoperable, lost, or stolen vehicle keys.
Alabama Act 2016-111: This act legalizes wine and liquor tasting events when they are held at a store licensed to sell liquor for off-premises consumption or in state liquor stores. This act also empowers the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to regulate these activities.