Tag: alabama legislature

Medical marijuana bill passes Alabama Senate committee

Ashleigh Crouch, Correspondent

The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee voted 8-1, with one member abstaining, to advance the ‘Compassion Act’ to the Senate, a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Alabama.

Continue reading “Medical marijuana bill passes Alabama Senate committee”

Remembering JSU alumnus and state representative Jim Patterson


Alabama Representative Jim Patterson sits at his desk. Patterson died Monday, leaving behind a wife, three children and grandchildren (photo via yellowhammernews.com)

Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief

Alabama State Representative and JSU alumnus Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville, died suddenly of a heart attack on Monday, October 2. Patterson has represented Alabama District 21 since 2010. He was 67 when he died.

Before being elected as a state representative, Patterson served on the Madison County School Board from 1988 to 2000. He brought this passion for helping children with him to the House where he passed a bill in May 2017 that required insurance companies to pay for therapy for autistic children 18 or younger. Prior to this bill, Alabama was one of the few states that didn’t require insurance companies to cover autism therapy.

“When so many of us had doubts and worries, he never once wavered,” Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, told the Montgomery Advertiser of Patterson’s determination to pass the bill. “He brought a sunny optimism to passing that bill. When he faced a lot of tough opponents, he didn’t back down. He is the reason that bill passed into law.”

Members of the Alabama government mourned Patterson’s loss and reminisced on the impact he had on the state.

“Representative Patterson had a huge heart and exemplified the role of a citizen-legislator,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement on Monday. “Jim was a voice for the children and the needy in our society, and that voice will be sorely missed.”

Patterson graduated from JSU in 1972 with a degree in business. He was actively involved in the SGA, Delta Chi fraternity and the ROTC program during his years at JSU, and he went on to serve in the U.S. military, first in the Army from 1972 until 1976 and then in the Army Reserves as a company commander of D-926th Engineer Battalion from 1976 until 1982.

“In the public, he was an ambassador for JSU,” said Rep. Koven Brown, R-Jacksonville. Recalling Patterson’s love for his alma mater, Brown added, “He was constantly recruiting athletes for JSU. I saw him approach an athlete that was visiting AUM [Auburn University at Montgomery] at a hotel. Jim tried to recruit him to JSU.”

“All of us in the Alabama State House will miss ‘Big Jim’ and his equally big personality,” Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon said in a statement.







Session begins, Alabamians grit teeth

“It’s time we change course,” said Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in his 2015 State of the State address. “It’s time for a bold move.”

Lawmakers in the room were hoping the governor was laying out his agenda for a new golf course, not a course of tough legislative action.

Alabamians across the state are hoping Governor Bentley just wants us to show off bold moves on the dance floor, not moving cash from our pocket books to the state.

To the governor, to lawmakers and to all Alabamians I have to say: it’s time to grit your teeth. Because the course is going to be rough and the boldness of the Alabama legislature is yet to be tested and leaves us all wondering what changes lie ahead.

Governor Bentley proposed eight pieces of legislation that will, essentially raise taxes in Alabama. Many include bringing back or getting rid of old tax credits, but some are actually brand new tax increases.

In fact, two increases include a 2 percent increase on the tax collected from automobile sales and the other is a 3 percent increase on the tax paid when renting a vehicle in the state of Alabama.

The third new tax increase is an additional 82.5 cents per pack on cigarettes. The governor’s tax proposals will have combined estimated total new revenue of about $541 million. That’s $541 million more coming out of Alabamians’ pockets per year.

Gritting those teeth yet? Blood boiling yet? This is how the upcoming legislative session is going to go for lawmakers all across the state. Wondering, wishing, hoping, debating, crying, and begging for better solutions to the state’s problems.

In the legislature, it will be a knock-down, drag-out fight between those ‘no new taxes’ candidates (even though Bentley was one) and the ‘we need new revenue’ legislators. The legislative leadership have voiced skepticism over any new taxes, but at the same time they admit that our state is facing, at minimum, a $300 million budget shortfall – if not much more.

This is just the beginning of the many issues the legislature will be debating this year. Others include: charter schools, changes to the Alabama Accountability Act, same-sex marriage bills, the lottery, compacts with the Poarch Creek Indians – just to name a few.

I will do my best over the next few weeks to outline the hot issues and relevant topics taken up by our state’s lawmakers. I wish I could pain a picture of high hopes, but with polar opposite options of underfunded budgets or new taxes, it’s hard to do so.

The best I can say is keep your fingers crossed and grit your teeth. This legislative session is going to be a bumpy, but necessary ride!

Brett Johnson
Political Columnist