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What’s on tap at the State House – January 18, 2022

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The Legislature’s regular session could be put on hold as early as today with an expected special session call from Gov. Kay Ivey to focus on spending about $772 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.

But before that, there’s plenty of regular session activities on tap today in the State House. As of early this morning, there were four Senate committee meetings scheduled, including some meaty bills.

First up at 12:15 p.m. is the education budget committee with two tax-reduction bills from committee chair Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. 

Senate Bill 18 would allow up to $10,000 from defined contribution deferred compensation plans, such as 401Ks, to be exempt from income tax for individuals 65 and older. This exemption will be phased in over a two-year period.

Senate Bill 19 would increase the optional standard deduction by the following amounts by $1,000 for couples married filing jointly and $500 for those single, married filing separately and head of household.

The bill also increases the adjusted gross income range allowable for the maximum optional standard deduction to $35,000, up from $33,000, and the adjusted gross income range allowable for dependent exemption to $50,000, up from $20,000, to increase the threshold at which the state imposes individual income taxes.

Senate Government Affairs Committee meets at 1 p.m. with a 16-bill agenda, including two protecting historic monuments.

Senate Bill 53 by Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, would make damaging a monument a Class B or C felony, depending on the circumstances. Class B felonies carry prison sentences of up to 20 years.

Allen’s Senate Bill 54 would increase the fines for breaking the state’s 2017 law that prohibits removing historical markers, including those honoring Confederates. The new bill increases the fine municipalities must pay for altering monuments from a total of $25,000 to $5,000 daily.

The committee also has Orr’s Senate Bill 56. It would put limits on how law enforcement agencies can use artificial intelligence and facial recognition to make arrests.

The bill says “a state or local law enforcement agency may not use the results of artificial intelligence or a facial recognition service as the sole basis to establish probable cause in a criminal investigation or to make an arrest.” 

The results of a facial recognition service may be used only in conjunction with other information and evidence lawfully obtained by a law enforcement officer to establish probable cause in a criminal investigation or to make an arrest.

The Senate Judiciary committee meets at 2:30 to consider Senate Bill 23, which would alter a 2021 law sponsored by Rep. Tim Melson, R-Florence, that allows local police to issue citations for certain crimes, rather than make arrests. The bill adds criminal trespassing and possession of an illegal prescription to the list of crimes that require arrest. It also clarifies the bail process for those appearing in court after a citation.

The Senate Tourism Committee is set to meet at 2 p.m., but its agenda is not available.

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