A bill that would allow the state to take over poorly performing school systems passed the Senate last week and now heads to the House for approval.
"It will be a good way to force some reform where it's been lacking," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery.
Senate Bill 60 says the State Board of Education "may intervene in the educational operations of a city or county board of education and thereby assume general and direct control over all decisions" if the state superintendent determines that a majority of the schools in the system are "priority schools." The bill defines priority schools as ones where a majority of students are scoring one or more grade levels below state assessments or is "designated as a priority school by the state superintendent."
"There has been no way to force a local school system to do anything differently," Brewbaker, chairman of the Senate Education Policy Committee, said last week. "Now the state superintendent has clear authority, not just in fiscal mismanagement but academic failure, to come in and do something.
"The systems that are performing and doing well, this won't affect them at all."
The bill now goes to the House.
Some north Alabama lawmakers want to lift the newly enforced ban on gill net fishing on the Tennessee River and its tributaries.
In December, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said it would begin enforcing a ban on gill and trammel nets in the Tennessee River basin. The state said the gill net ban wasn't enforced for years based on a legal interpretation that it was unconstitutional. But a state attorney general's opinion late last year said the law could be enforced.
Both nets can be used to catch large amounts of fish by blocking off a section of a stream or waterway.
The current punishment for fishing with a gill or trammel net is up to $500 and/or up to six months in jail.
Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, has filed a bill repealing the ban and several other lawmakers from the Shoals and Tennessee Valley are listed as co-sponsors.
A bill by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, to amend the Code of Alabama to allow municipalities to expend funds in support of federal facilities also passed the Senate last week.
Under current law, cities can't spend money on military installations. Orr's bill will allow cities to make improvements, including roads or structures. Orr has said the measure would allow some flexibility to local municipalities to perhaps add some incentives and keep jobs under the federal Base Closure and Realignment procedure.
The same bill passed the Senate last year but died in the House.
Mary Sell covers state government for the TimesDaily. She can be reached at mary.sell@TimesDaily.com.