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The Latest: Hanes gets session’s ‘deadest bill’ award

May 31, 2019

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on the Alabama Legislature (all times local):

7:03 p.m.

The Alabama House of Representatives has honored one legislator with its annual award for the “deadest bill” of the session.

Republican Rep. Tommy Hanes received the accolade Thursday for his bill regulating fertilizer made of human sewage. The clerk of the House says on a “scale of 1 to 10,” Hanes’ bill was a “No. 2.”

The award, known as the “Shroud,” has been given out since 1979 as a “high profile public burial” for one piece of legislation. Honorees are given an empty suit framed in a cardboard box.

Runners-up for this year’s award included legislation that would have created a paper lottery, yoga classes in schools, and a ban on plastic bag bans.

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5:45 p.m.

Alabama could become the next state to require third grade students to pass a reading test before moving to fourth grade.

The bill would require third graders to meet reading benchmarks beginning in the 2021-22 school year.

The House of Representatives on Thursday agreed to a Senate amendment. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey.

The bill also spells out initiatives to try to boost reading scores. Those include summer reading camps and providing local and regional specialists to work with struggling students.

About 16 states demand third grade students pass a reading score threshold or repeat the grade.

Supporters said statistics show students who can’t read on grade level will struggle throughout their academic careers. Opponents said the bill threatens struggling students with failure but does not adequately provide funding to help them.

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5:25 p.m.

Alabama lawmakers have approved legislation requiring public universities to develop and adopt policies protecting campus free speech.

The legislation limits university officials’ ability to cancel campus speakers.

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to amend the legislation to push back the implementation date to July 2020. University representatives say the change was needed to give them more time to comply with the legislation and to avoid unnecessary litigation.

The Senate approved the amended legislation 24-1, and the House concurred 73-26

The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey.

Supporters say the bill is to encourage free expression, but some Democrats argue the bill offers protections to racist speakers such as neo-Nazis.

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4:13 p.m.

Alabama could become the next state to require third grade students to read on grade level before moving to fourth grade.

The bill would require third graders beginning in the 2021-22 school year to meet reading benchmarks before moving to the fourth grade.

The Alabama Senate on Thursday unanimously approved the bill. The House of Representatives will decide whether to go along with a Senate amendment on the bill.

The bill also spells out a number of initiatives to boost reading scores, including summer reading camps and requiring regional specialists to work with struggling students.

About 16 states demand third grade students pass a reading score threshold or repeat the grade.

Supporters said statistics show students who can’t read on grade level will struggle throughout their academic careers. Opponents said the bill threatens struggling students with failure but does not adequately provide funding to help them.

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2:45 p.m.

Alabama legislators have approved an overhaul of the state parole board that would give the governor more control over the board.

The Alabama Senate on Thursday voted 25-5 for the bill that now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey.

Supporters say the recent paroles of some violent offenders, including a man who was later accused of killing three people, show the need for change.

Opponents say the bill would politicize the parole process and not address the problems that have occurred.

Under the bill, the governor would also gain the authority to appoint the parole board director. The bill would also establish sentence minimums inmates must serve before becoming eligible for parole. It would also give the governor and attorney general the ability to veto early paroles that deviate from that schedule if they believe the board violated guidelines.

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2:06 p.m.

Alabama lawmakers are headed to the end of the 2019 legislative session with some major decisions before them.

State budgets, several sweeping education bills and an overhaul of the state parole board are among the issues that will be decided at the end of the legislative session.

Lawmakers expect to end the session Thursday or Friday.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether to replace the elected state school board with an appointed commission.

Representatives could vote on a watered-down medical marijuana bill that would create a commission to make recommendations for the 2020 session.

The Alabama Senate could vote on a bill that would require third-graders to meet reading benchmarks before being promoted to the fourth grade.

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