Lawmakers end legislative session early; begin preps for elections

Lawmakers end legislative session early; begin preps for elections

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Lawmakers wrapped up the 2018 legislative session Thursday, the Senate adjourning shortly after passing the state's education budget, and the House after passing some Senate bills.

Lawmakers normally have 30 legislative days to complete their constitutional duties of passing the state's budgets. Lawmakers completed their business on the 26th day of session.

The two state budgets were both seen to be in their best shape in years. Buoyed by a strong economy, the $6.6 billion education budget included a 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers, more money for Pre K and included a one-time bonus for retirees. The general fund budget also was in good shape, thanks in large part to more than $90 million of money carried over from last year's budget.

The two biggest controversies of the session did not take place until about the halfway mark. The school shooting in Florida quickly sparked debate over school safety in Alabama. More than a half-dozen proposals became public, including arming school teachers and a semi-automatic weapon ban. Lawmakers did eventually pass legislation instituting the school safety task force and a bill opening up a part of the rolling reserve fund to be used for one-time school security purchases.

The session finished with debate over the racial profiling bill. The legislation would have required police to record data from traffic stops to include a person's ethnicity. Despite plenty of debate and conversations behind the scenes, the bill never came up for a vote during the final week.

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