LWVAL Action Priority Level III - Issues identified by LWVAL Advocacy Committee and/or State Board or Local Leagues. Monitoring occurs; action dependent on opportunity and available resources.
Click a bill to see sponsor(s), synopsis, link to the bill, League action and justification for that action, and progress of the bill through the legislative process.
Legend: = LWVAL's support for the legislation. = LWVAL's opposition to the legislation. = new bill activity; change from previous week's report such as new progress in the legislature and/or League action. Bill may be one newly added to the report. These updates are in green font.
HB28 - Criminal records, expunged of, eligibility expanded to include add'l offenses and youthful offender adjudications, filing fees, distrib. of fees revised, Secs. 15-27-1, 15-27-2, 15-27-3,15-27-4, 15-27-6, 15-27-7, 15-27-8 am'd. SB119 - Expungement of criminal records, authorized for youthful offenders, Sec. 15-27-2.1 added
HB28 Sponsor(s): Rep. England SB119 Sponsor(s): Senator Whatley Synopsis: This bill expands the ways persons can expunge past criminal convictions from their records. It allows for automatic expungement upon the successful completion of such prosecution diversion programs as drug court, veterans court, or court ordered mental health counseling. It also allows expungement for youthful offenders and many kinds of minor offenses (but not for sex offenses or domestic violence offenses) as well as for offenses that have been officially pardoned.
League Action and Justification: Support. The bill promotes court diversion and counseling programs which the league supports. It also supposes the idea that rehabilitation is the goal of the criminal justice system, another concept that the league supports – unfortunately, if the expungement is not automatic (as it would be for successful completion of a prosecution diversion program), it is expensive for low income persons ($300 filing fee and $500 administrative charge). Bill Progress in Legislature: HB 28
02/07/2017: First Read and assigned to House Judiciary Committee (JUD)
02/07/2017: First Read and assigned to Senate committee Judiciary (JUD)
SB35 - Domestic violence, protection orders, definitions clarified, notice of hearing and service of process requirements clarified, fines and penalties for violations clarified, Sec. 13A-6-139.1 repealed; Secs. 13A-6-130, 13A-6-131, 13A-6-132, 13A-6-134, 13A-6-138, 13A-6-142, 15-10-3, 15-13-190, 15-23-68, 30-5-2, 30-5-3, 30-5-5, 30-5-8 am'd.
Sponsor(s): Senator Scofield
Synopsis: Under existing law, the commission of domestic violence is a crime, and there are provisions to protect domestic violence victims from further acts of violence. Furthermore, during the 2015 Regular Session, significant revisions were made to existing provisions in law governing domestic violence offenses and domestic violence protection orders (Act 2015-496). This bill would clarify certain provisions of Act 2015-496, including clarification of definitions, including dating relationships and household members, certain requirements for sworn petitions for protection orders, notice of hearing and service of process requirements, fines and penalties for violations of protection orders, arrests without warrants for violation of protection orders, release and bail of domestic violence offenders, and provisions governing domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation.
League Action and Justification: Support. An importation part of the principles upon which the League of Women Voters was founded is that government “share in the solution of economic and social problems that affect the general welfare…”
Domestic violence occurs without distinction among demographic groups, including race, economic class, age, sexual preference, educational level, occupational category. Its impacts (short-term and long-term) include among other things added costs to law enforcement, the courts, and medical systems; traumatic stress disorder in the victims (the abused and the young who witness the abuse) and such related negative behaviors are acting out, poor school performance and depression; perpetuation of abuse across generations; and much more.
Act 2015-496 was supported by League, and this bill seeks to improve that legislation.
Bill Progress in Legislature: 02/07/2017: First Read and referred to Senate committee on Judiciary (JUD)
HB298 - Domestic violence, increased incarceration periods and enhanced penalties for convictions of first, second, or third degree domestic violence if committed in the presence of a minor, capital offense expanded to include murder of a parent or guardian in the presence of a child, Hollie's Law, Secs. 13A-5-40, 13A-6-130, 13A-6-131, 13A-6-132 am'd.
Sponsor(s): Representatives Pettus, Ledbetter, Faulkner, Williams (P), Williams (JW), Shedd, Wood, Patterson, Fridy, Sessions, South, Rowe, Weaver and Greer
Synopsis: Under existing law, certain periods of incarceration are required for persons convicted of first, second, or third degree domestic violence. This bill would double the incarceration periods for convictions of first or second degree domestic violence if a child under the age of 18 years witnessed the domestic violence and would provide increased incarceration periods for a first conviction of third degree domestic violence if a child under the age of 18 years witnessed the domestic violence and enhanced penalties for second, third, or subsequent convictions of third degree domestic violence if a child witnessed the domestic violence. Also under existing law, a person who commits a capital offense may be sentenced to death or life without parole. This bill would include as a capital offense murder by the defendant that is witnessed by a child under the age of 18 years, if the victim was the parent or legal guardian of the child.
League Action and Justification: Oppose. League does not support the use of the death penalty. And, the child witness could be further traumatized by the carrying out of the death penalty if the perpetrator is a parent or guardian.
Bill Progress in Legislature:
02/23/2017: First Read and referred to the House committee on Judiciary (JUD)
HB280 - Employment practice, unlawful to inquire from job applicant information relating to arrests or conviction of crimes, criminal record, with exceptions
Sponsor: Representative Givan
Synopsis: This is a "ban-the-box" provision. The state, its agencies, and political subdivisions shall be prohibited from inquiring into a job applicant's conviction history until a conditional job offer has been made. Prior convictions may be considered only if relevant to the position to be offered.
League Action and Justification: Support. LWVAL's position states: "[League] supports the concept of rehabilitation as a major goal of the criminal justice system." This bill would promote rehabilitation.
Bill Progress in Legislature: 02/21/2017: Read for the first time and referred to the House committee on State Government (SG)
SB294 - Municipal courts, pretrial diversion program, voluntary transfer authorized
Sponsor(s): Senator Ward
Synopsis: Municipal Courts would be authorized to transfer cases to District Court in order to give the charged access to pre-trial diversion programs.
League Action and Justification: Support. This bill is in line with our position on Criminal Justice.
Bill Progress in Legislature: 03/09/2017: Read for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on Judiciary (JUD) 04/06/2017: 2nd Read and placed on the calendar; pending 3rd Read and Favorable from JUD 04/11/2017: 3rd Reading Passed; Motion ot Read a 3rd Time and Pass adopted by Roll Call
04/11/2017: Read for the first time and referred to the House committee on Judiciary (JUD)
SB344 - Municipal courts, municipal judges, to require defendants to be released as an unsecured appearance bond or on personal recognizance, with exceptions, Sec. 12-14-5 am'd.
Sponsor(s): Senator Albritton
Synopsis: This bill would require municipal judges to release persons coming before them for violation of a municipal ordinance, without the requirement of bail. The person charged would be issued a citation requiring appearance at a specified time. There is an exception if the person is preliminarily deemed to be a danger to himself, herself or others, or if the release will not reasonably guarantee the person's appearance as ordered. In such cases, a hearing on such finding must be held within 48 hours of an arrest without a warrant or 72 hours of an arrest with a warrant.
League Action and Justification: Support.LWVUS policy states that the nature and severity of the crime charged should be taken into account. Indigent persons accused of minor violations are often unable to raise bail and wind up spending significant time in jail. This bill would help alleviate that problem.
Bill Progress in Legislature:
04/ 04/2017: Read for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on the Judiciary
4/13/2017: 2nd Read and place on the Calendar with 1 Amendment (184941-2); pending 3rd Read and Favorable from JUD with ! Amendment; JUD 1st Amendment Offered.
[NOTE: The amendment add the following to the bill: “"(2) If financial conditions of bail are set, the municipal judge shall first ensure that the defendant can afford to pay the financial obligations without substantial hardship, and shall explain this finding in the written findings made on the record.” "(3) If for any reason the defendant is unable to pay any financial conditions of bail imposed, the municipal judge shall waive or reduce the financial conditions upon satisfactory showing that the defendant is indigent or otherwise unable to make bond, and may impose additional non-financial conditions of release.” ]
HB537 - Genital mutilation, making act on female under 19 years of age a Class B felony
Sponsor(s): Representative Scott
Synopsis: This legislation would make genital mutilation of a female under the age of 19 a Class B felony. Any person who performs the procedure or a parent or guardian who consents to it being performed on his or her child would be guilty. Religious reasons for the procedure would not be allowed as a defense, nor would consent of the person on whom it is performed.
League Action and Justification: Support - Although League positions do not contain references to female genital mutilation, the bill can be supported by positions on both the protection of children and protection against violence against women.
Bill Progress in Legislature: 04/18/2017: Read for the first time and referred to the House committee on Judiciary (JUD)
LWVAL is monitoring these bills:
HB279 - Expungement of criminal records, expanded to include all felony offenses subject to a successful malicious prosecution civil claim, Sec. 15-27-2 am'd.
Sponsor: Representative Baker
Synopsis: Currently, a person may petition the court to expunge records of charges for other than violent felony charges, under certain circumstances. This expands the type of charges that may be expunged when the person is found not guilty, to include violent felony charges.
League Action and Justification: Monitor. League has no position on this issue. Bill Progress in Legislature:
02/21/2017: Read for the 1st time and referred to the House committee on Judiciary (JUD) 03/02/2017: 2nd Read and placed on the calendar with 1 Amendment (183351-1); pending 3rd Read and favorable from JUD with 1 amendment
[NOTE: The amendment sets up procedures for potential release of the expunged record in case of civil suit arising from the arrest or conviction that was the subject of the expungement.] 03/07/2017: Third Reading Carried Over; Holmes (M) Amendment (183612-1) Offered; Motion to Adopt adopted by Roll Call; Holmes (M) motion to Carry Over Temporarily adopted by Voice Vote; Holmes (M) motion to Carry Over Temporarily adopted Voice Vote
04/06/2017: 3rd Read Passed; JUD Amendment (183351-1) Offered; Motion to Adopt adopted by Roll Call; Motion to Read a 3rd Time and Pass adopted by Roll Call; Engrossed
[NOTE: JUD Amendment sets procedures and limits for asking for expunged records for use in court and would make law apply retroactively.] Senate Action:
04/11/2017: Read for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on Judiciary (JUD)
04/20/2017: 2nd Read and place on the calendar; pending 3rd Read and Favorable from JUD
Sponsor(s): Representative Scott Synopsis: The bill establishes the Elder Abuse Protection Order and Enforcement Act. The act creates a method for obtaining a protection order against an individual who has committed elder abuse and expands the ability of law enforcement to assist victims by allowing for arrest without warrants as amended under Section 15-10-3. An order is defined as a restraint order, injunctive order, order of release from custody and may be issued by a circuit, district, municipal or probate court. Elderly person is defined as a person 60 years of age or older.
League Action and Justification: Monitor. While this legislation provides for speedier protection for victims and aligns with that relating to domestic abuse, there is no directly applicable League position on elder abuse. Bill Progress in Legislature: 02 /23/2017: First Reading and referred to House committee on Judiciary (JUD)