Legislative Wrap-Up, 0917 ALBJ, 78 The Alabama Lawyer 376 (2017)

Author:Othni J. Lathram, J.


Vol. 78 No. 5 Pg. 376

Alabama Bar Lawyer

September, 2017

Othni J. Lathram, J.

For more information about the institute, visit www.ali.state.al.us.

Co-authored by

Caleb Hindman

2017 Legislative Recap, Part 2

The July edition of this column covered the general tone of the 2017 Legislative Session and gave detailed information on the Alabama Law Institute legislation that passed. This month serves as installment two and covers other noteworthy legislation. There were 1,031 bills introduced during the 2017 Legislative Session, of which 299 were enacted and became law, and of that total, 152 were general bills. Below are summaries of select general bills that might be of interest to practitioners around the state. Summaries of all of the general acts can be found at http://lrs.state.al.us/publications/publications.html.

Constitutional Amendments

Right to Life (Act 2017-188)

Representative Matt Fridy

This proposed constitutional amendment declares that it is the public policy of the state to support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children and specifies that the state constitution does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion. Effective upon ratification and will be voted on at the November 2018 General Election

Court System

Judicial Reallocation (Act 2017-42)

Senator Arthur Orr

This act creates the Judicial Resources Allocation Commission and establishes the criteria for determining the need for increasing or decreasing the number of judge-ships in the district and circuit courts. The act also provides that, in the event of a district or circuit court judgeship vacancy, the commission will determine whether to reallocate the judgeship to another district or circuit or to fill the vacancy according to law. Effective: March 6, 2017

Liability of Probate Court Judge (Act 2017-174)

Senator Greg Albritton

This act further revises the circumstances under which a judge of probate may be liable for either not taking a bond or for taking an insufficient bond from a conservator or a personal representative of an estate. The act also provides that a judge of probate may only be liable for wanton, fraudulent or intentional misconduct rather than neglect or omission. Effective: July 1, 2017

Judicial Administration Fund (Act 2017-270)

Senator Rodger Smitherman

This act provides that funds in the Circuit Clerk’s Judicial Administration Fund may be used for awarding merit and promotional raises to full-time employees of the clerk’s office. Effective: October 1, 2017

Probate Court Fees (Act 2017-293)

Representative Juandalynn Givan

This act provides that probate court fees must be collected either at the time a pleading is filed or at the termination of a suit, as determined by the court. The act also provides that the court may order that security deposits be deposited with the court to cover expected court costs. Effective: August 1, 2017

Probate Judge Contempt Power (Act 2017-388)

Representative Matt Fridy

This act provides that when a judge of probate is a licensed attorney in this state, the judge has the same power to punish for civil contempt as granted to a judge of the circuit court. Effective: May 26, 2017

Registered Therapy Dogs and Certified Facility Dogs (Act 2017-413)

Senator Jimmy Holley

Sections 2 through 4 of the act, known as Koda’s Law, authorize a court to allow a registered therapy dog, as defined, to accompany a victim or witness while testifying. Section 6 of the act, known as Willow’s Law, authorizes a certified facility dog, as defined, to accompany a victim or witness while testifying. Effective: August 1, 2017

Criminal Law

False Claims for Medicaid Benefits (Act 2017-66)

Senator Lee “Trip” Pittman

This act: (1) requires that a person must act knowingly to be convicted of making a false statement or claim on an application for payment of medical benefits from the Medicaid Agency, (2) provides certain exceptions for activity excepted by federal law and (3) establishes a six-year statute of limitations. Effective: June 1, 2017

Jury Override (Act 2017-131)

Senator Dick Brewbaker

This act: (1) prohibits a court from overriding a jury verdict in a capital case; (2) specifies that when a jury in a capital case returns a verdict of death, the defendant must be sentenced to death; and (3) specifies that when a jury in a capital case returns a verdict of guilty, but not a verdict of death, the defendant must be sentenced to life without parole. Effective: April 11, 2017

Assisted Suicide Ban Act (Act 2017-231)

Representative mack Butler

This act makes it a crime for any person to deliberately aid another person in dying and provides that if a person aids or assists another in committing suicide or dying, the personal representative or administrator of the estate of the decedent may bring an action for wrongful death. The act also provides that if any physician or healthcare provider violates the act, the appropriate licensing board must suspend or revoke his or her license. Effective: August 1, 2017

Elder Abuse Protection Order and Enforcement Act (Act 2017-284)

Senator Rodger Smitherman

This act provides for the issuance of elder abuse protection orders and ex parte elder abuse protection orders, authorizes certain individuals to petition for the orders and provides penalties for violations of the orders. The act also specifies that a law enforcement officer may arrest a person without a warrant when the officer has reasonable cause to believe t hat the person violated an elder abuse protection order or has committed elder abuse. Effective: August 1, 2017

Medicaid Benefits (Act 2017-298)

Representatives Chris England and April Weaver

This act suspends, but does not...

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