Tuesday was a long day for state legislators, the Alabama Senate was in session until 3 o'clock this morning debating bills. One piece of legislation that won't be considered this year is a measure that would have repealed Common Core Education Standards for public schools.
Former Democratic state Senator Lowell Barron of Fyffe has been indicted in Fort Payne. DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris says Barron surrendered Tuesday afternoon on a five-count indictment the state attorney general's office got a county grand jury to issue. The 70-year-old former senator was released on $10,000 dollar bond. Barron was one of Alabama's most powerful senators when Democrats controlled the Legislature. He was defeated in 2010.
It's expected that lawmakers will focus on the budgets this week in the Alabama Legislature. Each body has passed one of the spending plans. The Senate has approved the General Fund Budget. Republican Senator Arthur Orr of Decatur crafted the 1.74 billion dollar budget that funds most state agencies. He was disheartened that a pay increase for state employees couldn't be worked out. The House of Representatives still must pass the General Fund Budget. The education budget has made it through the House, but not the Senate.
The former chairman of Alabama's Democratic Party says he's forming a new group to fight Republican dominance in state politics. Mark Kennedy announced the new Alabama Democratic Majority Foundation in Birmingham, Monday. Kennedy formed the group immediately after his resignation took effect as state party chairman.
The state Legislature is moving onto the final stretch of the 2013 regular session. Lawmakers plan to work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. After that, legislators will have five days left in the session. Completing work on the budgets will be the priority in the House Senate this week. The state Education Budget has already passed the House and the Senate has passed the General fund spending plan.
State labor officials say Alabama's unemployment rate held steady in March. The unemployment rate last month was 7.2 percent, which is the same as March 2012. The number of people with jobs grew by nearly 7,000 and there was only a slight increase in the number of unemployed.