Legislative session previewed in Hoover

Legislative session previewed in Hoover

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HOOVER, AL (WBRC) -

Today in Hoover, Alabama lawmakers heard from the state's top judge, prosecutor and prison chief about their needs for the coming year.

All three are seeking more funding. Chief Justice Roy Moore made it no secret that state courts want more money.

"Of course it's funding, in the last four years we lost 48 percent and a lot of court clerks offices are reduced 50 percent. Some judges are having to do their own typing and answering the phone," Moore said.

Moore says he understands the legislature will not approve new taxes but he believes lawmakers, like Congress, need to address spending and set priorities.

Attorney General Luther Strange says his office will be seeking to restore a major funding cut. Strange says prosecuting the BP spill case will be a top issue. So far, his office has covered much of the legal work, saving the state millions of dollars. Strange says he will also be seeking to make it tougher on any electronic bingo operators in Alabama.

"Would make the penalty for possession of these illegal slot machines a felony. Right now it's a misdemeanor. We think if it's going to be serious situation it needs to have some teeth in it," Strange said.

Alabama's prisons are also facing a serious prison population problem.

"We are in just as bad situation as were last year. So this is important, educating these people on understanding what our true dire needs are," Kim Thomas, Alabama Prison Commissioner said.

Homewood Rep. Paul DeMarco says funding will be a major concern for his committee but there are other serious issues.

"Issues about identity theft, exploitation of seniors. Obviously, school security issues, people are talking about that," DeMarco said.

The Joint House and Senate Judiciary Committee met today at 1 p.m. at the National Computer Forensic Institute located in Hoover.

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