April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Legislature Passes Transgender Sports Bill

Last week, the legislature passed a bill that prohibits biological males play on female sports teams in Alabama schools (K-12). It’s now headed to Governor Ivey to be signed into law, although the governor has not yet commented on her intentions to sign it or not. Alabama is not alone in taking these steps. More than 12 other states have recently passed laws dealing with this and other transgender issues.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Senate Passes Bill for College Athletics Compensation

The Alabama Senate unanimously approved a House-passed bill saying that college athletes can receive compensation for their name, image and likeness. The legislation comes as the NCAA prepares to adopt rules that will allow student athletes to profit off their names, with certain limitations, while still competing at the collegiate level. The NCAA’s board of governors has approved the concept, but opposes legislation by states on the issue and prefers that Congress pass a bill that would provide uniformity across states. The main purpose of the Alabama measure is to ensure that Alabama universities are not at a disadvantage in recruiting. The bill will not take effect until the NCAA adopts rules to govern the process.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Senate Approves Bill for Lottery & Casinos

The Alabama Senate has approved legislation to allow voters to decide whether to have a lottery and casinos. The main bill, a constitutional amendment by Republican Senator Jim McClendon of Springville, passed by a vote of 23-9. McClendon’s original bill would allow voters to decide whether to have a lottery. The Senate adopted a substitute by McClendon that adds six casinos to the plan. Four of the casinos would be at the state’s greyhound tracks in Birmingham, Mobile, Greene County and Macon County. One would be in Houston County, at the Crossing at Big Creek bingo hall. The sixth would be in either DeKalb or Jackson County in northeast Alabama. The plan would authorize sports betting and require the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Senator Bobby Singleton of Greensboro proposed an amendment to add a casino in Lowndes County, but that amendment failed to get the required 21 votes and was rejected 18-11. For a more detailed look at everything contained in the bill, read this.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: AL to Host Lt. Governors Association Meeting

The National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) will meet in Baldwin County in August as the nation’s lieutenant governors and other seconds-in-command gather for the association’s first in-person meeting since 2019. The meeting will convene state “No. 2s” from across the country to discuss policy ideas and best practices. “Tourism is a top industry in our state, employing more than 200,000 workers in 2019,” said Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth. The NLGA meeting in Point Clear will generate an estimated economic impact of more than $300,000. Ainsworth noted that the meeting will bolster the state economy and bring attention to the region and the state, which is especially important following the damage COVID-19 did to tourism along the Gulf Coast and in other areas. NLGA was founded in 1962, and this will be only the second time Alabama has hosted an annual meeting of the association. The last time was in 1975.

 

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: AL Will Soon Learn Census Fate

Will Alabama lose a Congressional seat? That’s been in question for some time, and the answer will soon be here. Based on the final count of the 2020 Census, Alabama will either keep its current number of representatives (7) in D.C. or lose one. The population numbers from the recent census will be sent to President Biden on April 30. Right now, estimates from the census show that Alabama will, just barely, maintain status quo, which, if proven accurate once official numbers are released, is great news. But it’s not just our state’s voice in Congress that’s at stake. Alabama’s population determines other things too, including how much federal money comes our way for schools, infrastructure and hospitals. The state isn’t actually losing residents, but it is not growing at the same explosive rate as other Southern states.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: AL Medical Marijuana Bill Headed to House

The House Health Committee approved legislation by Senator Tim Melson that would create a medical cannabis program in the state. The Senate-passed measure now heads to the full House for a vote. Melson’s bill would allow the use of medical cannabis for more than a dozen conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, depression, sickle-cell anemia and chronic pain. The legislation would allow cannabis to be administered as capsules, tablets, gelatins and vaporized oils. Smokingvaping or consuming cannabis in the form of edibles would be banned. Physicians would need to complete education and training to dispense medical cannabis, and patients would need a recommendation from a physician to obtain it. Patients would also need to apply for a cannabis card, costing no more than $65. Cannabis would only be obtainable through licensed dispensaries, which would be forbidden from advertising or marketing products. The bill would also create a state medical cannabis commission to regulate licensing and cultivation of medical cannabis. Before it passed the Health Committee, there was debate. Read some of what proponents and opponents had to say, here.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Senate Passes Delayed Implementation of Alabama Literacy Program

The Alabama Senate passed a bill that would postpone implementation of a plan to require children to pass a third-grad competency test before being admitted to fourth grade. SB 94 is sponsored by state Senator Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham. Under a plan passed by the legislature in 2019, students unable to show proficiency on third-grade level skills would be forced to repeat the third grade. Under current law, current second graders would need to test at grade level when they take end-of-year testing in 2022.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Senate Passes GOP-Backed Bill to Block New Federal Gun Laws

The Alabama Senate passed a bill that would make it a crime for state and local officials to enforce any new gun-control laws or regulations from the Biden administration or Congress. The bill by Senator Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa is one of several bills in the legislature that are aimed at blocking enforcement of any new federal gun-control measures. Similar laws are being proposed in other states. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 21-5, and it now moves to the House. Senators speaking in opposition to the bill say that the measure violates the supremacy clause that says federal law supersedes state law.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Aniah’s Law Goes on Statewide Ballot

The Alabama Legislature approved “Aniah’s Law” last week. The bill is named after Aniah Blanchard who was kidnapped and killed. Aniah’s Law is a constitutional amendment sponsored by Rep. Chip Brown of Mobile that allows prosecutors and judges broader discretion in requesting and denying bail to those accused of committing violent crimes. The man accused of killing Aniah was already facing serious offenses but was out on bond at the time of her murder. The amendment will now go on the statewide ballot for ratification by voters in a referendum election.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: ABC Board Preparing for New Alcohol Delivery Law

Thanks to legislation passed last week, on October 1, anyone in the state of Alabama who is 21 or older can purchase alcohol to be delivered right to their doorstep. The ABC Board is looking at how to enforce this and how to draft the rules. Businesses will have to complete an application and pay $350 in fees. According to the ABC Board, daily maximum quantities are as follows: beer may not exceed 288 ounces per customer; wine may be sold in any size container, provided the total amount delivered does not exceed 9,000 milliliters per customer; spirits may be sold in any size bottle, provided the total amount delivered does not exceed 9,000 milliliters per customer; and restaurants may not exceed 375 milliliters per customer. All alcohol deliveries from restaurants must also be accompanied by a meal.

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