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.

April 12, 2021 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The eighth week of the 2021 regular session of the Alabama Legislature wrapped up last week.

Gambling was back on the table, with Governor Ivey reiterating her desire to let Alabama residents express their thoughts on the matter with their vote.

And education was a headline, thanks to Senator Del Marsh’s “Open Schools Act” bill.

A detailed roundup of daily activity in both chambers is below, followed by articles and updates on specific legislation and other #alpolitics topics.

The House and Senate return on April 13 at 1 and 1:30 pm respectively.

  • Tuesday, April 6 (19th legislative day): The Senate Education Policy Committee approved House-passed bills to require mental health awareness to be included in the annual training session for employees of each K-12 school and to establish the Extended Learning Opportunities Act, creating opportunities for public K-12 classroom credits for learning experiences outside of the typical classroom setting. The committee also approved a bill to create the Open Schools Act. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved House-passed bills to: designate the authority to manage the construction and renovation of property that is part of a state educational institution; create a database to maintain law enforcement information and provide civil protections for background checks and pre-employment checks; and further provide for security of the Alabama State House by the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency. The House passed several bills of local application only and a general bill allowing governing bodies of certain municipalities to set compensation for municipal utility boards. The Senate passed a number of bills of local application only and House-passed bills to: create Aniah’s law and provide for an additional offense under which an individual can be denied bail; and further provide for definitions of types of foster family homes. It also passed bills relating to engineers and other design professional and their contracts for professional services and to provide procedural due process protections for K-12 students for suspensions and expulsions.
  • Wednesday, April 7 (20th legislative day and a committee day): The House Commerce and Small Business Committee approved bills to suspend the tobacco permits in cases of failure by retailers to pay distributors, which has already passed the Senate, and to further provide for contracts of engineers and other design professionals. The House Education Committee approved a bill to require local boards of education to post information relating to work-based learning opportunities to parents and students. The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved a bill to provide for tuition reimbursement for transition and postsecondary programs for children of disabled veterans with intellectual disabilities. The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee approved a House-passed bill to require electronic monitoring for certain inmates upon release by Pardons and Parole Board. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a House-passed bill to authorize local boards of education to offer yoga as an elective to students in K-12 and a bill to prohibit certain defendants from being granted bail. The House passed several bills relating to the Alabama Board of Registration for Foresters relating to continuing education requirements, call meetings of the Board and the sale of nominal marketing materials. They also passed bills to require healthcare facilities to allow one caregiver or visitor to patients or residents, subject to reasonable restrictions, and require hospitals to bill an injured person’s health insurance and only seek compensation from health insurance when certain circumstances apply, clarifying hospital lien provisions. The Senate passed a bill establishing the Alabama Lottery Commission, its powers and duties and the distribution of proceeds.
  • Thursday, April 8 (21st legislative day): The House Health Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee approved bills to provide limitations of liability for certain regional mental health entities and the directors and employees. The House passed several bills of local application only as well as Senate-passed bills to create the COVID-19 Recovery Capital Credit Protection Act of 2021 and provide for standardized statewide issuance and information management of concealed carry permits. The Senate passed bills to provide for the use of hazardous duty time to calculate years of services for in-service death benefits for firefighters, law enforcement and correctional officers and to provide subsistence pay for law enforcement officers employed by the Department of Revenue.

April 12, 2021 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

April 9
Former Gov. Robert Bentley founds ‘Great State Alabama’ nonprofit to support rural, underserved areas


April 12, 2021 Group Watch: Committee Approves Bill Requiring Creation of Open Enrollment Policies

The Senate Education Policy Committee voted 7-3 to approve a bill by Senator Del Marsh requiring school districts to create open enrollment policies. The students transferring would need to pay a fee specified by the school district, according to the sponsor. Marsh said there are exceptions. For example, school districts don’t have to accept new students if there is a lack of space or if the students don’t meet certain requirements. According to Marsh, 47 states have open enrollment policies. Groups representing school boards and superintendents spoke against the bill at the committee. They said the bill runs into legal problems since it outlines that a district can deny enrollment if it does not have the facilities for a special needs stude

April 12, 2021 Group Watch: Legislature Passes Alcohol Delivery Bill

Cheers! The legislature is sending a bill to Governor Ivey that allows  alcohol to be delivered to people’s homes. The measure allows beer, wine and spirits to be shipped directly to consumers. Only those 21 and older would be allowed to order and receive the alcohol. The bill creates a licensing procedure and limits how much alcohol someone can have shipped to them.

April 12, 2021 Group Watch: House Passes Bill to Define Timing for New Election Laws

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent the State of Alabama from implementing any legislative changes to election procedures within six months of a general election. Since the legislation proposes an amendment to the state’s constitution, it requires approval by a majority of Alabama voters if it makes it through the legislative process. The bill comes as Republicans nationwide have expressed concern with the actions of states such as Pennsylvania, which continually tweaked its election procedures until very shortly before the 2020 general election. The entire text of the bill is as follows: “The implementation date for any bill enacted by the Legislature in a calendar year in which a general election is held and relating to the conduct of the general election shall be at least six months before the general election.”

April 12, 2021 Group Watch: Ivey Issues “Safer Apart” Order

As the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to plummet (see next article) and the statewide mask order has expired, the state of emergency over COVID-19 remains. Late last week, Governor Ivey announced her new Safer Apart Order, which encourages people to wear masks and practice social distancing. Mask wearing will not be mandated in the new order, but it does require quarantine for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and maintains some restrictions on hospital visitations. So far, Montgomery and Birmingham have extended their citywide mask mandates beyond the expiration of the statewide order. Ivey said that businesses have the right to set their own requirements. The state recently made vaccines available to all Alabamians 16 and older, and clinical trials of vaccines for children are still ongoing.

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