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January 2021 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The new year is upon us, and there’s already been a lot of activity. Vaccinations are moving ahead statewide. Preparations are being made and plans and agendas are being formed for the coming 2021 legislative session. And more positive economic development news keeps rolling in. So far, so good, 2021!
  • 2021 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature Begins Feb 2: The pandemic won’t stop the legislature this year: Representatives and senators will soon reconvene in Montgomery for the 2021 session, thanks to extensive COVID-19 protocols designed to keep legislators and all those involved in session activities safe. Despite some initial thoughts on moving locations, session will take place where it always has, at the State House. But there will be limited public access (and no gallery access), as well as mandatory mask-wearing, temperature scanners and social distancing measures for all meetings and gatherings, though in-person meetings will be limited too. Website and video streaming upgrades are in progress to facilitate more virtual work and virtual accessibility for the public.
  • AL Lawmakers Lay Out Priorities: Things will look different during this year’s legislative session, but the work of our elected representatives will go on. Some lawmakers have already announced their priorities and goals for the session. Gambling is back on the table and will likely draw plenty of debate, while issues like rural broadband access will also be at the top of the list and should enjoy bipartisan support. And COVID-related bills will also be high priority, things like tax protections for stimulus money, liability protection for businesses and additional economic incentives to aid in recovery.
  • COVID-19 Vaccines Being Distributed: Demand for the COVID-19 vaccines remains high in Alabama, and while that demand currently exceeds supply, the state recently opened up vaccines for the next group: individuals over 75 years old and first responders. This group follows frontline healthcare workers and those in nursing homes. The second group can begin receiving vaccines by appointment on January 18. State health officer Dr. Scott Harris also noted that communities are making decisions about moving on to other priority groups at the community level as they feel their reach in prior groups is adequate.

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