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March 22, 2021 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The sixth week of session (last week) included the advancement of a new state lottery bill and the Senate’s passage of the Education Trust Fund budget, as well as the House passage of a bill banning “curbside” voting for future elections in the state.
  • Tuesday, March 16 (15th legislative day)The House passed a number of bills of local application only and general bills to: apply certain sentencing provisions to certain defendants who are mandatorily released and placed under the supervision of Pardons and Paroles; provide an exemption of issuance fees under certain conditions for disabled veterans when purchasing motor vehicle license plates; provide final approval to grant tax exempt status to the School of Fine Arts Foundation, High School of Math and Science Foundation and the School of Cyber Technology and Engineering Foundation; and outline that the application of penalties for persons voting more than once includes elections held outside the state. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved a number of bills to: create the Education Retirees Trust Fund; approve a mental health services coordinator for each school system; provide additional compensation to attract math and science teachers; provide a supplemental appropriation for certain education entities; and provide a cost-of-living increase for public education employees. It also approved the education budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2021. The Senate approved several bills of local application only, and general bills to: provide exemption from sales and use tax for airport authorities; further provide for the authority for local land banks; require the State Department of Education to develop a program to address the mental health of students who are considered at-risk for developing inadequate social-behavioral skills; and further define additional types of foster family homes.
  • Wednesday, March 17 (a committee day): The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved bills to: provide for an education assistance program for the children of service persons and to establish the Math and Science Teacher Education Program. The Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee approved a Senate-passed bill to further provide for municipal elections. The Senate Children, Youth and Human Services Committee approved a House-passed bill to further define additional types of foster family homes. The Senate Education Policy Committee approved a House-passed bill revising the focus of content, course materials and instructions for sex education in public K-12 schools. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to establish the Alabama Court Cost Commission. The Senate Tourism Committee approved five bills relating to creating a state lottery and a Gaming Commission and to prohibit gaming facility operators from making campaign contributions under certain circumstances.
  • Thursday, March 18 (16th legislative day): The House passed several bills of local application only, and general bills to: prohibit K-12 athletic events allowing competition by one biological gender against another unless the event specifically includes both genders; require mental health awareness to be included in the annual training session for employees of each K-12 school; and authorize the Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment to intervene in any legal action that contests the reapportionment plan. The Senate passed several bills of local application only, and general bills to: create the Education Retirees Trust Fund Funding Act; provide a 2-percent cost-of-living increase for public education employees; and the $7.6 billion Education Trust Fund budget.
The House and Senate reconvene on Tuesday, March 30 at 1 and 2 pm respectively.

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