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April 5, 2021 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The Alabama Legislature completed its seventh week of the 2021 regular session last Thursday.

Highlights at the State House included the House approval of a bill that allows direct delivery of alcohol and the shipment of wine to households, plus a pause on legislation that aims to restructure the Alabama Department of Public Health and the position of State Health Officer.

Governor Ivey spent time last week visiting areas in the state ravaged by tornadoes and severe storms.

Read on for a breakdown of daily activity and to find more details on the issues making news.

The House and Senate return on April 6 at 1 and 2:30 pm respectively.

  • Tuesday, March 30 (17th legislative day): The House passed several bills of local application only and general bills to: prohibit discrimination against disabled persons being the recipient of organ transplants; further provide for the Residential Mortgage Satisfaction Act; raise the age to buy, possess or use nicotine products to 21, and impose restrictions on marketing of certain nicotine products; and revise the timeframe for applying to vote absentee. They also gave final approval of Senate-passed bills to: exempt from sales and use tax the TWG 2021 Birmingham Foundation and to further provide for timeframes for run-off elections for municipalities. The Senate passed a bill to suspend tobacco permits in cases of failure by retailers to pay distributors.
  • Wednesday, March 31 (a committee day): The House Health Committee approved a bill to require healthcare facilities to allow one caregiver or visitor to patients or residents, subject to reasonable restrictions. The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved Senate-passed bills to: allow airport authorities to receive sales and use tax exemption and grant sovereign immunity to the School of Cyber Technology and Engineering. The House Judiciary Committee approved bills to: expand the expungement of criminal records to include convictions of certain misdemeanor and felony offenses and to increase the filing fee for expungements; create a database to maintain law enforcement information providing civil protections, providing for background checks and pre-employment checks; and establish the Alabama Court Cost Commission. The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee approved a bill to establish a uniform pay plan for judges. The Senate Education Policy Committee approved a bill to further define the physical location of a public charter school under the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to create the Alabama Public Records Act, a method of request for public records and the manner of appeal.
  • Thursday, April 1 (18th legislative day): The House passed a number of bills of local application only and general bills to: provide for the broadcast of public K-12 school sporting events; provide for the creation of the Math and Science Teacher Education Program; and establish the Extended Learning Opportunities Act for learning opportunities outside of the typical public K-12 classroom for credit. They also gave final approval to Senate-passed bills to: revise the licensure requirements for pharmacists and authorizing the Board of Pharmacy to set continuing education requirements; and further provide for and define the School Foundation Program Fund. The Senate passed bills to: provide for the standardized issuance and information management for concealed carry permits in the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA); update references to the federal motor carrier safety regulation; to further provide for the responsibility of the State Health Officer in response to an outbreak of disease; and to authorize business and religious entities to continue operation under certain conditions during an emergency.

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