May 6, 2024 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

A good bit of education-related legislation moved forward last week. The Senate approved a bill to create the state’s first health-focused high school. A bill restricting instruction on LGBTQ topics in public schools passed the House.  And a bill designed to ensure Alabama students are taught the dangers of fentanyl was approved by the Senate and now awaits Governor Ivey’s signature. 

Plus, the gambling saga continues. Bills to create a lottery and 10 casinos just narrowly failed in the Senate. Leaders say there is a chance the legislation will come up for another vote before session ends. Stay tuned. 

Find more details and info on other important #alpolitics news below.

May 6, 2024 Group Watch: Post of the Week

May 2
The Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences is coming to Demopolis! I commend those of the Legislature who supported this important project, and I appreciate the support from Demopolis, healthcare systems & hospitals across our state. This is a major investment. #alpolitics

May 6, 2024 Group Watch: Day-by-Day, Play-by-Play

Tuesday, 26th day: 

  • The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee approved a Senate-passed bill to provide for the establishment of research and development corridors to support economic development activities using state, federal and other public support. 
  • The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee approved bills to authorize the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to facilitate and coordinate the development, improvement, maintenance, and construction of inland ports and transfer facilities within the state; to provide for a cost-of-living increase for state employees; and passed the General Fund Budget for the support and operation of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and for non-state agencies such as the Coalition for Domestic Violence. 
  • The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved the Education Trust Fund budget for the support, maintenance and development of public education to include K-12, Community College System and four-year colleges and universities; to provide for a salary increase for K-12 education employees; a supplemental appropriation to the Advancement and Technology Fund for the current fiscal year; appropriations to non-state institutions such as Talladega College and Tuskegee University; and to create the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences in Demopolis, Alabama. 
  • The Senate saw a large number of sunset bills clear their final hurdle, including the continuation of the Alabama Real Estate Commission, the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Board and the Department of Insurance. It also passed a bill to abolish The Department of Public Health and the State Board of Health and transfer its duties to the State Committee of Public Health.

Wednesday, a committee day:

  • The House Education Policy Committee approved Senate-passed bills to establish a School Security Program for public K-12 schools; to further provide for schools in Class 1 municipalities under the Alabama Accountability Act; and to authorize school chaplains for K-12 public schools. 
  • The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved Senate-passed bills to further provide for companies under the Alabama Jobs Act; to provide tax considerations of Precious Metal Bullion in Alabama; and to authorize certain state matching capital loans under the Alabama Rural, Agribusiness and Opportunity Zone act, subject to appropriation. 
  • The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved bills to provide for a benefit adjustment for certain retirees of the Employees and Teachers Retirement Systems; to provide for certain entities to qualify for tax credits under the federal New Markets Tax Credit program; to provide for a sale and use tax exemption for certain infant and feminine hygiene products; and to establish the Alabama Workforce Housing Tax Credit Act.

Thursday, 27th day: 

  • The House passed the General Fund budget providing for the ordinary expenses of the executive legislative and judicial branches of government and bills to revise the date for submissions to qualify to be on the ballot for the 2024 general election and to increase the civil and criminal penalties for employers who violate child labor laws. 
  • The Senate passed the Education Trust Fund budget and supplemental appropriations for certain agencies for the current fiscal year; the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences Bill; appropriations for certain non-state entities such as the Southern Preparatory Academy, Talladega College and Tuskegee University; and a teacher pay raise for K-12 public school employees.

May 6, 2024 Group Watch: Healthcare-Focused High School Coming Soon

The Alabama Legislature gave final approval to a plan to create a residential, public high school in Demopolis that’s focused on educating future healthcare professionals. The tuition-free school will be open to students from around the state. The school could open as early as the fall of 2026. In January, Bloomberg Philanthropies pledged $26.4 million to the school, pending state investment. In February, Governor Ivey proposed spending $30 million from a supplemental education spending bill on the project, but the House committee reduced the amount to $20 million. Governor Ivey has already signed into law the enabling legislation.

May 6, 2024 Group Watch: Gambling Bills Don’t Clear Senate Hurdle

A plan to authorize an Alabama lottery and 10 casinos fell one vote short of approval in the Alabama Senate last week. The gambling legislation included two bills, HB151 and HB152. Both were compromise versions of bills that had passed the House and Senate with differences earlier in the session. A conference committee of three senators and three representatives agreed unanimously on a compromise that was approved by the House but failed by one vote in the Senate. Only three meeting days are left in the 2024 Regular Session, but according to Senate leaders, there remains a chance the matter can be voted on again before the legislative session ends. 

May 6, 2024 Group Watch: Senate Approves Bill to Teach Students Dangers of Fentanyl

The Alabama Senate unanimously approved legislation to require Alabama public K-12 schools to instruct students about the dangers of fentanyl. It now goes to Governor Ivey for her signature. The bill adds fentanyl language to the current K-12 school drug education policy in response to a situation in Auburn a few years ago. The bill is named for Price Hornsby,  a 17-year-old recent graduate of Auburn High School who was awaiting an opportunity to serve in the armed services. He was having trouble sleeping and took a pill from someone with whom he attended school. He unknowingly ingested fentanyl, which resulted in his death. Proponents of the bill hope that implementation will be expedited and that information can be added to the curriculum for the 2024/2025 school year.

May 6, 2024 Group Watch: Bills Restricting Discussion of LGBTQ Topics in Public Schools Advance

Two bills that would limit LGBTQ topics and sex education in Alabama classrooms are advancing for a final vote in the legislature. A Senate committee voted along party lines to approve a bill that would update the state’s sex education curriculum and another that would prevent K-8 grade teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics in the classroom. Since 2021, at least 22 states have considered legislation limiting in-school discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Education Week.

May 6, 2024 Group Watch: Bills Requiring Safe Firearm Storage Move Forward

A divided House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that could subject parents who do not safely secure firearms to criminal penalties. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state’s firearm mortality was 26.4 per 100,000 people in 2021, trailing only Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico. Under the bill, gun owners would be required to secure their firearms with trigger locks or in a gun safe so that children can’ t access them. A parent or guardian whose child carried an unsecured firearm to school could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine. The legislation creates an exception for the parent if the child uses the firearm in self-defense and when children are hunting or participating in target shoot competitions.

April 29, 2024 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The 2024 regular session of the Alabama Legislature is starting to wind down, but there’s still a lot happening. The House passed a bill expanding a 2022 bill that restricts teachers in public schools from teaching about sexuality and gender identity. The House also passed a bill aimed at curtailing union activity in the state’s businesses.

And Governor Ivey is having a good week; she remains one of the best-liked governors in the country, ranking 5th most popular.

Find more details and info on other important #alpolitics news below.

April 29, 2024 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

April 22
Ivey signs anti-child trafficking bill

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