March 1, 2021 Group Watch: AL Dept of Commerce Launches “RurAl”

The Alabama Department of Commerce is launching a new digital marketing campaign — “RurAl” — which includes a website that focuses on rural Alabama as a great place for doing business and the source of valuable products in demand around the world. The centerpiece of the “RurAl” campaign, the content-rich website showcases the business advantages of the state’s rural communities and shares the success stories that energize their economies. The online platform will also serve as a hub for information and resources to assist economic developers working in Alabama’s rural counties, adding a new dimension to Commerce’s strategic effort to enhance the competitiveness of those areas for job-creating projects.

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: Medical Marijuana Bill Back

A bill to legalize and regulate marijuana in Alabama is now in the hands of the House of Representatives. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said he will send the bill through the Judiciary and Health Committees. It is rare for a bill to go through more than one committee before coming to the House floor. The 86-page bill passed the Senate this week. Alabama would become the 37th state to allow products made from marijuana to be used for medical purposes. Senator Tim Melson, who sponsored the Senate-passed bill, is a medical researcher and anesthesiologist who opposes recreational marijuana use. He said his bill would make it a felony to divert medical marijuana products from a patient to others.

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: DOD Launches Aerospace Research at Tuskegee University

The U.S. Department of Defense has launched an Aerospace Education Research and Innovation Center at Tuskegee University, enhancing research in critical areas and expanding the future technical talent pipeline for the industry. The DOD said Tuskegee will support two-year research projects in the areas of fatigue damage tolerance, experimental aerodynamics and the performance of materials and components under extreme environmental conditions. The research center is being established at an institution that was home to the Tuskegee Airmen, and $2 million in funding was sponsored by U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: Our Condolences

All of us at The Bloom Group would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to Representative Steve Clouse and his family on the loss of his father this week.

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: AL Getting More COVID Vaccines

During a COVID-19 update, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the state is seeing an average delivery of about 90-100,000 does a week. There are 1.5 million residents eligible, which requires 3 million doses. According to Dr. Harris, more than 800,000 people have received their first shot, and 77 percent of doses received so far have been administered. Since the pandemic was first discovered in the state in March 2020, Alabama has reported 490,220 cases, 9,744 deaths and 45,250 hospitalizations.

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: School Sports Legislation

A bill addressing a topic making news all over the country passed out of committee last Wednesday. Rep Scott Stadhagen’s (R-Hartselle) bill requires that public school students only compete in athletic competitions aligning with the gender that appears on their birth certificate. Read the full text of HB391 here.

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: No-Go on Distracted Driving Bill

Last week, several House members put the breaks on HB 90, a bill that would prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. They said they worry the bill is too broad. According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. K. L. Brown (R-Jacksonville), it is designed to save lives. She noted that similar bills passed in other states have decreased accidents attributed to distracted driving. While the bill prohibits holding a cellphone while driving, it also includes language that prohibits the use of voice commands on phones while driving. When concerns were raised on this portion, Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) said he would work with Brown to remove it. Another concern raised was how to enforce the law. Faced with these questions, Brown requested the bill be carried over, which means the bill can be brought back up during this session. Read the full text of HB90 here. 

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: Food With Furry Friends

Rep. Steve McMillan (R-Gulf Shores) recently introduced a bill that overrules several city and county statutes that prohibit dogs (other than service animals) from eating with their owners at restaurants. The bill lets restaurant owners decide their own rules and policies concerning the presence of dogs. There are some restrictions: The law would only apply to  restaurants that have outdoor space that is accessible without walking the dog through its indoor dining area. Read the full text of HB235 here. 

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: “Aniah’s Law” Through House

With unanimous votes, two bills to create “Aniah’s Law” passed the House last week and now move to the Senate. Both bills allow judges increased discretion when deciding to grant or deny bail for people charged with violent crimes. “Aniah’s Law” is named for 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, who was kidnapped and murdered in Auburn in October 2019 by a suspect free on bond from another kidnapping case at the time he abducted and killed Blanchard. Read the full text of one of the bills here.

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: License Plate Bill Out of Senate

A bill that allows the use of automated license plate recognition systems on public highways by law enforcement agencies passed the Senate last week and now goes to the House. SB2 is sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and lets law enforcement use technology to record car license plates in an effort to track criminals. It has raised some privacy concerns, but the bill states that, “law enforcement agencies may not sell license plate recognition data for any purpose and may not make the data available to any agency, corporation, or association that is not a law enforcement agency nor to any individual who is not a law enforcement officer.” Read the full text of SB2 here.

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