April 5, 2021 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week


March 31


April 5, 2021 Group Watch: Consideration of Changes to ADPH, State Health Officer Pushed to 2022

In February, State Senator Jim McClendon introduced legislation that would reconstitute the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and remake the agency’s leadership. McClendon, the chair of the Senate Health Committee, proposed abolishing the State Board of Health and the State Health Officer. The bill would create a Secretary of the Alabama Department of Public Health, appointed by the governor. House Health Committee Chair Rep. Paul Lee is also considering options to deal with the agency and the role of the State Health Officer. Lee does not think a fair assessment of the agency can be made under the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lee prefers to wait until the 2022 legislative session to consider changes to the state government executive branch’s role in public health.

April 5, 2021 Group Watch: April Weaver Wins Senate Special Election Primary

April Weaver, a former state representative and ex-Trump administration official, handily won the special election Republican primary for a central Alabama Senate seat over two other contenders. Weaver, who left the legislature in May 2020 to become Regional Director for region IV of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration, won the special election with 82 percent of the vote. Weaver defeated Republicans Donna Strong, who received 11 percent of the vote, and Joseph Barlow, who received 7 percent of the vote.

April 5, 2021 Group Watch: Gov. Ivey Visits Alabama Sites Hit by Deadly Tornadoes

Governor Kay Ivey toured sites in Alabama where tornadoes upended homes and lives, killing five and laying a path of destruction across the state. Ivey conveyed the grief all Alabamians share for the families and their losses, and that their hearts and prayers go out to all who lost loved ones. Ivey toured sites in Calhoun, Shelby, and Hale counties. Governor said state officials are still gathering a tally of damages to seek federal assistance and emphasized the importance for those who suffered damage to reach out to local authorities and report damage.

April 5, 2021 Group Watch: Ainsworth Won’t Run for Governor Against Ivey

On Friday, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said he will not run for governor if Governor Kay Ivey decides to seek another term. Ivey said she’s not yet made a decision about running, noting her “plate is full” with COVID-19 vaccine distribution, prison reform and other issues facing the state. If Ivey does run again, Ainsworth said he will seek a second term as Lt. Governor. Read more here.

April 5, 2021 Group Watch: Alabama House Approves Alcohol Delivery & Wine Shipment Bills

The Alabama House approved a bill that would allow delivery of beer, wine and liquor to individuals on a 79-12 vote. The chamber approved a second bill to allow direct shipment of wine to Alabama residents on an 83-7 vote. The alcohol delivery bill goes to the Senate, which approved it on February 11, for concurrence or a conference committee, as the House made changes its language to make it clear that brewpubs, distilleries and winemakers are included. The wine shipment bill also goes to the Senate for committee and a vote. Deliveries would be limited to people 21 and older, and payments would be processed before delivery could take place. Those seeking an alcohol delivery license would have to pay a $100 application fee and a license fee of $250.

April 5, 2021 Group Watch: Committee Advances Repeal of Habitual Offender Law

A divided legislative committee advanced a bill to repeal Alabama’s habitual offender law that mandates longer sentences for repeat offenders. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill on a 9-5 vote. The bill would do away with the sentencing mandates for new cases and allow some prisoners to have their sentences reviewed. The bill’s sponsor said the mandatory sentences in habitual offender laws have resulted in arbitrarily long sentences.

April 5, 2021 Group Watch: House Passes Bill to Curb Teen Vaping & Regulate Industry

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill designed to reduce the use of vapes and e-cigarettes among young people. The bill provides for numerous regulations of the vaping and e-cigarette industry in Alabama. It would prevent vape manufacturers and retailers from using advertising techniques designed to appeal to young people, such as incorporating characters from comic books in ad campaigns. It would also prevent makers of vape pods and cartridges from claiming the taste of their product resembled “candies, cakes, or other sugary treats.” The bill would require the Alabama Department of Revenue to build and maintain a directory of businesses that sell and manufacture vape cartridges, e-liquids and any alternative nicotine product in Alabama. It would require the relevant businesses to pay for certification in the directory. Each business entity that deals with vaping would have to pay the state an initial $3,000 certification fee, and each subsequent year would have to pay a $500 renewal for continued certification. Funds from the fees would go to implementing and maintaining the directory.

April 5, 2021 Group Watch: New Classrooms Funded by Pre-K

Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education announced that 34 new classrooms will be funded through the Pre-K through 3rd Grade Integrated Approach to Early Learning (P-3). This will bring the number of classrooms impacted by P-3 to 208, covering 21 counties. The new program sites are located in Cullman, Montgomery, St. Clair, Dallas, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston counties. Currently 3,022 children are impacted by the P-3 program. With the addition of 34 new classrooms, more than 3,600 students will be participating in the program in the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

April 5, 2021 Group Watch: Senate Committee Deadlocks on Lifting K-12 Yoga Ban

The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on legislation that would lift the 1993 prohibition on yoga in schools after testimony from Christian conservatives who claim it would lead to proselytizing in public schools by followers of Hinduism. The House-passed bill would give Alabama public schools the option of offering yoga as an elective. The legislation would limit any yoga practice to exercises; requires activities to have English names; and bans “chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, and namaste greetings.” Just weeks ago the House passed the bill 73 to 25. A procedural vote by the committee allows for the bill to be considered at a future meeting for a vote. Two senators who supported the bill were absent.

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