March 8, 2021 Group Watch: Military Friendly Package Heads to Gov. Ivey

The legislature has taken a step toward making the state more friendly to military members and their families. A package of bills passed in the House last week will now go to Governor Ivey to be signed into laws. Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, chair of the state’s Military Stability Commission, noted how important Alabama’s federal military bases are to local economies and the state’s economy and said the bills show that the state values current bases and is “ready for even more expansion and investment.” See Ainsworth’s tweet above and read more here.

March 8, 2021 Group Watch: Vote on Lottery & Casino Bill This Week

Despite some detail tweaks still in progress, a vote on gambling in Alabama is coming this week, according to Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) who is sponsoring a bill that would allow a lottery and up to 10 casino locations in the state. If the bill passes both the Senate and House, it will appear on the ballot, letting the people of Alabama cast their vote and make the ultimate decision on the issue. Read more here.

March 8, 2021 Group Watch: AL Could Reach Herd Immunity in May

An epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham projected that the country, and Alabama, could reach herd immunity to COVID-19 as early as May or June. Dr. Suzanne Judd said her calculations are based on the current pace of delivering COVID-19 vaccines and a recent study from Columbia University that estimated more than a third of the U.S. population may have already been infected with the virus by the end of January. Herd immunity occurs when the virus cannot spread through a population uncontrolled because enough members of the population have some kind of immunity, either from a vaccine or from antibodies if they had the disease and recovered. There is a strong belief that a large but unknown number of people who got the virus were never tested. Judd says that although there is no magical number for herd immunity, her calculations are based on a threshold of getting immunity in 72 percent of the population.

March 8, 2021 Group Watch: Broadband Expansion Passes Senate

A bill to create the Alabama Digital Expansion Authority made it through the Senate last week without a single “nay” vote. The Authority that SB215 establishes will help ensure all parts of Alabama, including currently underserved (mostly rural) areas, have access to high-speed internet. Proponents point to high-speed internet as an essential element of increased economic development. The Authority will also be charged with determining the most cost-effective way to expand access. Read the bill’s full text here.

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Last week marked the third week of the 2021 regular session, and many expected a Senate vote on gambling legislation. That didn’t happen. Yet. Senator Del Marsh announced that he is continuing to work on the measure and doesn’t expect to bring the bill to the floor for at least two weeks. The proposed constitutional amendment requires 21 votes to clear the Senate. Here are details on the other activity last week.
  • Tuesday, February 23 (7th legislative day): The House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee approved a Senate-passed bill relating to elder abuse and a House-sponsored bill to further define the types of foster family homes. The House County and Municipal Government Committee approved a Senate-passed bill to authorize counties and municipalities to provide solid waste services to the public and to charge and collect fees for the services. The House approved several bills, including bills to provide for sexual assault victim notification and to create the Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights; to establish the Seizure Safe Schools Act; to require a child successfully complete kindergarten before being admitted to first grade; and to revise the bid laws relating to solid waste collection and disposal. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill to further define the types of foster family homes. The Senate debated a number of measures before carrying them over, but passed a bill establishing privacy protections for coronavirus contact tracing.
  • Wednesday, February 24 (8th legislative day and a committee day): The House Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee approved the continuation of 27 state boards, agencies and commissions to include the Onsite Wastewater Board, Home Builders Licensure Board and Interior Designers Board. The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved a bill to exempt airport authorities from sales and use tax. The House Education Policy Committee approved a bill to create a public K-12 Teacher Bill of Rights. The House passed several bills of local application only and a bill to allow class 5 municipalities to place property liens under certain conditions to recover costs of grass and weed abatement. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved bills to grant sovereign immunity to the School of Cyber Technology and Engineering; to expand the expungement of criminal records to include convictions of certain misdemeanor offenses; and to provide for professional services for design professionals. The Senate passed for the third time in as many years a measure to allow use of medical cannabis for certain health conditions.
  • Thursday, February 25 (9th legislative day): The House passed 27 bills relating to the continuation of specific boards, agencies, and commissions. They also passed a House-sponsored bill to authorize the Revenue Department to exempt airport authorities from sales and use tax and a Senate-passed bill to require redaction of contract information from court documents released to the public of an elderly person. The Senate passed several bills, including measures to further provide for consumer protection relating to deceptive trade practices and pyramid sale structures; the Building Exceptional School Board Team Act for local boards of education; and to authorize community paramedicine programs through the State Board of Health.
The House and Senate reconvene on Tuesday, February 23 at 1 PM and 2 PM, respectively.

March 1, 2021 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

@willainsworthAL
Feb 26

After discussions with my wife, Kendall, and prayerful consideration, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Because our twin boys and daughter are young and need a father who is present and deeply involved in their lives.
I feel strongly that God’s plan currently calls for me to continue leading on the state, not federal, level of government. The encouragement to run that I have received from every corner of the state is humbling, and the support of my fellow Alabamians is deeply appreciated.
Sen. Shelby has served Alabama well, and his shadow will loom large over all those who run to fill his seat. As lieutenant governor, I will continue seeking conservative solutions to the problems facing Alabama and will keep working each day to bring more jobs, hope, and opportunities to the citizens of our state.

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.

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