April 22, 2024 Group Watch: Senate Names Conference Committee Members for Gambling Legislation

The Alabama Senate appointed members of a conference committee to consider a proposed gambling package, more than two weeks after the House did so. The Senate conferees are Senator Greg Albritton; Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton and Senator Garlan Gudger. Singleton and Albritton have both been longtime supporters of gambling legislation. The House and Senate have been at odds about the scope of the proposed legislation. The House approved a bill that created a lottery; authorized casino gambling and sports betting in the state; and directed the governor to enter into a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate casinos in Atmore, Montgomery and Wetumpka. The Senate passed a stripped-down version that jettisoned everything except the lottery and the compact. Singleton said he was optimistic that something could be worked out, but it might not please all of the parties. He thinks that whatever passes will be approved by the voters.

April 22, 2024 Group Watch: House Passed “Working for Alabama” Bill Package

With support from Governor Ivey and both Republican and Democrat legislative leaders, the House passed the “Working for Alabama” bill package, a group of legislation designed to raise the state’s low workforce participation rate using education programs and tax credits to encourage the expansion of housing and childcare, the lack of which could be contributing to low participation.  All parts of the package passed without a dissenting vote. Read more here.

April 22, 2024 Group Watch: Senate Passes Bill Loosening Vaccine Regulations

The Alabama Senate approved a bill that would loosen regulations for religious exemptions for vaccines in schools. The bill, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr, passed 24-5. The bill would allow parents who have a religious objection to vaccination to declare that in a statement to the local board of education. The parent would not have to provide evidence or win the approval of the board. He said that employees at the Department of Health are not supposed to question people about their religious beliefs, though some do. Health officials have expressed concerns about declining vaccination rates in the state. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination rate in Alabama hit 94% in 2022-23, down from 95% for the 2021-22 school year. The CDC says at least 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated against measles to create herd immunity. Nine out of 10 unvaccinated people become infected after being exposed to measles.

April 22, 2024 Group Watch: Alabama Ensures Joe Biden Will be on Ballot

The Alabama Legislature worked last week to extend a deadline to ensure President Joe Biden will be able to appear on the state’s ballots come November. Due to the dates of the Democratic National Convention, without action from the legislature, the Democratic Party would have missed the deadline to submit its officially nominated presidential ticket. Read more here.

April 22, 2024 Group Watch: Gov Ivey Creates “Parental Alienation Awareness Day”

Governor Kay Ivey and State Rep. Kenneth Paschal came together to proclaim April 25 as “Parental Alienation Awareness Day” and April 21 through April 27 as “Parental Alienation Prevention Week.” The proclamation and its accompanying initiative are meant to help demonstrate the importance of allowing children to share love with both parents without any fear or guilt. The campaign also highlights the link between parental alienation and child abuse, emphasizing the mental harm children may experience as a result. An estimated 40,000 children in Alabama annually endure court-mandated visitation with one parent for only two to six days a month.

April 22, 2024 Group Watch: Alabama’s First-Class Pre-K Program Scores High Again

In the release of the national report, The 2023 State of Preschool, Alabama’s First-Class Pre-K program is once again recognized for the highest quality. Alabama is one of only five states in the country to meet 10 of 10 research-based quality standard benchmarks for 2023 and is the only state in the nation to have achieved this distinction for 18 consecutive years. The program has grown substantially over the last decade, increasing from serving 5,000 Alabama 4-year-olds in 2013 to serving more than 24,000 in 2023.

April 22, 2024 Group Watch: More Innovate Alabama Funding Awarded

Innovate Alabama announced the recipients for the fourth round of the Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant Program, awarding almost $4 million to 22 small businesses. For the first time, the Supplemental Grant Program has expanded beyond the borders of Alabama, bringing five new businesses to relocate into the state per the funding requirements, which state that grant recipients have a 12-month window after receiving grant funds to relocate their headquarters and the majority of their teams to Alabama. The five recipients are relocating from Delaware, Florida, Illinois and Wyoming. Innovate Alabama is the state’s first statewide public-private partnership focused on entrepreneurship, technology and innovation with a mission to help innovators grow roots in Alabama. The Supplemental Grant Program has awarded over $13 million to 68 entities since August, 2022.

April 15, 2024 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Happy tax day to all who celebrate (which should be most of you unless you want to hear from the IRS). Some tax news came out of the legislature last week. Despite some education groups voicing concern about reduced revenues, a bill to cap property value increases (for property tax purposes) easily passed the House on a 97-1 vote.

The health and science high school that Governor Ivey has called for and is strongly supported by leaders of Alabama’s healthcare institutions also enjoyed progress last week, sailing through the House Ways and Means Education Committee. And bills for a massive education budget were approved too.

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

April 15, 2024 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

April 11
From @ALDailyNews: “Committee approves plan for health care-focused high school in Demopolis” The Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences is what our state needs to expand rural healthcare and its workforce. Let’s get this done for Alabama! #alpolitics

April 15, 2024 Group Watch: Day-by-Day, Play-by-Play

Tuesday, 20th day: 

  • The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved several bills relating to the education budget, including supplemental appropriations for multiple agencies and the appropriations for the support, maintenance and development of public education for debt service and for capital outlay for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2025. 
  • The Senate Shelby County Legislation Committee approved a House-passed bill authorizing public library districts to further provide for the election of the library board.
  • The House passed bills to authorize dentists to access controlled substances prescription databases and to make the Department of Youth Services responsible for certain county detention facility costs under certain circumstances. 
  • The Senate passed the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking and now vaping in public places; a bill to prohibit public contracts with entities affiliated with the Peoples Republic of China; to further provide for the Alabama workforce Transformation Act; and to establish the Alabama Workforce Pathways Act that creates varying pathways for high school diplomas based on future career plans.

Wednesday, a committee day:

  • The House Education Policy Committee approved the Alabama Workforce Pathways Act to create different pathways for high school diplomas based on future career plans. 
  • The House Health Committee approved a bill designating the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission as having the sole authority over regulation, licensing and enforcement of cannabis cultivation. 
  • The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved bills to create the Alabama School of Healthcare Science; to levy an additional 1.5% SSUT to be distributed to each municipality; and to create the Alabama Workforce Housing Tax Credit. 
  • The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved a bill to require research-based instruction on fentanyl prevention and drug poisoning awareness in grades 6 through 12. 
  • The Senate Education Policy Committee approved House-passed bills to define the role of assistant principal as assisting the principal with certain duties, including student discipline; to require public K-12 schools to have an assistant principal subject to the availability of funds; and to increase the maximum compensation for members of local boards of education subject to the completion of certain continuing education requirements being met. 
  • The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee approved bills to require the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to issue an increased number of licenses to eligible applicants and to provide that the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission is primarily responsible for the regulation, licensure and enforcement of cannabis cultivation. 
  • The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved a bill to provide that the additional state sales tax rate assessed on alcoholic beverages sold in an ABC retail store shall be equal to the combined county and municipal general sales tax rate assessed to the county and municipality where the transaction occurs.

Thursday, 21st day: 

  • The House passed a number of bills including those to enhance the minimum sentence for human trafficking; expand the category for voluntary commitment to include individuals with co-occurring substance use disorder; and provide for an alternative teacher certification. 
  • The Senate passed the General Fund appropriation bill to fund non-education components of government and included supplemental appropriations for certain entities for the current year and a cost-of-living increase for state workers for the FY25. They also provided appropriations for non-state entities like Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 
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