February 21, 2022 Group Watch: House Committee Advances Transgender Bill

The House Education Policy Committee has advanced legislation that would ban transgender students from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. The committee approved a bill that would require K-12 students statewide to use facilities that match the gender on their original birth certificate. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Scott Stadthagen, said the bill is about protecting students and preventing sexual predators from being able to enter bathrooms. Opponents say the bill discriminates against transgender youth and puts them at risk, under the guise of safety. The bill is now in position for consideration by the full House.

February 21, 2022 Group Watch: Senate Passes Bill to Allow Space National Guard Within AL National Guard

A measure authorizing the inclusion of a Space National Guard within the Alabama National Guard passed in the Alabama Senate last week. The bill, sponsored by Senator Tom Butler of Madison, does not create an Alabama Space Guard, but allows for its creation if Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense authorize National Guard components within the U.S. Space Force, a potential aspect of the newly created branch discussed since its formation. The most recent National Defense Authorization Act did not include funds for the creation of a Space National Guard. The Congressional Budget Office report estimates a Space National Guard could cost upwards of $100 to $490 million each year.

February 14, 2022 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

With the 2022 regular session in full swing, a lot of work got done at the State House last week. The Senate approved bills to bring about a major expansion of broadband throughout the state. And bills related to the loosening of some current state alcohol laws made it through both the House and Senate.

And some big news was handed down from the U.S. Supremer Court; it ruled to allow current congressional district lines in the state to stand, at least for now. The decision, which came last week, put on hold a lower court ruling calling for new redistricting. The Court will consider whether current districts are in violation of the Voting Rights Law at a later date, and that decision will have ripple effects beyond Alabama’s borders.

More on this and last week’s legislative happenings is below.

The House and Senate return on Tuesday, February 15 at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m, respectively.

February 14, 2022 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

Feb 8
The League commends Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature for their diligence in allocating funds from the American Rescue Plan Act towards quality of life endeavors for Alabama’s citizens.

February 14, 2022 Group Watch: Legislature Day-by-Day, Play-by-Play

Tuesday, 7th day of regular session: 

  • The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved several bills, including bills to declare that emergency medical services are essential public services; to authorize governmental boards to meet by electronic means; and to allow for issuance of garnishment writs by certified or standard mail.
  • The House passed several bills of local application only and general bills to allow the establishment entertainment districts under certain conditions; to revise the membership of the Women’s Hall of Fame Board and to authorize them to meet electronically on some matters; to allow for the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption in approved containers; and to establish the Natural Death Act that enables certification of a surrogate to make end-of-life healthcare decisions, and to remove the notarization requirement.
  • The Senate passed several general bills without objection, including bills to increase the optional standard deduction amount and increase the adjusted gross income range allowable for maximum optional standard and dependent; to authorize class 1 municipalities to establish entertainment districts under certain conditions; to establish the Alabama Airport Economic and Infrastructure Program; and to prohibit issuance of scrip in bearer form.
Wednesday, 8th day of regular session:
  • The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee approved several bills including bills to require the Alcohol Beverage Control board to license food trucks in class 1 municipalities to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption and to provide that table wine licensees may disperse wine for off-premise consumption in approved containers.
  • The House Education Policy Committee approved a few bills, including one to further provide for membership and duties of the Literacy Task Force.
  • The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee approved a bill to establish the State Employee Retirees Fund Funding Act for periodic bonuses.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee approved bills including those to change the meeting requirements for the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission and to require the Department of Human Resources to establish and maintain the Alabama Elder and Adult in Need of Protectives Services Abuse Registry.
  • The Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved a bill to increase minimum threshold speeds for broadband service grants.
  • The House passed a few bills of local application only and several general bills, including bills to further provide for persons in need of care for mental illness; to further provide for posthumous pardons; and to provide for a central registry of elder citizens requiring adult protective services.
  • The Senate passed a number of general bills, including bills to allow governmental bodies to hold virtual meetings; to provide for the declaration of emergency medical services for a public purpose; and to allow writs of garnishment to be issued by regular or certified mail.
Thursday, 9th day of regular session:
  • The House passed a number of bills of local application only and general bills to clarify that emergency management personnel provide essential public safety services; to authorize alcoholic beverage retailers to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption thru walk-up and drive-thru facilities; and a Senate-passed bill to further provide for penalties for the crime of unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure.
  • The Senate passed several general bills, including bills to establish a minimum threshold to enter broadband service contracts; to authorize the state, county or a municipal entity to grant certain monies for broadband infrastructure; and to require the establishment and maintenance of a statewide registry for elders requiring adult protective care services.

February 14, 2022 Group Watch: AL Senate Approves Package of Broadband Bills

The Alabama Senate approved three bills to support broadband expansion over the next several years. The bills sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield would increase minimum broadband speeds for grant programs administered by the state, allow governmental entities to apply for grants and allow counties to direct money for broadband services to private companies. The legislature plans to spend $276 million of the state’s share of the first round of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to expand broadband, long a goal of the business community and officials in the state. Additional ARPPA are expected to come to the state later this spring.

February 14, 2022 Group Watch: Supreme Court Sides with GOP in Alabama Election Map Case

The U.S. Supreme Court put on hold a lower court ruling saying that Alabama must draw new congressional districts before the 2022 elections to increase Black voting power. The court order boosts Republican chances to hold six of the state’s seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The court’s action, by a 5-4 vote, means the upcoming elections will be conducted under a map drawn by Alabama’s Republican-controlled legislature, a map that contains one majority-Black district, represented by a Black Democrat, in a state in which more than a quarter of the population is Black. The justices will at some later date decide whether the map produced by the state violates the landmark voting rights law, a case that could call into question previous  precedent. The decision will presumably govern elections in 2024 through the end of the decade in Alabama and could affect minority political representation elsewhere in the country.

February 14, 2022 Group Watch: Commerce Dept. Taps Christina Stimson to Lead International Trade Efforts

The Alabama Commerce Department announced that Christina Stimpson, an international business professional with experience in export promotion, foreign direct investment strategy and business recruitment, will take the helm of the department’s Office of International Trade. Stimpson comes to Commerce from the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, where she worked in high-ranking international trade and economic development roles. She was with the Mobile Chamber for 13 years, most recently serving as director of economic development, beginning in December 2020. Stimpson is a graduate of Auburn University and completed the basic economic development course at Georgia Institute of Technology. She serves on the boards of Global USA at the University of South Alabama, the Japan American Society of Alabama, the Alabama World Trade Association and the Alabama District Export Council. She starts her new role February 16.

February 14, 2022 Group Watch: USDA Invests $360M to Build Hospital to Serve Rural Residents

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $360 million in the Medical West Hospital Authority to build a state-of-the-art 200-bed hospital in McCalla. The new Medical West Hospital will serve more than 300,000 rural people in west Jefferson County, Tuscaloosa County and other surrounding rural communities. The 405,186-square-foot facility will feature a 26-room emergency department, 12 operating rooms, eight labor and delivery rooms and eight multipurpose rooms. The project is part of the USDA’s total investment of $1 billion to build and improve critical community facilities in Alabama and 47 other states, as well as Puerto Tico and Guam.

February 14, 2022 Group Watch: Lt. Governor Ainsworth Clearly Voices Support for School Choice

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth left little doubt where he stood on the school choice debate during a recent radio program, saying  that school choice is “the right thing to do” and “I support school choice 100 percent.” He added he thinks it is needed in Alabama. His declaration came as the legislature is considering a school-choice bill brought by Senator Del Marsh in the Senate and Rep. Charlotte Meadows in the House. Ainsworth defended accepting contributions from the Alabama Education Association, a teachers’ union, noting that while he is an advocate for school choice, he also sees merit in having strong public schools in Alabama.

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