March 15, 2021 Group Watch: Gov. Sets House District 78 Special Election

Governor Ivey set the special election dates for Alabama House District 78. This seat was held by Kirk Hatcher, who was elected to Alabama Senate District 26. The primary is set for Tuesday, May 25, 2021; the special primary runoff, if needed, for Tuesday, June 22, 2021; and the special general election for Tuesday, September 7, 2021. The qualifying deadline is Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 5 pm.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: House Approves $2.4 billion General Fund Budget

The Alabama House of Representative approved a $2.4 billion budget with a 2-percent pay raise for state employees and some increases to state agencies. The General Fund budget pays for most noneducation services in the state. The budget is 3.3-percet higher than the current year and includes major increases for the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Mental Health and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. The budget reflects cuts in the allocations for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), due to increased federal support for both programs.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: Grant Will Help Alabama Workers

The National Governors Association (NGA) has awarded Alabama a $100,000 Workforce Innovation Network and Workforce Innovation Fund grant to develop innovative policies for reskilling Alabamians who have been displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Governor Ivey, the goal is to provide displaced workers with all the resources needed to get back on track and build a better future. The Alabama Skills-Based Recovery Initiative is a key element of the state’s COVID-19 workforce recovery efforts. Between March 21, 2020 and January 30, 2021, more than 950,000 Alabamians filed an initial unemployment claim, signaling a critical need for assistance. This initiative will also offer technical assistance to employers for developing and deploying skills-based job descriptions that will allow companies to create customized job descriptions for their firms.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: Capitol & Governor’s Mansion Back Open

The Alabama Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion are now open to the public. “As more Alabamians voluntarily get vaccinated and our COVID-19 numbers continue in an encouraging direction, it is proper that our state capitol and governor’s mansion are once again open to the public,” Governor Ivey said.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch:

The Alabama Senate failed to get the required 21 votes to approve a measure to expand gambling and establish a lottery in the state. The vote was 19-13. Governor Ivey issued a statement after the vote saying that vote count confirms more work needs to be done and the issue is too important to not get it right. The governor said that despite the complexity and challenge of gambling, she remains committed to giving the people of Alabama the final say.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: New Bill Proposes Lottery, But No Casinos

Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) introduced a bill last week to propose a lottery only, what he calls a “clean” lottery bill. He believes (because people in his district have said as much) that the lottery-only approach is what people are most interested in when it comes to expanding gambling in Alabama. The bill is expected to be in committee next week. McClendon has tried lottery legislation more than once. Five years ago, his bill passed the Senate but did not get final approval after it was changed in the House. The legislature hasn’t approved a lottery bill since 1999, when voters rejected the plan by then-Governor Don Siegelman. McClendon said his current bill would set up a small commission to oversee a lottery that would include the multi-state games like Mega Millions and Powerball, as well as an Alabama lottery. McClendon proposes splitting the net revenue evenly between the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund, giving the legislature the flexibility to allocate the money where there is the most need; his bill calls for the  legislature to decide each year where the funds will go. He also noted that even without allowing casinos, some in his own party may still oppose bill, as they have moral issues with gambling in general.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: Pets on Restaurant Patios

The bill that will allow dogs on restaurant patios is one step closer to being passed by the legislature; last week, it was approved by the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee after being passed by the House earlier in the session. The bill allows restaurants to welcome leashed dogs (and other pets) in designated outdoor dining areas. Interested restaurants have to file a waiver with the Alabama Health Department agreeing to follow certain guidelines, including having a way for pets to get to their outdoor space without moving through indoor and non-pet designated dining spaces.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: AL’s Insects

You might know that Alabama’s official state insect is the regal Monarch butterfly, but the state has an official mascot too, and it’s also a butterfly, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Read more here.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: AL Approves Legislation Benefitting Military Families

Military families make decisions on whether they continue to serve based on opportunities for education, job opportunities and healthcare; adequately addressing these issues is seen by the Pentagon as a readiness issue. Last week, the Alabama Legislature made the state “friendlier” to military members and their families when it passed a dozen bills making it easier for military spouses to bring their specialty to the state. Five of the bills target spouses with a specialty in medicine. Two other Senate bills allow military members with children to attend in-state institutions as in-state residents. These two bills also provide for the creation of charter schools on or near military bases. The governor is expected to sign the bills, and they take effect on the first day of the third month after they are signed into law.

March 15, 2021 Group Watch: Delay on Bill to Check Ivey’s Power

A bill designed to check Governor Ivey’s emergency powers was headed for the Senate, but has been put on pause for now. Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth and some Republican lawmakers have disagreed with several of the governor’s decisions during the the pandemic, including business restrictions and mask mandates, and feel, in the future, that the legislature should have some say in such matters. This bill, sponsored by Senator Tom Whatley (R-Auburn), sets parameters for legislative involvement. Ivey has gotten support from state Democrats on this issue, who are not on board with the bill, and her office says she’s watching the bill’s progress and “staying engaged.”

The Bloom Group, Inc.

401 Adams Avenue, Suite 710
Montgomery, Alabama 36104
Telephone: (334) 244-8948
Fax: (334) 213-0688

Live Audio Feed

Listen to your senators and representatives at work. Click here to find links to live audio of the House and audio plus video of the Senate.

Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee

Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee

The News You Need

Find the latest information on all things Alabama politics on Alabama Today.