April 26, 2021 Group Watch: Curbside Voting Ban Faces Scrutiny in Senate

Alabama Democrats stalled a bill on the Senate floor that would ban curbside voting in the state. Curbside voting allows someone to vote without going inside a polling location. Renewed efforts for the bill came after the coronavirus pandemic sparked an increased interest in curbside voting in Alabama. Democrats believe the effort to ban curbside voting is a barrier for people with disabilities to vote. Senator Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, expressed concern that lawmakers were rushing to change the voting laws when he believes the state’s voting system works in its current form. Although the bill was carried over, it can be brought up for consideration on another date.

April 26, 2021 Group Watch: AL Senate Approved Permanent Daylight-Savings Time Bill

The Alabama Senate approved a bill from Senator Steve Livingston that would put Alabama on permanent daylight-saving time, if Congress allows states to do so. The bill passed 29-0 with no debate and now heads to the House for further consideration. Daylight-saving time is mandated by federal law, and only a change in federal law would allow states to move to year-round DST. According to the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL), 15 states, including Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, have passed laws or resolutions authorizing their states to observe year-round daylight-saving if authorized by D.C. A bill called the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 has been filed in Congress and has bipartisan sponsors.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Last week was the ninth of the 2021 regular session, and both chambers of the Alabama Legislature were busy.

The legal use of medical marijuana in Alabama keeps moving along, gaining approval from a second House committee last Wednesday.

The prospect of legal gambling in Alabama is making forward progress too. Senator McClendon’s bill, which started with a lottery only, was amended to include casinos before passing the Senate at the end of last week.

Find additional information on these topics and more below.

  • Tuesday, April 13 (22nd legislative day): The House Commerce and Small Business Committee approved a Senate-passed bill to provide certain considerations for contracts for services by design professionals. The House passed a number of bills of local application only and general bills to: revise the membership of the Employees’ Retirement System Board of Control and further provide for terms of service; authorize the Chief Executive Officer of the State Employees Insurance Board to approve group insurance offerings; expand the expungement of criminal records to include convictions of certain misdemeanor and felony offenses (Senate passed); and enhance criminal penalties under certain conditions for violations of the Alabama State of Emergency Protection Act. The Senate passed a few bills of local application only and general bills to postpone the third-grade retention requirement test until the 2024-2025 school year and to further provide for limitations of liability for Regional Mental Health Programs and Facilities. It also passed a series of four bills designed to allow the people of Alabama to vote on the establishment of a state lottery corporation and gaming commission and on how the proceeds will be disbursed.
  • Wednesday, April 14 (a committee day): The House State Government Committee approved Senate-passed bills to further provide for the local land bank authorities to deal with tax delinquent properties and to authorize the Senate Pro Tempore to appoint a designee to serve on the Sunset Committee. The House Health Committee approved a Senate-passed bill to establish a program to allow use of medical cannabis under certain conditions. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to further provide for guardianships and conservatorships in probate court. The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee approved House-passed bills to increase the member contribution rate for tier II Teachers Retirement System 30-year service members and to authorize a tax credit for the cost of acquisition and construction of a qualified storm shelter. The Senate Education Policy Committee approved House-passed bills to permit the broadcast of public K-12 school sporting events and provide for the Alabama Credential Quality and Transparency Act and the Workforce Council Committee on Credential Quality and Transparency. The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved a House-passed bill to require healthcare facilities to allow one caregiver or visitor to patients or residents, subject to reasonable restrictions.
  • Thursday, April 15 (23rd legislative day): The House passed several bills of local application only and general bills to: establish within the Psychology Examiners board intervention services to impaired licensed professionals; provide comprehensive transition and postsecondary programs for children of disabled veterans with intellectual disabilities; and authorize sales and use tax exemption to airport authorities (Senate passed). The Senate passed several bills of local application only and general bills to revise the authority of the Department of Public Health to administer a program of lead reduction; require a parenting plan in all child custody cases; and a House-passed bill allowing competition by one biological gender against another to be prohibited unless the event specifically includes both genders.

The House and Senate return on April 20 at 1 and 2 pm respectively.
Watch live video of both chambers here.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Tweet of the Week

April 16
We are sad to hear about the death of our friend Lamar Higgins. Our prayers go out to his family and many friends.


April 19, 2021 Group Watch: House Divided on Bill to Ban Treatments for Transgender Minors

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon said lawmakers are divided over a bill that would ban certain treatments for transgender minors. The bill passed the Senate earlier in the session and now faces debate in the House. But leaders in the House says there is some division over the bill. Some members are are concerned by reports they have received about treatments given to some children. There is concern about the age of the children and the drugs being given to them, and then there is the issue of parental rights. Speaker McCutcheon said that given the differences over the bill, there would likely be strong debate and with less than 10 days left, the focus should be on the budgets.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Legislature Passes Transgender Sports Bill

Last week, the legislature passed a bill that prohibits biological males play on female sports teams in Alabama schools (K-12). It’s now headed to Governor Ivey to be signed into law, although the governor has not yet commented on her intentions to sign it or not. Alabama is not alone in taking these steps. More than 12 other states have recently passed laws dealing with this and other transgender issues.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Senate Passes Bill for College Athletics Compensation

The Alabama Senate unanimously approved a House-passed bill saying that college athletes can receive compensation for their name, image and likeness. The legislation comes as the NCAA prepares to adopt rules that will allow student athletes to profit off their names, with certain limitations, while still competing at the collegiate level. The NCAA’s board of governors has approved the concept, but opposes legislation by states on the issue and prefers that Congress pass a bill that would provide uniformity across states. The main purpose of the Alabama measure is to ensure that Alabama universities are not at a disadvantage in recruiting. The bill will not take effect until the NCAA adopts rules to govern the process.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: Senate Approves Bill for Lottery & Casinos

The Alabama Senate has approved legislation to allow voters to decide whether to have a lottery and casinos. The main bill, a constitutional amendment by Republican Senator Jim McClendon of Springville, passed by a vote of 23-9. McClendon’s original bill would allow voters to decide whether to have a lottery. The Senate adopted a substitute by McClendon that adds six casinos to the plan. Four of the casinos would be at the state’s greyhound tracks in Birmingham, Mobile, Greene County and Macon County. One would be in Houston County, at the Crossing at Big Creek bingo hall. The sixth would be in either DeKalb or Jackson County in northeast Alabama. The plan would authorize sports betting and require the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Senator Bobby Singleton of Greensboro proposed an amendment to add a casino in Lowndes County, but that amendment failed to get the required 21 votes and was rejected 18-11. For a more detailed look at everything contained in the bill, read this.

April 19, 2021 Group Watch: AL to Host Lt. Governors Association Meeting

The National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) will meet in Baldwin County in August as the nation’s lieutenant governors and other seconds-in-command gather for the association’s first in-person meeting since 2019. The meeting will convene state “No. 2s” from across the country to discuss policy ideas and best practices. “Tourism is a top industry in our state, employing more than 200,000 workers in 2019,” said Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth. The NLGA meeting in Point Clear will generate an estimated economic impact of more than $300,000. Ainsworth noted that the meeting will bolster the state economy and bring attention to the region and the state, which is especially important following the damage COVID-19 did to tourism along the Gulf Coast and in other areas. NLGA was founded in 1962, and this will be only the second time Alabama has hosted an annual meeting of the association. The last time was in 1975.


April 19, 2021 Group Watch: AL Will Soon Learn Census Fate

Will Alabama lose a Congressional seat? That’s been in question for some time, and the answer will soon be here. Based on the final count of the 2020 Census, Alabama will either keep its current number of representatives (7) in D.C. or lose one. The population numbers from the recent census will be sent to President Biden on April 30. Right now, estimates from the census show that Alabama will, just barely, maintain status quo, which, if proven accurate once official numbers are released, is great news. But it’s not just our state’s voice in Congress that’s at stake. Alabama’s population determines other things too, including how much federal money comes our way for schools, infrastructure and hospitals. The state isn’t actually losing residents, but it is not growing at the same explosive rate as other Southern states.

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