7 Things: Abortion bill leads to chaotic day in the State Senate, lottery funding change could see money directed to education, medical marijuana bill passes the State Senate and more …
— The bill was filed by Representative Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle) on Wednesday. The bill noted that many of the communicable diseases we’re seeing spread through the country are preventable by vaccines, and continued on to say, “Therefore, all citizens of this state, including students in public and private schools, who are medically able to receive vaccinations for the most dangerous communicable diseases should do so for the betterment of the overall health of this state.” There are currently 3,587 students in state schools that aren’t vaccinated due to religious exemptions, according to the Alabama Department of Education. Medical exemptions would still be allowed with this bill.
6. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) proposes a major overhaul of the Alabama school system
— Marsh filed SB397 on Thursday, which would replace the State Board of Education with the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education, members of which would be appointed by the governor, instead of elected.. Marsh said, “Currently, one of the reasons that education is consistently the most pressing issue for Alabamans is because our state school board is completely dysfunctional.” Governor Kay Ivey has already come out in strong support of the proposal and called it a “bold change.”
— Three major geopolitical issues are influx for President Trump as his ability to make deals internationally is called into question. North Korea is firing off new missile tests and the U.S has now seized a cargo ship claiming it was used to violate sanctions. With Iran, the Trump administration has repositioned ships in the region, placed new sanctions and alleged a former U.S. secretary of state has violated the Logan Act by telling the Iranians not to talk with the U.S. right now. The U.S.-China trade deal could be thrown into doubt if the president follows through with his promise of new tariffs as negotiations continue and reports say the Chinese are prepared for all possible outcomes. Obviously, all of these issues can be resolved in the United States favor but all three are posing serious challenges at the moment.
4. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) are teaming up to cap interest rates
— The legislation Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez would focus on capping interest rates at 15 percent in the credit card and banking industries. Sanders said, “We’re talking about economic brutality. They see a real profit center in going after desperate people…who cannot afford the basic necessities of life.” AOC called 30 and 40 percent interest rates extortion. While announcing the legislation, AOC also said that the plan is considered radical today, but laws like this one existed until the 1970s and made credit for lower-income Americans very hard to come by. This will be followed by lawmakers insisting banks issue credit to people who may not be able to pay it; then they will default and we will see the same issues we had with the housing crisis.
3. Medical marijuana bill has been approved by the Alabama Senate
— The Alabama Senate approved the bill in a 17-6 vote on Thursday morning. The bill would allow people with certain chronic medical conditions to get a medical cannabis card. Patients would have to get a recommendation from a doctor, as well as a second opinion. The bill also sets up an oversight committee that would be able to add and remove conditions where marijuana can be used. The bill now moves to the House.
2. The bill that would legalize the lottery in Alabama could see some changes to where the funds go
— State Representative Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) is carrying the bill in the House and proposed the substitute bill that would allocate 75 percent of the funds gained from the lottery to the general fund and 25 percent to the Education Trust Fund. The Alabama House Economic Development and Tourism Committee adopted the substitute bill unanimously. While Del Marsh has said that protecting the general fund also protects the education budget, others feel strongly that some of the money needs to go directly to education.
— The abortion ban bill was in the Senate for debate, but the vote has been delayed until at least Tuesday due to Democrats causing too much commotion. After a successful procedural vote, Senator Clyde Chambliss’ (R-Prattville) moved to table the amendment that would allow an exception for rape and incest in the bill. When the motion to table the amendment was made, Democrats started yelling into one of the microphones on the floor. Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth released a statement after the vote was delayed, saying, “It’s important that we pass this statewide abortion ban legislation and begin a long overdue effort to directly challenge Roe v. Wade. Abortion is murder.” House sponsor Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) told a group at an Alabama Policy Institute event that she will kill her bill if the exemptions make it through the Senate.