What Alabamians need to know about the latest activity on Goat Hill — April 7, 2021
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature on Tuesday convened for the 19th day of its 2021 regular session.
In addition to both chambers convening into the evening hours, there were important committee meetings held earlier in the day.
Here’s a rundown of the day’s proceedings:
The upper chamber’s day began with Senate Education Policy meeting at 10:45 a.m. The agenda was led-off by Sen. Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) SB 365. In a public hearing, a speaker each from the School Superintendents of Alabama and the Alabama Association of School Boards spoke in opposition to the bill, which would create the Open Schools Act of 2021.
Alabama is one of only three states in the nation that do not have a statewide law or policy relating to open enrollment. Marsh explained that the bill would simply have local school systems adopt their own policies relating to open enrollment; this could include certain school systems choosing to adopt the policy of not offering open enrollment at all. The senator advised that open enrollment allows students in relatively underperforming districts the hope of being able to attend better schools. He stressed that state elected officials need to take a big picture approach and take “blinders” off if they want to move Alabama out of the bottom when it comes to statewide education rankings.
Ultimately, SB 365 received a favorable report in a 7-3 vote. While concerns were raised regarding language in the bill, that language was drafted by relying heavily on longstanding open enrollment laws from other states, such as Colorado’s existing law.
At 1:00 p.m., Senate Governmental Affairs considered a full slate, starting with a public hearing on House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter’s (R-Rainsville) HB 220. Ultimately, the bill was advanced on an uncontested voice vote.
Rep. Wes Allen’s (R-Troy) HB 285 to ban curbside voting, Rep. A.J. McCampbell’s (D-Linden) HB 411 and Sen. Gerald Allen’s (R-Tuscaloosa) SB 358 to establish the Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act were also all given favorable reports, among others. SB 358 was the only roll call vote of the meeting, resulting in a 6-2 approval. Sens. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) and Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) were opposed. Givhan called the bill “unconstitutional on its face.”
The Senate convened at 2:30 p.m. and met for almost three hours.
During that time, the upper chamber concurred with the House-passed version of SB 126, which is sponsored by Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills). This bill to legalize the home delivery of alcohol in Alabama now moves to the governor’s desk.
The Senate also passed as amended HBs 130 and 131, which together would comprise Aniah’s Law. The bills head back to the House for concurrence or nonconcurrence.
One important bill to receive final passage by the Senate on the day was HB 408, sponsored by Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-Arab) and carried in the Senate by Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville). The bill now heads to the governor.
View the Senate’s full daily activity here.
At 12:30 p.m., the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee met and gave a favorable report to SB 264, sponsored by Sen. Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva). The legislation — which passed the Senate last week as amended — would allow the licensed hunting of feral hogs and coyotes at night. The House companion version of this bill has already moved through the lower chamber.
The lower chamber gaveled in at 1:00 p.m. and met almost six hours.
During that time, the House took up two special order calendars, beginning with a one-bill calendar of HB 510. That bill — which only applies to Jefferson County — ultimately passed 24-2, with 57 abstentions. Cloture had to be filed to reach that point.
The second special order calendar featured several bills, but HBs 388 and 90 ate up most of the remainder of the working day.
View the House’s full daily activity here.
Wednesday will see both chambers convene in for the 20th day, which is the two-thirds mark of the regular session. The Senate is expected to take up a lottery bill; it remains to be seen if other forms of gaming are added on the floor. The House is set to take up a 10-minute calendar.
A long slate of committee meetings will also be held prior to gaveling in.
On the Senate side, Judiciary will kick things off at 8:30 a.m. The agenda will be led-off by Rep. Jeremy Gray’s (D-Opelika) HB 246, which would legalize yoga in public schools. The bill last week failed to advance from committee but was carried over after a vote to reconsider. Judiciary will also take up, among others, HB 404, sponsored by Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette).
At 9:15 a.m., Tourism will consider HB 437, the direct wine shipment bill by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur).
Health at 11:30 a.m. is scheduled to take up Rep. Ginny Shaver’s (R-Leesburg) HB 237, the born-alive abortion bill.
This will be followed at 1:00 p.m. by Banking and Insurance considering an agenda that concludes with Sen. Tom Butler’s (R-Madison) SB 227, which was torn apart in a public hearing last month.
On the House side of the committee equation, Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections at 9:30 a.m. will take up HB 500, which is Rep. Becky Nordgren’s (R-Gadsden) second attempt this session to pass a bill allowing the legislature to call itself into a special session.
Another meeting to especially watch will be Education Policy at 1:00 p.m. Three bills have a public hearing called before the committee: HBs 9, 440 and 559.
HB 9 would ban Chinese Confucius Institutes on Alabama public school campuses; HB 440 would eliminate the usage of curriculum standards commonly known as the Common Core State Standards; and HB 559 would better allow contributors to Alabama Accountability Act scholarship granting organizations to be able to claim corresponding state tax credits.
Judiciary has an agenda that starts with SB 46, Sen. Tim Melson’s (R-Florence) medical marijuana bill.
At 2:00 p.m., Public Safety and Homeland Security will hold its second meeting of the same day. This latter agenda will exclusively include Sen. Randy Price’s (R-Opelika) SB 308, which would create the Alabama Uniform Concealed Carry Permit Act.
“The United States Constitution affords the American people the right to keep and bear arms, and this is a freedom we must work hard to preserve,” said Price when the bill passed the Senate as amended last week.
The Senate will gavel in at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, while the House will convene at 4:00 p.m.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn