What Alabamians need to know about the latest activity on Goat Hill — April 8, 2021
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature met for the 20th day of its 2021 regular session.
Several important committee meetings were also held.
Here’s a rundown of the day’s proceedings:
The upper chamber’s day began with the Senate Judiciary Committee giving a favorable report to Rep. Jeremy Gray’s (D-Opelika) HB 246, which would legalize yoga in public schools. The committee also advanced, among others, HB 404, which is sponsored by Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette).
A couple hours later, Health gave a favorable report to Rep. Ginny Shaver’s (R-Leesburg) HB 237, the born-alive abortion bill.
Banking and Insurance advanced a substitute version of Sen. Tom Butler’s (R-Madison) SB 227, which was torn apart in a public hearing last month. The preponderance of the cost-drivers in the original version of the bill have been taken out of the substitute, allowing the legislation to move.
The Senate gaveled in at 2:30 p.m. and took up a two-bill calendar of SB 320 and SB 319. Sponsored by Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville), this legislation would legalize and implement a lottery in Alabama; SB 320 is the enabling bill, while SB 319 would propose a constitutional amendment.
A committee substitute for SB 320 was adopted, as well as seven floor amendments; after all that, SB 320 passed in a 30-2 vote.
However, the constitutional amendment was always the trickier part. After adopting a committee substitute for SB 319, the Senate carried the bill over at McClendon’s request and then adjourned for the day. Multiple senators had expressed concerns during the afternoon’s debate, including about the legislation not addressing other forms of gaming.
McClendon told reporters after adjournment that he decided to live to fight another day on SB 319 because he was not confident enough in the current vote count. He said he expected amendments to be made to SB 319 when it hits the floor again, including the potential of casino gaming being added. While SB 319 could come back up as soon as Thursday, McClendon did not expect that to be the case.
View the Senate’s full daily activity here.
The lower chamber’s committee day also got off to a quick start.
Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections met at 9:30 a.m. and took up HB 500, which was Rep. Becky Nordgren’s (R-Gadsden) second attempt this session to pass a bill allowing the legislature to call itself into a special session. After some confusion on the initial vote count, it was declared that the bill failed to advance due to a tie vote; when another supporter of the bill got to the committee meeting afterwards, an attempt to reconsider was made but that vote also failed.
Later in the day, House Education Policy held respective public hearings on 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. No votes were taken on these three bills on Wednesday.
In a long Judiciary meeting, the committee ultimately gave a favorable report on a voice vote to SB 46, Sen. Tim Melson’s (R-Florence) medical marijuana bill. This came after Judiciary tacked 10 amendments onto the legislation. The bill now heads to the Health Committee.
The House gaveled in at 4:00 p.m. and met for more than six hours, taking up a 10-minute calendar of relatively non-controversial bills.
View the lower chamber’s full daily activity here.
The legislature on Thursday will meet for the 21st day of the session.
The Senate gavels in at 10:30 a.m., while the House will convene at 10:00 a.m.
One committee meeting to watch before that will be Senate Tourism at 9:00 a.m., with HB 437 — the direct wine shipment bill by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) — on the agenda. The committee was scheduled to take this up on Wednesday, however final negotiations were still ongoing between stakeholders.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn