What Alabamians need to know about the latest activity on Goat Hill — Feb. 25, 2021
The Alabama Legislature on Wednesday met for the eighth day of its 2021 regular session.
Neither chamber gaveled in for a particularly long period of time on the floor, due to most of the day being occupied by a lengthy and productive slate of committee meetings.
Here is a rundown of the day’s proceedings:
The Senate gaveled in at 4:00 p.m. and handled a one-bill special order calendar of SB 46.
This medical marijuana bill sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence) passed in a 20-10 vote; read about that here.
Before that, the upper chamber’s committee day kicked off with Judiciary. That committee advanced several bills, including Sen. Rodger Smitherman’s (D-Birmingham) SB 153 expanding the list of criminal offenses eligible for expungement.
The Tourism Committee subsequently gave a unanimous favorable report to Sen. Chris Elliott’s (R-Daphne) SB 62, which would allow certain eligible municipalities in Baldwin County to establish three entertainment districts within their jurisdictions.
Also of note, the Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee favorably reported Majority Leader Clay Scofield’s (R-Guntersville) SB 249 relating to call centers.
View the full list of the Senate’s floor activity from the day here.
The House convened at 1:00 p.m. and spent its floor time taking up local bills.
The lower chamber also had a robust, and — at times — controversial, committee day.
Ways and Means Education got started at 8:45 a.m.; the committee gave a favorable report, among others, to HB 281 as amended. This bill sponsored by House Pro Tem Victor Gaston (R-Mobile) would extend the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program through 2027.
The committee also advanced two pro-military bills, SB 83 and SB 106, that are part of a package discussed in a press conference shortly afterward the same day.
In Constitution, Campaigns and Elections, one notable item that received a public hearing but no committee action on the day was HB 39 by Rep. Laura Hall (D-Huntsville). This bill would provide for no-excuse absentee voting in Alabama and is supported by Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican. However, local elections officials from three counties voiced opposition to the bill during the hearing.
Education Policy took up some significant bills on Wednesday; this included advancing Rep. Jeremy Gray’s (D-Opelika) HB 246, which would legalize yoga being offered in public K-12 schools. The same committee gave a favorable report to Rep. Scott Stadthagen’s (R-Hartselle) HB 391, the bill mandating public school students can only compete in athletic competitions aligning with the gender on their birth certificates.
In the next room over, the Judiciary Committee favorably reported as amended Rep. Ginny Shaver’s (R-Leesburg) HB 237, a bill to protect “born-alive” abortion survivors. The committee also advanced Rep. Wes Allen’s (R-Troy) HB 1 as amended, the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.
View the full list of the House’s floor activity from the day here.
The legislature on Thursday will meet for the ninth day of its 2021 regular session; this will conclude the legislative week. The Senate is scheduled to get in at 9:30 a.m., followed by the House at 10:00 a.m.
Livestreams of legislative proceedings can be viewed on the legislature’s website here.
Next week is also set to be a three-day legislative week.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn