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What to Watch: Legislative Session Week 10

Today the Legislature kicks off its 10th week of business. Only seven days will remain in the 2023 general session upon conclusion Thursday, the 23rd legislative day. 

Here are some things to keep an eye on this week:

Senate tempo

With the General Fund budget resting upstairs in the Senate, expect action as their floor and committee calendars will be busy. It’s not certain the General Fund will be among those moves, as budget chairs continue to negotiate decisions on a variety of hang-ups that play out each year. 

ESG

Speaking of the Senate, the Environmental, Social, and Governance bill brought by Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) is postured for a full chamber vote this week after “essential” amendments were made last Wednesday in committee. When introduced, the business and economic development sectors raised red flags about the proposal, but are now comfortable with the spirit of the bill after changes. As it stands, the legislation is strong and comprehensive. 

Device filters

Legislation from Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville) will see daylight on the House floor today after a successful effort to brand the bill as an anti-pornography measure for minors and young wireless device users. Sells has sponsored the bill in some form over several years, but it’s regularly stalled in House Judiciary. This time around, it cleared the Small Business & Commerce committee in an 8-4 vote. Critics of the bill say unintended consequences could arise with device manufacturers if new laws are imposed beyond existing content filters available through the manufacturers’ software. 

Wednesday House action

The House will convene Wednesday on top of a regular committee schedule. 

Medical workforce

Like last week, legislation designed to help solve the shortage of qualified medical professionals in Alabama will continue to be a focal point of committee and floor action. While some proposals incentivize participation in the healthcare workforce, others seek to lower the barrier of certification to practice. Both models are receiving popular support from lawmakers. The bill from Rep. Phillip Pettus (R-Green Hill) to remove the college degree requirement for paramedics is set for a full vote today. 

China

The Property Protection Act will be in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. Mirroring federal legislation to prohibit Chinese government influence in the homeland, Rep. Scott  Stadthagen’s (R-Hartselle) bill drew criticism from House Democrats last week – while Attorney General Steve Marshall and the House GOP caucus got behind it with workable amendments. A bill prohibiting state agencies from purchasing Chinese-made drones by Rep. James Lomax (R-Huntsville) might also see floor action later this week. 

Hollywood, Alabama

Alabama is stepping up its game in the entertainment industry with revisions to the 2009 Entertainment Industry Incentive Act. Sen. Garland Gudger (R-Cullman) proposed legislation that would incentivize filmmakers and production companies to choose Alabama as their preferred filming location. In an effort to rival Georgia’s increasingly popular industry, these changes could end up showcasing Alabama’s landscapes on the big screen more often. Gudger’s bill has a House counterpart, which is set for a floor vote today.

Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270 for coverage of the 2023 legislative session.

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