Alabama legislators convene today (May 31) for hearings on several bills still before the House and Senate in the final weeks of the 2023 Legislative Session.
Bills addressing gambling in Greene County, “cocktails in a can,” clear definitions of gender terms and parental rights remain in play.
- Senate Bill 324 is a proposed constitutional amendment to redefine pari-mutuel gambling in Greene County. Pari-mutuel betting is basically wagering against your fellow bettors. Alabama law already allows pari-mutuel betting on horse and dog racing in Greene County, according to Alabama attorney Eric Johnston, writing at ALCAP. Johnston argues that the bill would allow “computerized gambling with no limitations,” despite numerous decisions by the Alabama Supreme Court that have ruled electronic bingo machines are illegal under state law. Though the bill purports to affect only Greene County, Johnston said it would have statewide implications.
“This is not the first time that such a destructive strategy has been undertaken by gambling interests,” Johnston wrote. “If SB324 is not stopped this year, we will see many such bills to follow.”
- SB194 and SB321 would loosen some restrictions on the sale of “mixed-spirit beverages,” or “cocktails in a can,” as they are often called. Some have high alcohol content and are popular with underage drinkers, according to Greg Davis, president of ALCAP, writing in an editorial published May 30.
“Clearly, Big Alcohol views this legislation as a gold mine,” Davis writes. “But for the health and safety of Alabama families, it would be disastrous, leading to more consumption, more underage drinking, more drunk driving and more drunk-driving deaths.
- House Bill 405, or the “What is a Woman Act,” would define terms like “man,” “woman,” “boy,” “girl,” “father,” “mother,” “male,” “female” and “sex” for purposes of state law. The bill also would require vital statistics records to identify individuals as either male or female at birth.
- HB6, the “Parental Rights Protection Act,” seeks to codify parental rights as a fundamental right.
On April 27, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed SB113. The law ensures hospital visitation rights for families and clergy.
“The ability to visit a cherished loved one, whether in a hospital or nursing home, should be a fundamental right,” Ivey said. “However, all over the country during the pandemic, many family members, caregivers and even clergy were denied access to visit and provide emotional support to patients in health care facilities. Such restrictions defy the norms of a caring society, and I was pleased to sign this legislation to signal that in Alabama, we support our patients having this fundamental right.”
Other laws already enacted include:
- HB101, which streamlines the state’s adoption process and updates current adoption law language.
- HB1, which enacts stiffer penalties for drug offenses involving fentanyl.