The Alabama House and Senate are set to reconvene March 30, and legislators expect to hear more about gambling, abortion and raising the age for those who purchase and use nicotine.
Though a major expansion of gambling in the state failed earlier in the session, “the battle over gambling has not ended,” said Joe Godfrey, executive director of Alabama Citizens Action Program, in a recent newsletter to supporters. “Everyone must stay vigilant.”
Godfrey urged pastors and church members to continue contacting their senators and representatives over important legislation. He pointed out that Sen. Del Marsh, who proposed Senate Bill 214, blamed pastors for the failure of his bill to pass.
“This shows how important it is for pastors and church members to flood the email boxes and phone lines of their state senators, encouraging them to vote no on any and all gambling bills,” Godfrey said.
Several more gambling bills were introduced just after SB214’s defeat: SB309, SB310, SB311, SB318, SB319 and SB320. To view all pending bills, click here.
Godfrey warned against the “lottery only” bills because ALCAP leaders believe any of the gambling bills could be expanded much easier later once approved. Godfrey said SB 318 was withdrawn from the Senate Tourism Committee on March 17 but “it could be brought back at any point.”
SB 319 and SB 320 were amended March 18 to remove video lottery terminals, also known as VLTs. These are slot machines that allow users to play the lottery.
Godfrey said ALCAP will continue to ask people to oppose any kind of gambling. He believes “any lottery bill will eventually result in casinos, sports betting and online gambling.”
Before the recent Spring Break, House representatives passed “Gianna’s Law” or House Bill 237 requiring a physician to “exercise reasonable care to preserve the life of a child who is born alive after an abortion or attempted abortion in an abortion or reproductive health center.”
The bill, which would also establish criminal penalties for violations, has been proposed by Rep. Ginny Shaver (R-Leesburg) for three consecutive sessions. In 2019, the bill passed the House but failed to make it past the Senate. The COVID-19 pandemic stopped it from advancing in 2020 because of the shutdown. Gianna Jessen, a survivor of an attempted abortion who travels to share her story, inspired Shaver to propose the bill, also referred to as the “born alive bill.”
Day of Tears
A recognition of the loss of lives to abortion was approved March 9 by the Senate. House Joint Resolution 24 was approved Feb. 11 by the House. Alabama citizens are asked to recognize the Day of Tears on Jan. 22, 2022, in honor and remembrance of the more than 61 million innocents who have died because of abortion.
The text of the resolution reads:
WHEREAS, on January 22, 1973, a majority of the members of the United States Supreme Court ruled that access to abortion was a right secured by the Constitution; and
WHEREAS, since that fateful day, over 61 million unborn children have perished, amounting to an entire third of Generations X through Alpha; now therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEREOF CONCURRING, That January 22, 2022, is recognized as the Day of Tears in Alabama, and citizens of Alabama are encouraged to lower their flags to half-staff to mourn the innocents who lost their lives to abortion.
HJR 24 was sent to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature.
“HJR24 is an important step in the mission to change our culture to one that embraces Life. Thank you to the Alabama Legislature for designating a day to remember and mourn those whom we have lost under the guise of ‘choice,” said Anne Fitzgerald, Day of Tears executive director in a statement.
Day of Tears is a 501(c)(3) committed to the lives of the preborn. Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant) sponsored the bill.
Similar resolutions have passed the Arkansas and Mississippi houses and await Senate involvement. The Day of Tears organization also expects other states to propose bills. The U.S. Senate and House introduced resolutions Jan. 22.
Alcohol and nicotine
Godfrey expressed concern over alcohol-related bills. “We have voiced our concerns about expanding the availability of alcohol in the state, but most legislators don’t seem to care about making alcohol (a mind-altering and addictive drug) more and more available,” he said.
There also is a bill still in the judiciary committee that deals with nicotine. House Bill 273, which is sponsored by five representatives, would raise the age to buy, possess or use nicotine products to 21 and impose restrictions on marketing of certain products.
Other bills to watch:
- SB 10, known as the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act (similar to HB 1), would prohibit gender change therapy for minors
- SB 46, which would legalize medical marijuana
- HB 246, a measure to allow local boards of education to offer yoga to students in grades K–12.