The board of directors for the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP) held its annual meeting on March 10 at the facility of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions in Prattville. Board Chair Chris Crain of the Birmingham Metro Baptist Association presided.
ALCAP Executive Director Joe Godfrey reported on several legislative items of interest to the group.
“A lottery bill, Senate Bill (SB) 282, has been introduced,” he said. “The current bill favors the [Native American] gambling interests so there’s a division among legislators about this. The bill would probably result in [new] casinos in Birmingham and northeast Alabama.”
Godfrey said the gambling rush has been slowed by Gov. Kay Ivey’s study committee, headed by former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. Godfrey attended the inaugural meeting and promised to alert board members when a public hearing is scheduled. He said gambling is an addiction and does not ensure progress in education.
“The money promised to the state actually comes out of the pockets of ‘losers,’” he said. “Those who lose money in casinos and at slot machines are the contributors to the states, but three states with a lot of gambling — New Jersey, California and Illinois — still have very high taxes. Gambling is not a panacea for state funding.”
Medical Marijuana legislation
Godfrey said SB 165 is the so-called “Medical Marijuana” bill.
“The bill as we understand it allows ingesting the drug, rather than vaping or smoking,” he said. “Proponents promise marijuana can help with a lot of issues, including stress. The playbook of the marijuana lobby is to make this the first step before legalizing the recreational use of marijuana; therefore we oppose it.”
Yoga, child protection bills
ALCAP legal counsel Eric Johnston reported on House Bill (HB) 235, the “yoga” bill.
“The Alabama Department of Education ruled years ago that yoga couldn’t be taught in public schools,” he said. “We hope this continues since there’s a spiritual component that favors a religion. This might not be taught in the schools, but the children can find this component easily on the internet when they get home.”
Johnston also reported on the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, or HB 303, that prohibits sex-altering procedures for children.
“This bill makes it a felony to give sex-altering drugs or perform surgeries on minors,” he said. “The Senate version, SB 219, has passed and now the House is considering its version.”
Godfrey thanked the board for its continued interest and support and promised updates during the current legislative session. He also asked the board to remember the family of the late Dr. Dan Ireland who served as ALCAP Emeritus Director after his retirement. Ireland died Dec. 24.
In other business, the board welcomed new members Kelli Madison Olive of Fayette and Jennifer Davis Rash of The Alabama Baptist/TAB Media. The board also recognized ALCAP Administrative Assistant Cheryl Corley on her 20th anniversary.
Budget Chair Bill Johnston of Birmingham presented the 2020 budget of $414,508, and it was approved.
The next ALCAP board meeting is set for March 2, 2021.
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