The Alabama Legislature has been in session four weeks, but the legislative agenda is off to a slow start due to an early special session.
Gov. Kay Ivey called the special legislative session to deal with spending American Rescue Plan money, federal funds given to states to help with financial relief from the pandemic.
Now that the regular session has resumed, legislators are considering several bills of interest to the faith-based community, including legislation dealing with transgender treatments for youth, gambling expansion and alcohol sales.
Representatives of the Alabama Citizens Action Program spoke Feb. 2 at a public hearing in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee about House Bill 119, a proposal to legalize “drive-thru” alcohol sales.
“We believe they are setting the stage for fast food restaurants to be able to sell alcohol,” said Joe Godfrey, ALCAP president and CEO in an email to supporters. “If this happens, a person can go through the drive-thru, get a hamburger and a beer. The opportunity for young people to access alcohol will greatly increase if this bill passes.”
Transgender treatment ban
Godfrey provided an update on the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Accountability Protection Act, which prohibits gender change therapy, such as hormone blockers and/or gender change surgical procedures, for minors. The bill passed the Senate during the 2021 session but did not pass the House. Sen. Shay Shelnutt has introduced the bill in the Senate and Rep. Wes Allen has introduced the bill in the House.
The Senate confirmed 13 members of the state’s Medical Cannabis Commission. Fourteen appointments to the commission were announced in September. Thirteen were confirmed: Sam Blakemore, Dwight Gamble, Eric Jenson, B. James Harwell, Taylor Hatchett, Angela Martin, Charles Price, Dion Robinson, William Saliski, Loree Skelton, Steven Stokes, Jerzey Szaflarski and Rex Vaughn. One nomination was carried over.
Pray for officials, candidates
Godfrey urged prayer for those in government and for those, like he and ALCAP President-elect Greg Davis, who will advocate on behalf of moral issues in Alabama during the 2022 legislative session.
ALCAP will be watching for efforts to further expand legalized marijuana, he said, as well as any efforts to expand gambling. Godfrey said Sen. Greg Albritton has indicated his intent to introduce gambling expansion legislation this year, but those bills have not yet been filed. Godfrey is hopeful any such bills will fail.
“Several legislators have indicated that they do not believe it (gambling expansion) will pass since this is an election year, but we will not count on that to be the case,” he said in the ALCAP update. “We need for [concerned voters] to contact your State Senator and House Member and ask him/her to oppose ALL gambling expansion bills.
“I would also ask that you question all candidates running for state constitutional offices and legislative offices about their position on gambling, and let them know that you are opposed to all forms of gambling expansion in the state.”
To find your state legislators, go to the ALCAP website at alcap.com/. Click on the “find your legislator” button and enter your full street address. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find your Alabama State Legislator.