By Danny Garrett
MONTGOMERY — We are now at the halfway point of the 2021 legislative session. Thus far, we have had a very productive session. The Legislature is taking a break this week and will return on March 30.
Last week, the House passed the General Fund budget, which will now be taken up by the Senate. The Senate passed the Education Trust Fund budget, which now moves to the House. When we return after the break, both bodies will begin work on the budget before them.
This past week, the House tackled election law reforms resulting from concerns with the 2020 elections. The House passed a bill to increase the penalty for casting more than one ballot in the same election. While state law already prohibits someone from casting two ballots in Alabama, the bill would prohibit an individual from casting a ballot in Alabama, then going to another state and casting a ballot in the same election. The House also passed another election-related bill that bans curbside voting and prohibits voting machines from being set up outside a polling place. The bill offers clarity after a federal judge ruled last year that Alabama could not prevent local election officials from offering curbside voting. That judge’s ruling was later stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Thursday, the House passed the “Born Alive” bill, which requires physicians to work to save the lives of babies who are born alive after an attempted abortion. Abortion clinic doctors who violate the law can be charged with a Class A felony, which carries a prison sentence of 10 to 99 years. The bill now moves to the Senate.
The House also passed a bill that would create new crimes and penalties for individuals who incite or participate in riots. The bill would also provide additional protections for police officers and first responders when a peaceful protest turns violent. The bill would also require that a rioter may not be bailed out until 24 hours after arrest. The bill is not directed at peaceful protesters, but rather addresses the violent actions of the growing number of anarchist groups across the United States. Some of these individuals were involved in the riots that took place in Birmingham last summer.
The House also passed a bill that would prohibit biological males from competing against females and biological females from competing against males in kindergarten-12 school-sponsored sports. The bill would require that students compete based upon the sex indicated on his or her birth certificate. The bill was supported by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
There was also some good economic news for our state. Alabama’s unemployment fell to 4.3%. That represents a large decline from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when Alabama’s jobless rate reached almost 13%. A recent study released by Moody’s Analytics also showed that Alabama’s economy is recovering faster than most other states, and that we currently rank fifth in the nation on the survey’s rebound ratings.
When I return after the break, among other issues I will be working on, I will sponsor legislation to improve and increase internet access across the state, update the procurement and purchasing code for state agencies, and make it easier for residents of House District 44 to obtain and cast absentee ballots for future elections.
It is an honor to serve House District 44. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 205-410-4637 if there is anything you wish to discuss.