The 2021 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature came to a close at midnight on Monday, May 17. Here are the results of the key bills we were monitoring:
The pro-gambling forces failed to get the votes necessary to pass the comprehensive gambling bill in the House, so the gambling bill (HB319) is “dead” for now. Governor Ivey has signaled that she may call a special session in the coming months to address the gambling issue and we will let you know if she does. If you have any contact with her or her staff, ask them not to call a special session on gambling.
In the meantime, we will continue to work to educate Alabamians about the “dark side” of the gambling enterprise and I am available to speak to your church or association of churches in your community about why Christians should oppose gambling. Pray that legislators will continue to be confused and divided so that they are not able to reach any agreements on gambling.
Senate Bill 46 (SB46) passed both houses and the Governor signed the bill into law this week. This bill legalizes marijuana for certain medical conditions, does not allow it to be smoked or vaped and supposedly has a variety of other restrictions placed on its use. However, like with alcohol, you can rest assured that the legislature will come back every year and remove one restriction at a time. The marijuana industry’s playbook is to begin pushing for recreational marijuana once people become accustomed to having marijuana in the state.
It should be noted that when “medical” marijuana was first legalized in Colorado, 74% of the youth who were treated for drug addiction said that their addiction started with marijuana they accessed using a family member’s “medical” marijuana card!
A doctor cannot prescribe marijuana and a pharmacist cannot fill a marijuana prescription. It must be obtained from a “medical” marijuana dispensary, so you will see dispensaries popping up all over the state. We did manage to get an amendment that requires local officials to approve a dispensary in their jurisdiction before the “Medical” Marijuana Commission can approve a certain location, but that is not much help.
And, speaking of the “Medical” Marijuana Commission, the “small government, cut-spending” Republicans in the House and Senate, by passing SB46, just added an entirely new bureaucracy to our state government. If they eventually pass a comprehensive gambling bill, that will be yet another bureaucracy they will create. Click here to see how your State Senator voted on SB46 and click here to see how your House member voted on the bill.
The Senate and the House passed a series of bills and the Governor signed them into law allowing direct shipment of alcoholic beverages to households in Alabama. It is a little difficult for underaged young people to walk into a liquor store or wine shop and purchase alcoholic beverages. Thanks to your Alabama Legislature, all they have to do now is order it online using the credit card info on their parents’ computer and have it delivered to their home. Delivery personnel are supposed to check for IDs to make sure the person receiving the alcohol is the proper age, but how many delivery companies do you think will continue to do that on a consistent basis?
The Yoga bill passed, so now the Hindu religion is allowed in public schools in K-12 grades. We cannot teach the Bible, but we can get credit for a practice that is intrinsically tied to Hinduism. We did get an amendment added that requires parents to be notified of Yoga’s origins. However, instead of saying it is a part of the Hindu religion, the notification simply states that Yoga has “eastern cultural” ties. Why is the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jeremy Gray (who earns his living teaching Yoga) afraid to state the truth about the connections between Yoga and Hinduism?
VULNERABLE CHILD COMPASSION & ACCOUNTABILITY ACT (VCAP)
SB10, sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt, would have protected children from having hormone treatments and surgical procedures performed on them that would forever change their gender. There were exceptions in the bill for other uses of hormone treatments, but this bill would have prevented parents from using these treatments and procedures in order to intentionally change the sex of their child.
This bill passed the Senate early in the Session and it passed the House Health Committee. However, it languished in “limbo” until the last night of the Session when it was added to a special order calendar one hour before the Legislature had to adjourn for the year (the last of 11 bills on that calendar, which meant there was no time to get to it). The Speaker claimed it was divisive, but he allowed “medical” marijuana and gambling to continue to get attention and those two bills were far more divisive. In fact, we were told that as many as 70 House members were willing to vote for the VCAP bill. We are disappointed that alcohol, marijuana and gambling were of more concern to legislators than protecting children from procedures that would forever alter their lives.
“BORN ALIVE” BILL
Rep. Ginny Shaver’s “born alive” bill was the one bright spot during the 2021 Legislative Session. This bill received by-partisan support and passed both houses (it passed the Senate on the last night of the Session). The bill now goes to the Governor to sign and we anticipate that she will do so.
This bill states that if a child is born alive during an attempted abortion, the doctor and medical staff must then take whatever action is necessary to save the baby’s life. Even pro-abortionist legislators agreed that this is the right thing to do.
FINAL WORDS I want to thank you for your prayers and support of ALCAP. If and when a special session is called, we will try to keep you updated. The 2022 Regular Session will begin the second Tuesday of January next year and we will keep you informed about legislation that concerns God’s people. At the end of that Session I will hand the baton to whoever is selected to succeed me in this important ministry. Please be in prayer for the ALCAP Executive Director Search Committee as they continue their work seeking God’s man to lead this ministry in the years ahead.