The Alabama House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security met Wednesday morning to discuss several bills and, in a move uncommon in most committee meetings, debate was minimal and support widespread.
The first agenda item was HB 94, a bill sponsored by Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton) to provide disabled veterans with discounts on license plates, even if that license plate is not a disabled veterans plate.
The inspiration for Baker’s bill came from an email he received from a disabled veteran who was afraid of being targeted due to his disabled veteran plate – targeted by terrorists for being a vet and targeted by criminals for being disabled – who urged his representative to make it possible for vets to receive subsidies for all license plates.
The only form of dissent from the bill came from Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) who noted that she has felt targeted every day of her life, recalling times when she had a shotgun pointed at her head and times she was beaten by a white man for using the wrong water fountain.
“Whether it’s real or perceived, I would want them to feel safe and secure,” Baker said before a vote was taken and the bill given a favorable report.
A bill from Rep. Elaine Beech (D-Chatom), HB 1, would allow law enforcement officers to issue traffic citations at the scene of an accident. Current law provides that if a person is transported to the hospital, an officer can not follow them there to issue an arrest. Beech’s bill would change that.
Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) opposed the measure on mostly technical grounds, noting that clarity needed to be made in certain language used in the bill, specifically in relation to how officers would determine who was at fault in an accident and how long they had to press charges against an offender.
The committee voted to carry the bill over until next week’s meeting.
HB 11, which would allow Alabamians to renew their driver’s licenses up to six months before the expiration date, received a green light from the committee, as well as HB 22 from Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka) to strengthen penalties for youthful drivers and their parents if a violation of the graduated driver’s license regulations is committed.
Holmes brought the bill last year in response to the death of three Wetumpka High School teens and a deputy in an auto collision. Under the graduated driver’s license regulations, the teens should not have been allowed to be in a car together.
Multiple committee members, both Republican and Democrat, applauded Holmes for bringing the bill forward sand making efforts to “protect our young people.”