State House passes several Republican agenda items

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Alabama State Capitol

This week in the House has been one of heated and often lengthy debate, as House Republicans have brought several key agenda items to the floor and been railed against by House Democrats.

On Tuesday, the contentious bill from Rep. David Faulkner (R-Jefferson) garnered hours of debate. The bill, known as the Uniform Wage and Right-to-Work Act, is designed to prohibit cities or counties from raising the minimum wage. The bill came into existence out of Birmingham’s recent moves to incrementally increase its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

“We want to keep this state a pro-business, Right-to-Work state,” Faulkner said. “This bill will help to do that. This bill does not set, does not place a minimum wage level. It does preempt local efforts that attempt to raise the minimum wage and to provide other benefits.”

Rep. Mike Hill (R-Shelby) was first to speak in favor of Faulkner’s bill, saying, “he was going to “start this filibuster off properly.” Hill noted that if one city is allowed to raise its minimum wage it will force others to do the same and create perpetual competition among municipalities.

“I don’t know that I want to call this a filibuster as much as I want to call it an understanding of what we’re doing,” said Rep. A.J. McCampbell (D-Marengo).

McCampbell’s opposition stemmed from the fact that Alabama legislators as a whole have, historically, held significant disdain for the overreach of the federal government. But, in McCampbell’s opinion, the state government is doing the same thing to city governments.

“If you believe in home rule, then you have got to believe in home rule,” McCampbell said. “But if you believe a legislative body has more smarts than the people in these little cities, then we don’t need to be proclaiming and protesting when the federal government says ‘We are so much smarter than the people of Alabama.’ “

Debate continued on the bill for several hours before Republicans stymied filibuster efforts with a cloture vote. After the allotted 10 minutes, a vote was taken and the measure passed, largely along party lines.

A bill from Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby) to enshrine Alabama’s status as a “Right-to-Work” state in the Alabama Constitution came up for reconsideration on Tuesday. The bill had previously failed to pass because many House Republicans were absent.

The bill was taken up the next day and passed with limited debate.

Before Mooney’s bill passed candidly, hearty debate surrounded the vote on a bill from Rep. April Weaver (R-Brierfield). The “Unborn Infants Dignity of Life Act” would outlaw the sale of fetal tissue and provide parents with the right to respectfully dispose of a child’s remains.

Debate ensued, much of which centered around the fact that the sale of fetal tissue is already illegal and the Planned Parenthood videos that purported such sales have since been deemed illegal and inaccurate.

Despite that, the bill passed along party lines.

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