The fourth week of the Alabama legislative session kicks off this week, with the House of Representatives convening at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and the Senate just half an hour later.
According to statements made last Thursday by House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) and Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston), both chambers will likely begin looking at the General Fund budget this week, as well as a slate of other bills.
The House is on schedule to take up HB2, a bill requiring wireless service providers to hand over customer location information upon law enforcement’s request. House members will also look at HB56, which will establish the Fantasy Contests Act and provide regulations for such gaming, and HB46, which would allow Alabama distilleries to sell “fifths” for off-premise consumption.
Perhaps the most exciting piece of legislation to hit the House floor this week will be HB13, the bill from Rep. Alan Harper (R-Northport) to allow Alabama citizens to vote on whether or not to allow a lottery in the state. The legislation has been given flack for not specifying where the proceeds from such a lottery would be allocated, though sponsors hope to add such details to the legislation once a vote is taken by the people.
The Senate will be mulling over SB89, which would require Alabama public school students to pass a civics test before graduating, and SB86, which would prohibit public colleges and universities from using funds or property to advocate for or against state and local ballot measures.
The Senate will also take up one of the controversial bills from Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), which will prohibit the removal of historical monuments from public property and put the appeals process in the hands of a newly-established Joint Committee on Alabama Monument Protection.
On Wednesday, committee hearings will get underway. The Senate Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development will meet to take up a laundry list of bills, including a bill aimed at immortalizing Alabama’s status as a “Right-to-Work” state in the constitution and a bill aimed at limiting the responsibility that employers have for paying permanent total disability benefits to employees once they reach the age of 65.
The committee will also take up three bills aimed at loosening Alabama’s restrictions on alcohol in relation to wineries, distilleries and brewpubs.
The Senate Committee on Constitution Ethics and Elections will meet to take up a measure aimed at expediting the process by which Alabama felons are given back their voting rights and the Senate Committee on Tourism and Marketing will look at a bill from Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) to establish an Alabama lottery run in conjunction with other multi-state games.
The House Committee on Economic Development and Tourism will meet to discuss a measure aimed at allowing wineries to establish an off-premise tasting room and the House Committee on Health will mull over the Assisted Suicide Ban Act, a bill that will allow healthcare providers to decline to perform services that violate their consciences and the Fetal Heartbeat Act.
The House Judiciary Committee will take up a piece of legislation defining moral turpitude, the vague crimes of which can remove a person’s voting rights permanently.