Sen. Gerald Allen optimistic about getting national anthem bill before the Senate

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On Thursday, Alabama State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Northport) expressed optimism that the Senate would address his national anthem legislation soon. Allen’s bill, Senate Bill 238 (SB238), is a proposed amendment to the Alabama Constitution of 1901 that would require every public school in the state to play the national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, at least once a week during the school year.

On May 3, the Senate State Governmental Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to the legislation, but since then, it has not been brought to the Senate floor.

Following the end of Thursday’s legislative session, Alabama Today asked Allen about the status of his bill.

Allen said he had just talked about that while the Senate was in.

“It is going to be on the floor soon,” Allen said.

Alabama Today asked if it would be on the floor next week.

“I don’t know about next week,” Allen said.

According to the synopsis, “This bill would propose an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 2022, relating to public K-12 schools, to require local boards of education to adopt policies requiring each K-12 public school to broadcast or sanction the performance of the first stanza of The Star-Spangled Banner at least once per week during school hours.”

Allen said in Committee that he had brought legislation last year that would have required that the anthem be played before every public school athletics competition. He dropped that requirement in this bill and is simply requiring it just once a week during school hours.

Allen was asked if it does pass the Senate and if he has someone willing to carry this bill in the House of Representatives.

“Yes, I do – Arnold Mooney,” Allen said.

There is a very high burden for the passage of SB238 since it is a constitutional amendment. Passing a constitutional amendment requires a three-fifths majority of both bodies of each House. The Alabama Republican Party has commanding supermajorities in both Houses of the Alabama Legislature, but it is not known whether the Republican caucus will support this legislation or not. Without support from the GOP caucus, the leadership will not bring the bill to the floor. If SB238 does get approval from the legislature, the proposed amendment would still have to be ratified by a vote of the people next year in the presidential election.

Tuesday will be day 21 of the 2023 Alabama Regular Legislative Session. The session is limited to just 30 days by the Alabama Constitution.

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