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2018


Legislative Update - Week 4

HB76 was one of the most significant bills before the Alabama House of Representatives in Week 4.  An update on other bills will be sent next week.
 
Please read Eric Johnston's update on HB76:

SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE™
1200 Corporate Drive, Suite 107
Highway 280 - Meadow Brook Corporate Park
Birmingham, Alabama  35242
 Telephone: (205) 408-8893 / Facsimile: (205) 408-8894
E-mail: AEJ@SoutheastlawInstitute.org
www.southeastlawinstitute.org

MEMORANDUM
TO:  Interested Persons 
FROM:  A. Eric Johnston 
DATE:  February 2, 2018 
RE:  HB76 - Daycare Bill


On February 1, 2018, the House passed the compromise daycare bill, with one amendment.  It was an hours long debate, which resulted in an expected outcome.
 
While the welfare of children was mentioned frequently, particularly related to the small boy who died in Mobile, that masked the real objective of the proponents of the bill.  That small boy might not have died if the so-called "church daycare" had done a background check on the culpable employee and DHR had done a follow up, due to her criminal record.  That so-called church daycare was a recipient of federal funds.  
 
The initial goal of proponents was to license all church daycares.  That idea has been defeated and we hope it will not return.  The compromise bill is still a necessary bill that needs to be passed in order to clarify the respective positions of real church daycare ministries and those that masquerade as church daycares, but for profit.  The catalyst for this has been the 2014 federal childcare grant act that made daycare a profitable industry.
 
The amendment that was added to the bill will likely not change interpretation.  The original wording was as follows:
 
"(2)  A childcare facility that receives state or federal funds, is operating for profit, or has at least one child who receives a childcare subsidy from the Department is not exempt for licensure under this subsection."
 
The amended language reads as follows:
 
"(2)  A childcare facility that receives state or federal funds or is operating for profit is not exempt from licensure under this subsection."
 
What is federal or state support will ultimately be determined by other laws and federal and DHR policy.  Whether the incidental receipt of state funds from the state, through a neutral secular aid program, violates the child's or foster parent's religious rights by placing the child in a church daycare remains a question.  The recent SCOTUS decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer ruled such a law may violate a person's free exercise rights.  Merely putting a child in an exempt program with the incidental use of funds meant for the welfare of the child and not to advance religion, should not be prohibited.  It would not matter that the source of the funds is federal or state.  
 
The unfortunate fact remains and with which we must abide is that if you take federal or state funds, you will be regulated to an extent by the provider of those funds.  Incidental funds such as a foster parent child voucher should not trigger loss of exemption, while direct federal or state funding might.  Alabama has a "severability" statute that applies to all statutes.  If any part is unconstitutional, it may be severed from the statute, so long as it does not substantively affect the remainder of the statute.  This section could easily be interpreted to meet constitutional requirements, or be severed if necessary, and the rest of the statute would remain in place.  

We are grateful to Representative Allen Farley for his shepherding this amendment.  The amendment seems to satisfy both sides.  If it stands, we hope DHR takes a constitutional approach to this question and does not seek to invoke licensure for incidental events.
 
The bill now moves to the Senate.  It is important that the bill maintain its composure, without more amendments.  It will resolve the existing and undesirable conflict between church and state.  We hope those who have spoken against the bill will reduce their clamor so that we can finish this bill with a law that will meet the needs of the state and provide protection to the church.  We are grateful for the Representatives of the House who worked diligently to find a way to a legitimate compromise and vote the bill out.
 
AEJ/pmm
                                                                                            

HB76 (Daycare Bill) Explained


An explanation of HB76 (the "Daycare Bill") from Eric Johnston is found below.

ALCAP, the Alabama Christian Educators Association and the Southeast Law Institute are all supporting this bill, but other conservative groups are opposing it.
 
I believe that this bill protects children, while also protecting the religious freedoms of churches. It does not keep churches that receive government subsidies from being licensed by the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), but only churches that receive no government subsidies (which we believe to be a reasonable compromise).
 
Two facts should be considered:
  1. Many good legislators who voted against the bill last year were vilified for "not caring about children." Passing this bill will show that they do care about children, but also the religious freedoms of churches.
  2. Those who are pushing this bill will keep coming back if this bill is not passed. With the upcoming elections later this year, the makeup of the legislature next year might result in a climate that is less concerned about religious freedom. 
Please read Eric Johnston's explanation for a better understanding:

SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE™
1200 Corporate Drive, Suite 107
Birmingham, Alabama 35242
Telephone: (205) 408-8893, Facsimile: (205) 408-8894
E-mail: AEJ@SoutheastlawInstitute.org
www.southeastlawinstitute.org

MEMORANDUM
TO:  Interested Persons 
FROM:  A. Eric Johnston 
DATE:  January 30, 2018 
RE:  HB76 - Daycare Bill

The bill related to church daycare center licensure was voted out of a House committee today.  The bill was a compromise of one from last year, but which is now acceptable to advocates for church daycares.  However, there were complaints from others for separation of church and state reasons.

Those who have normally agreed on religious freedom issues find themselves at odds with a small group.  This is unfortunate since it confuses not only legislators but citizens, as well.  People do not know what to believe because of the apparent disagreement.

The disagreement is not over protecting religious freedom.  The ideas articulated by opponents of the bill in committee and in media are well stated and accepted by conservatives who support the First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion Clause.  The problem is, however, while it is possible to articulate principles and platitudes, it is more difficult to apply those in the real world.  That is the problem here.

To be clear, the purpose of HB76 is to differentiate between proper church daycare ministries and those church daycare operations which either masquerade as such or operate using federal or state funds for profit.  This problem did not exist until a federal funding act passed in 2014 required licensure and significant regulation of all daycares which take federal funds.  Many church daycare operations in Alabama had begun accepting those funds.  This created the ministry versus for-profit dichotomy which has now created the confusion.

HB76 is protection for proper church daycare ministries from regulation which is being forced by the federal government on the State Department of Human Resources ("DHR").  While DHR is often seen as the enemy, it is a public agency created to protect the public good.  There must be a line at which it may not transgress when it comes to religious freedom.  HB76 maintains the 1981 church daycare licensure exemption.

DHR must distinguish between legitimate church ministry and other operations.  HB76 clarifies the law to provide that churches operating legitimate ministries will send in a minimum of paperwork, most of which is already required, to validify their operations.  If a church cannot provide that information, it would be subject to inspection.  The only other time the bill permits an inspection by DHR is if there is reasonable cause to believe that a child is in danger.  This is a stringent requirement.  Last year, advocates wanted annual inspections by DHR and that is what ultimately killed the bill.  They gave up that requirement this year.

Child advocates are strident in their support for the bill.  They speak only about protecting children.  Most of their examples occur in licensed agencies.  Merely being licensed does not stop human error.  However, we cannot become disoriented in our effort but must work through the process to address changes in the real world that have occurred over the last 38 years while at the same time protecting the integrity of church ministry.  That is what advocates for legitimate church ministry have done in coming up with this compromise bill.

The bill approved in committee today does not require licensure.  As long as a church operates on the basis of its own principles and with its own funds, there is no improper interference by DHR.  Licensure and more significant regulation only occurs if the church is in taking the federal or state funds for its support.  Through decades of religious liberty litigation, we have never been able to adequately argue that regulation does not come with government funding.

Annual inspections are required by fire and health departments.  That is already the fact.  Those reports must be turned in annually.  Routine fire and safety inspections should be made in churches, as well as other venues.  There is a requirement for a church to carry property, casualty and liability insurance, but not health insurance as some have reported.  Any reputable entity, church or otherwise, should be properly insured for its own protection, as well as for providing relief to injured persons.  These type requirements are not burdensome and improper, but realistic.  Criminal background checks are already required by current law, a necessity in today's culture.

Actually, very little of the existing law is changed.  The only real substantive change is the distinction between federally supported and self-supported church daycare operations.  There was a suggestion that HB76 is a foot in the door for future church regulation.  This bill adds a provision not in existing law that clearly says that even the religious teaching or practices of a licensed faith-based childcare facility are not infringed.  Clearly, remaining exempt, as the bill states, maintains the proper separation of church and state.

We regret the confusion created by our friends who feel compelled to express their opinions.  They have a right to do so.  We hope they will study the issue more closely and confer with those who have spent hundreds of hours coming to this conclusion.  If they will do so, we believe they will understand how to apply the principles they so clearly articulate.

AEJ/pmm
                                                                                           

Legislative Update - Week 3

In this week's update I will discuss four issues:
1) SB1 - Ignition interlock devices
2) SB13 - Marriage licenses
3) HB76 - Daycare Bill
4) Congressional House of Representatives passage of Rep. Bradley Byrne's bill benefiting the Poarch Band of Creek Indians

1) SB1 (Senate Bill 1), sponsored by Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville, AL), passed out of the Senate after several amendments were added. The major amendment placed a "sunset" on the law after 5 years, which means that the law will end after 5 years unless the Legislature renews it before then. The thinking is that this will give time to gather statistics on the effectiveness of requiring interlock devices on the cars of individuals convicted of a DUI (Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or other drugs) after their first offense. Other states who already have this law in place have seen a substantial reduction in repeat DUI offenders. ALCAP supports any laws that will reduce the number of people killed or injured due to drunk driving.

2) SB13, sponsored by Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Bay Minette, AL), eliminates marriage licenses in the state. For several years, ALCAP has been warning pastors and churches that changes in the definition of marriage were going to have a major impact on churches and Bible-believing followers of Christ and we have urged pastors to get engaged in the cultural battle before it was too late. Sadly, the shift in the culture happened even faster that many of us predicted. Three or four years ago, ALCAP's legal advisor, Eric Johnston, tried to get the Alabama Legislature to address the problems associated with same-sex marriage in a pre-emptive manner, but no one seemed interested. After the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in the Obergefell v Hodges case in June 2015, our culture entered an entirely new world, completely unlike anything we have seen before.

In light of the Obergefell v Hodges case and, in order to protect the religious freedoms of probate judges and other civil servants who, as followers of Christ and who share our convictions that same-sex marriages go against God's definition of marriage, from being forced to perform same-sex marriages, SB13, while not ideal, is about the only option we have left in our current situation. Amendments were added to the bill in committee that may be important if the Obergefell v Hodges case is ever overturned, so that was certainly good.

Sen. Albritton has pointed out that before about 1925, all marriages were handled the way this bill establishes. Couples would simply go to the courthouse and register their marriage. There were no marriage licenses. The idea of the State licensing marriages was begun as a practice to curb the tide of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and in order to get a license, couples had to get a blood test. The requirement for a blood test was ended several years ago, so that motivation for the State licensing marriages is no longer present.

Churches and various faith groups may still require a marriage ceremony in order for marriages to be recognized within their own belief system, but the State (if this bill passes the House and is signed by the Governor) will no longer be involved in the "marriage business." Pastors will no longer be required to sign marriage licenses and send them to the local probate judge, but couples will be required to go to the courthouse and register their marriage. Many churches have presented couples with a certificate of marriage, acknowledging the date and location of their marriage ceremony, and I would encourage churches to continue (or begin) this practice. While the State may stop officially requiring a marriage ceremony, churches should continue to follow God's Word in this matter.

I am available to speak to groups of pastors on this and other issues (or recommend individuals who can do so). Feel free to email me or call my office (205.985.9062) to schedule a meeting in your area.

3) HB76, sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee, AL), deals with church-sponsored daycares. When the bill was first introduced last year it required all church daycares in Alabama to be licensed by the Department of Human Resources, but it was amended so that the religious freedoms of churches were protected. The bill passed the House last year, but failed to pass the Senate. This year's version is almost identical to the final version from last year, but with three additional amendments that the Alabama Christian Educators Association insisted be added. We feel that this bill is one that ALCAP can support. It both protects children and the religious freedoms of churches. For a better explanation of this bill, click here for a statement from ALCAP's legal advisor, Eric Johnston.

4) The following statement concerning the Poarch Indian legal fix, passed by the United States House of Representatives, was prepared by Eric Johnston and released this week by ALCAP, Eagle Forum of Alabama and the Southeast Law Institute. I ask that you especially read the "ADDITIONAL NOTE" I added at the end of the statement concerning Rep. Gary Palmer's rumored support of this bill. (Spoiler alert: Rep. Palmer did NOT support this bill!)

ALCAP 
Contact: Joe Godfrey
Phone: (205) 612-1917

EAGLE FORUM OF ALABAMA
Contact: Eunie Smith
Phone: (205) 879-7096

SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE
Contact: A. Eric Johnston
Phone: (205) 408-8893

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
January 23, 2018

POARCH INDIAN LEGAL FIX NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF ALABAMA 

Last Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Land Reaffirmation Act which gives the Poarch Band of Creek Indians recognition as an Indian tribe under federal law. This is a fix for the Poarch Indians to save their gambling enterprises.

In Carcieri v. Salazar (2009), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Indian tribes not recognized in 1934 could not hold tribal land in trust. If an Indian tribe cannot hold land in trust, it cannot operate gambling enterprises. Though there have been attempts to address this issue in the courts, none have been determinative of the issue for the Poarch Indians, who were not recognized as an Indian tribe until 1984. 
In Rape v. Poarch Band of Creek Indians (2017), the Alabama Supreme Court ruled the tribe did not meet the federal standard. This state court ruling is not, however, determinative of the issue, but provides a sound foundation for the legal fact that the Poarch Indians are operating unlawfully.

The Alabama Supreme Court also found that the type of gambling conducted by the Poarch Indians in Alabama was unlawful, but state courts do not have jurisdiction to prosecute Indian operations. It is not bingo permitted by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and violates the very explicit and numerous rulings by the Alabama Supreme Court that the electronic bingo taking place in both Indian and non-Indian venues violates the Alabama Constitution and its criminal laws.

The Land Reaffirmation Act attempts to lay a basis for permitting legal operations by the Poarch Indians. The obvious conclusion is that they seek to legalize their gambling and to expand their gambling which may include entering into a compact with the State of Alabama. This would allow unlimited types of gambling.
  
Gambling is a regressive tax. It is addictive. It injures families. It results in reduced sales tax collections. It does not help the State of Alabama.

Currently, we have other unlawful gambling operations taking place at VictoryLand and other non-Indian venues. Expanding the Poarch Indians' ability to gamble will only embolden the non-Indian gamblers, who will be seeking nothing more than to be treated equally.

Gambling is a multi-million dollar business. It is an improper way for the state to build its tax structure. It puts millions of dollars in the hands of gamblers who would in turn become kingmakers in the political processes of the State of Alabama.

Senator Richard Shelby's vote is necessary for this bill to pass. We thank him for his position against the bill and encourage him to remain firm in that commitment. We are also grateful for Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall taking a strong position against this legislation. They are all concerned with the welfare of the people of the State of Alabama. [NOTE: This is in no way an endorsement of Kay Ivey or Steve Marshall, but we are grateful for their stated opposition to this bill.]

ADDITIONAL NOTE:
Since this statement was written by ALCAP's legal advisor, Eric Johnston, we have been in contact with Rep. Gary Palmer.  Rumors were floated that all of the Alabama Congressional Delegation had supported Rep. Byrne's bill.  However, Rep. Palmer explained to me that this is not true.  Rep. Byrne got his bill passed by a voice vote when only a handful of congressmen/women were present on the floor.  Unlike the rules in the Alabama Legislature where all representatives and senators representing a certain area must agree on "local legislation," this is not true in Congress.  Rep. Palmer assured me that he remains adamantly opposed to Rep. Byrne's bill because of its implications on gambling.

AEJ/pmm
                                                                                                              

Legislative Update - Week 2

Due to winter weather problems last week in the Alabama Legislature was disrupted. Legislators met on Tuesday for a brief time, but postponed Wednesday committee meetings since state offices were closed due to the snow and ice. When they reconvened on Thursday, both houses again met briefly and a few bills were passed.
 
Senate bills being monitored by ALCAP that received a 2nd reading and now may be brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote include the following:
 
SB1 - Driving under the influence, ignition interlock provisions further provided for...
SB20 - "Drowsy Driving" bill
SB28 - Sexual crimes against students
SB39 - Schedule I controlled substances including additional drugs
SB151 - Terrorist threats, crime further defined
SB170 - Police powers, Indian tribes, authorized for Poarch Creek
 
House bills being monitored by ALCAP that received a 2nd reading and now may brought to the floor of the House for a vote include the following:
 
HB26 - Smoking tobacco products inside motor vehicle when children are present
HB27 - Sexual crimes against students
HB38 - Parental rights of any person committing rape terminated
HB57 - Domestic violence
HB59 - Domestic violence
HB77 - Childersburg Sunday alcohol sales
HB84 - Schedule I controlled substances expanded
HB207 - Dale County alcoholic beverages issue
HB208 - Ozark alcoholic beverages Sunday sales
HB210 - Dale county alcoholic beverages Sunday sales
 
Legislators sponsoring bills that are local in nature (Dale County, Ozark, Childersburg, etc.) need to hear from local pastors and church members. If you live in any of these communities, please contact your House member and/or Senator and ask them to stop pushing passage of these bills.
 
This Wednesday, January 24, we expect several pro-life bills to be in committee. Pray that these bills will pass out of committee and be sent to the full House or Senate for a vote. The pro-life bills include:
 
 
We also hope that a human trafficking bill (SB179) will pass out of committee on Wednesday.
 
If you live in Rep. Danny Crawford's district, please let him know that you oppose HB32 that he is sponsoring. This bill would allow a marina to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises and off-premises consumption. Rep. Crawford is a good man, but local leaders are pushing for this expansion of alcohol.
 
Thank you for your continued prayers for ALCAP! Please let your legislators hear from you, as well as talking to the Lord about these bills!
                                                                                                                               

2017

Legislative Update - Week 13 (Last Week of the Session)

The Alabama Legislature adjourned for the last time during the 2017 Regular Session on Friday, May 19, but there is talk that a Special Session may be called sometime during the summer. During the last week of the session, the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) bill (HB354) was brought to the floor of the Senate TWICE, but both times there were enough people lined up to speak against the bill that it was carried over. Because State Senators were working to get last minute bills passed during the closing days of the session, they did not want to take up any bills that would require lengthy filibusters, so we were successful in stopping the DFS bill this year. We expect it to come back next year (or even during the Special Session, should one be called by the Governor). It is important for everyone to contact their House Member and State Senator during the current break in sessions and encourage him/her to oppose the DFS bill when it comes up again.

Besides being bad for the economy, an unnamed source has confirmed what we were already saying - that if Daily Fantasy Sports betting is legalized, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians will be able to force Alabama to sign a compact allowing them to open full-fledged casinos with Class III gambling (roulette, black jack, etc.) and possibly even opening new casinos around the state. Though an amendment was added to HB354 that stated this bill would not give Indians an opening for signing a compact with the state, it would not have mattered because the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Commission alone determines what constitutes Class III gambling and what would force a compact to be signed.

Several local Sunday alcohol sales bills passed this session. Some of those bills require only a vote of the city council or county commission without a vote of the people. Some, however, require a vote of the people. If your community needs help fighting a Sunday alcohol sale vote, please check out our website, www.alcap.com for resources. I am also available to come to your community to lead a rally or share with church leaders.

One bill, HB353, passed both the House and Senate. This bill, known as the "Brunch Bill," would allow any municipality or county that currently has Sunday alcohol sales to move the start time from noon (or 1:00 p.m. in some locations) to 10:30 a.m. ALCAP opposed this bill, but we did manage to get an amendment that requires a vote of the people if Sunday sales were originally decided by a vote of the people.

HB277, the Daycare Bill, passed the House, but failed to pass the Senate. Because of the complexities and controversies surrounding this bill, I asked our legal advisor, Eric Johnston, to write a summary of what happened with this bill. You can click here to read his synopsis.

Thank you for your prayers throughout the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature. As I have stated in the past, though I am a registered lobbyist, I am more accurately your missionary to the Alabama Legislature, sharing a biblical perspective on the issues with legislators and ministering to everyone who works in the Alabama State House.

We will continue to work on these issues throughout the summer and fall, and we will be giving more time to improving our school programs (American Character Builders) during this time. Your financial support is still needed. We are entering the summer months having received about $12,000 less than we had received by this time last year, so we desperately need your prayer and financial support. If you or your church have not given anything to ALCAP and/or American Character Builders, please consider sending a check for $100 today in order to help us through the summer.  You may also click here to make an online donation.
                                                                                              

Urgent! Call Your State Senator Today!

HB354, the bill that will legalize Daily Fantasy Sports, is expected to be on the Special Order Calendar in the State Senate tomorrow (Wednesday, May 17).  It is important and urgent for you to contact your state senator and ask him/her to oppose HB354!
 
Click here to read why this pro-gambling bill is so dangerous!
 
Call TODAY!
                                                                                                   

Legislative Update - Week 12

As the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature enters its final days, this past week was uneventful concerning the issues being monitored by ALCAP.

Several local Sunday alcohol sales bills passed out of committees and/or one or both of the two chambers, but most of the week was focused on the General Fund Budget and the Education Trust Fund Budget.

The House wasted two days this week on redistricting. The courts ordered that the redistricting plan passed in 2012 was unacceptable after African-American legislators protested that too much gerrymandering had occurred, so new district lines are being drawn and passed in both the Senate and the House. A House member called for a complete reading of the bill that details the redistricting plan for the House districts, and since the bill is over 500 pages, it took the reading machine several hours on Tuesday and almost 12 hours on Thursday to read through the entire bill. The House then voted at 9:50 p.m. Thursday night to pass the legislation. They spent the remainder of the evening (until adjournment at midnight), voting on other bills. Each bill was filibustered and they had to vote to cloture each filibuster.

The Senate was a little more active, but no ALCAP-monitored bills were debated. We are concerned that this upcoming week (the last week of the session) may see the Daily Fantasy Sports bill (HB354) being brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Please contact your State Senator before Tuesday and ask him/her to vote NO on HB354 if it comes up for a vote.

We are also waiting for HB277, the "Child Care Bill," to come to the Senate for debate. The bill has been amended so that it provides protections for children while also protecting religious freedom for churches, so we are now encouraging passage of the amended bill.

The leadership in the House and Senate have said that they may end the session on Thursday, but they reserve the option of coming back on Friday if necessary. The Constitution limits the legislature to 30 legislative days within a 105-day period, but they are not required to meet for 30 days.

Continue to pray for our legislators and Governor Ivey during this last week of the 2017 Legislative Session.
                                                                                                          

Legislative Update - Week 11

House Bill (HB) 24, the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo and Sen. Bill Hightower, was finally signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey thanks to the prayers, the contacts and the encouragement of many of you in our ALCAP family! This bill will protect faith-based adoption agencies from being forced to place children in homes that do not comply with the religious beliefs of the agencies.

For more information on all of the pro-life bills that were supported by ALCAP, click here to read a report from ALCAP's legal advisor, Eric Johnston.

HB277, the Daycare Bill, sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week with some positive amendments.  Click on the following links to read both amendments: Amendment 1; Amendment 2. This bill will now go to the full Senate for a vote. If it passes, as amended, it will have to go back to the House for concurrence. We hope that the bill will pass and be signed into law by Gov. Ivey. The bill will protect children, while maintaining the religious liberty of churches. We are grateful for everyone who has worked on this bill.

HB505, the Sex Education Bill, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd, has passed out of committee, but has not been brought to the full House for debate. This bill originally contained language that was of great concern to ALCAP, but legislators on the committee amended the bill to remove the most problematic language. As the bill currently stands, it simply removes language concerning the illegality of homosexual relationships (since the Supreme Court's ruling in the Obergefell Case) and updates the terminology now in use in the medical and scientific community. The bill does not require that sex education be taught, but only gives guidelines to use if it is taught.

HB354, the Daily Fantasy Sports Bill, sponsored by Rep. Alan Boothe, having passed the House a couple of weeks ago, passed out of the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee this week. It can be placed on the calendar for debate in the Senate at any time, but with only six legislative days left in this session, we hope that other important bills will take precedence. However, since big companies are driving this legislation in states throughout the nation, they will probably push for passage up until the last day of the legislature. We have asked a number of Senators to filibuster and/or, at least, not vote to cloture a filibuster so that we can keep this bill from passing. It only requires a simple majority to pass, even though ALCAP contends that since Daily Fantasy Sports is gambling, it should require two-thirds of each house and be a Constitutional Amendment for the people of Alabama to vote on.

I ask that you contact your State Senator as soon as possible and urge him/her to vote "NO" on HB354. If this bill passes, it could open the door for full-fledged Class III (casino) gambling in Alabama! Do not delay; call or email today!

Several local Sunday alcohol sale bills have been introduced. I would urge you to contact your local legislators, as well as county and city officials, and ask them to stop pushing for Sunday alcohol sales in your community. One bill, HB353, sponsored by Rep. Juandalynn Givan, will allow county and municipal leaders to move the start time for Sunday alcohol sales from noon (or 1:00 p.m. in some communities) to 10:30 a.m. We did manage to get an amendment added that requires a vote of the people if the original Sunday alcohol sales decision was made by a referendum, but if this bill passes, the expansion of alcohol in our state will continue with no regard to the families and individuals who are hurt by it.

Please keep praying for the ALCAP ministry. We continue to have financial needs and with the summer months approaching, when receipts are typically down, we need your financial support more than ever!
                                                                                                              

Governor Ivey Signs HB24

Great news!  Because of your prayers, phone calls and emails, Governor Ivey signed HB24, the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, into law without an executive amendment!  Governor Ivey signed the bill on Wednesday, May 3.
 
Thank you for taking action to insure the religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies in Alabama!
 
Be sure to thank Governor Ivey for doing the right thing in this important issue:

Contact the Governor's office:
Call: 1-334-242-7100
Email by going to: governor.Alabama.gov/contact
                                                                                                                

It is Urgent That You Contact Governor Ivey

The following email is from ALCAP's legal advisor and director of the Southeast Law Institute, Eric Johnston...

Begin forwarded message:

Friends,

This is a request for immediate action. HB24, Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, has passed both the House and Senate with a wide majority. It has gone to Governor Ivey for signature. However, she intends to add an unnecessary and superfluous amendment. This may cause later interpretation problems with the law, or it may slow down the process enough (it must go back to the House and Senate for concurrence) that the Session will end and the bill will die.

This bill protects church and religious operated state licensed adoption agencies from being required to make same sex adoption placements in violation of their religious beliefs based on scriptural marriage. With the 2015 Obergefell SCOTUS opinion legalizing same sex marriage, regulations are expected requiring same sex marriage placements. Already in Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, DC and San Francisco, Christian adoption agencies have closed.

Adoption is an important alternative to abortion. We cannot afford to close down 30% of Alabama adoptions done by the affected agencies.

We have been opposed throughout the legislative process by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a heavily financed LGBTQ lobbying organization, abortion interests and others. Now, we are told that Google, AT&T and Apple are pressuring Governor Ivey to add the amendment. 

This issue is about more that protecting innocent life, it is about the very essence of religious freedom. In committee, Christians were said to be intolerant and discriminatory. Our religious beliefs must be secondary to the rights of homosexuals. 

This is our first confrontation in Alabama with the gay rights agenda. If we do not stand firm now, we will face increased opposition. Those organizations that oppose us because of what we believe, will coalesce and we will find we have little or no voice in protecting our values. Large corporations, gay rights advocates, abortion interests, gambling interests, and you name it, will be telling us how to live. Our sincerely held religious beliefs dictate against what they want.

We must contact Governor Ivey and tell her to protect the freedom of religion in Alabama, her churches and their members. She must sign the bill as it is. She must not add an executive amendment. She must do it now without delay.

Contact the Governor's office:
Call: 1-334-242-7100
Email by going to: governor.Alabama.gov/contact

I urge you to circulate this email, contact your constituents, churches, other organizations and others requesting that beginning early Monday morning and continuing throughout the week , they contact Governor Ivey with this message. Time is of the essence. Thank you.
                                                                                                  

Legislative Update - Week 10

Another busy week at the Alabama Legislature!  Click here for a report from the Southeast Law Institute's Eric Johnston, ALCAP's legal advisor, concerning HB277 (the daycare licensing bill) and HB440 (the Youth Residential Prevention Act).

In addition to these bills, HB354 (the Daily Fantasy Sports gambling legalization bill), which passed out of the House of Representatives last week by a narrow margin of only 5 votes, was in the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee on Wednesday of this week.  The chairman, Sen. Del Marsh, allowed for a public hearing on the bill and ALCAP was able to address our concerns with this pro-gambling bill.  A lawyer representing the largest Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) companies, FanDuel and DraftKings, tried to counter ALCAP's comments, but fell short and actually reinforced the facts presented by ALCAP.  The chairman agreed to postpone a vote of the committee until next week.  Please contact members of the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee before Wednesday, May 3, and ask them to vote NOT to give the bill a favorable report.  Then call your State Senator and ask him or her to oppose HB354 (the Daily Fantasy Sports bill) if it comes to the full Senate for a vote.
 
The House, on Tuesday, passed HB353 (the "Sunday Brunch Bill").  This bill will allow any county or municipality that currently has Sunday alcohol sales to begin selling alcohol at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings instead of noon or 1:00 p.m. (as some local ordinances currently allow).  One problem with this bill is that, while some counties and municipalities were able to get Sunday alcohol sales with a simple vote of the local governing authorities, many required a vote of the people.  Some of the counties and municipalities that had a vote of the people did so in the form of a constitutional amendment.  If your area passed Sunday alcohol sales by a constitutional amendment, HB353 does not apply to you because a statute cannot override a constitutional amendment.  But, some counties and municipalities passed Sunday alcohol sales by a referendum (not a constitutional amendment).  These counties and municipalities could have been impacted by this bill because it would allow their local governing bodies to override the vote of the people.  However, Rep. Steve Clouse managed to get an amendment to the bill that would prevent county and municipality officials from moving the start time to 10:30 a.m. if their local ordinance had been passed by a referendum of the people.
 
This bill now goes to the Senate for a vote.  Please contact your State Senator and ask him or her to oppose HB353.
 
HB24 (the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo) protects child-placing organizations that have certain religious requirements from having to place children with couples that do not meet their agency's criteria.  This bill passed the House and Senate, and has now gone to Governor Ivey's office for her signature.  Governor Ivey has requested an executive amendment be added that we are currently studying.  As soon as we know whether or not this amendment is acceptable, we will let you know the bill's status and if there is action you may need to take.
 
Continue to pray for the Alabama Legislature and Governor Ivey.  There are only nine days left in the 2017 Legislative Session and the expected final day of the Session will be May 18.
                                                                                         

Legislative Update - Week 9

It was a very busy week. On Tuesday, the House passed HB354 (the Daily Fantasy Sports Bill). There was a great deal of confusion on the floor during the proceedings. First, it was announced by the Speaker that the Budget Isolation Resolution (BIR) vote, which requires two-thirds of the members voting in order to pass, had failed. [NOTE: The BIR is a procedural vote that allows for bills to come to the floor for debate. Until the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund Budgets are passed, all other bills must receive a BIR vote. Once the budgets are passed, the BIR vote is no longer necessary.]

Before the next bill was brought up, Rep. John Rogers called for "Reconsideration." A vote on a particular bill (or procedural vote) can be "reconsidered" one time within 24 hours of the first vote. The vote to reconsider passed, so the House members voted on the BIR a second time. This time the BIR again failed to pass according to the numbers on the monitor. Then, after much deliberation around the Speaker's desk, the Speaker announced that the voting machine was not functioning properly and after checking the individual votes, they had determined that the BIR did actually pass, so HB354 was brought up for debate.

During the lengthy debate a couple of good amendments, presented by Rep. Mike Jones, were passed. We are concerned that those amendments, which place greater restrictions on the Daily Fantasy Sports companies may be stripped from the bill in the Senate. When the vote on final passage of the bill was taken, the bill only passed by a narrow margin of 5 votes. You can click here to see how your House member voted.

HB354 now goes to the Senate. We need for a groundswell of people to contact their State Senator and encourage him/her to OPPOSE HB354. To understand how dangerous this online gambling bill is (even though proponents argue that it is not gambling), you can click here to read what Stop Predatory Gambling has written about this deceptive enterprise. You can also click here to watch the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) documentary, Frontline, from 2016 about Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Forty-three minutes into the documentary, the producers interviewed a young man from Auburn, AL, Josh Adams, who lost $20,000 playing DFS. You can also read the New York Times story about Josh Adams by clicking here.

Another bill, HB277, sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren, would have required church daycares to be licensed by the Department of Human Resources (DHR) and meet all of that department's minimum standards in order to operate. While everyone agreed that we want to protect the safety of children, many churches felt that this government intrusion into local church ministries was unnecessary. The problem that this bill was intended to address was "pop-up" daycares that were using the name of a church to avoid having to be licensed by DHR and then applying for federal and/or state assistance in order to make money. A compromise bill was presented on the floor by Rep. Jim Carns that will both protect children and protect the religious freedom of churches. Basically, the agreement was that daycares receiving government subsidies must be licensed whether they are a church or not. Also, DHR may do an annual inspection of all church daycares to make sure that children are being safely cared for. We are grateful to many who helped in reaching this compromise, but especially Eric Johnston (Southeast Law Institute and ALCAP's legal advisor), Robin Mears (executive director of the Alabama Christian Educators Association), Melanie Bridgeforth (executive director of VOICES for Alabama's Children) and all the legislators who worked hard to negotiate this agreement. Special thanks should go to Rep. Warren for bringing this important issue to everyone's attention.

To read the vote counts on HB277 and to see how your House member voted, click here. To read the final version of the bill, click here. The bill now goes to the Senate. We will keep you informed of any changes that might be made to the bill.

HB24 (the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act), sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo, passed the Senate on Tuesday with one amendment, and now must go back to the House for concurrence (which we expect to take place on Tuesday, April 25). This bill protects church-affiliated adoption agencies from being required to place children for adoption in homes that do not comply with their religious views.

Three pro-life bills also passed the Senate on Thursday: HB96 (the Assisted Suicide Ban Act), sponsored by Rep. Mack Butler; HB95 (the Health Care Providers Protection Act), sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney; and HB98 (the "Alabama's Commitment to the Right to Life Constitutional Amendment"), sponsored by Rep. Matt Fridy [NOTE: HB98 is a constitutional amendment which will be on a statewide ballot in order to be ultimately approved by the voters of Alabama]. We celebrate the passage of HB24 and all three of the pro-life bills!
                                                                                                  

Legislative Update - Week 8

Rather than reporting on the past week (I'm not sure I can add anything to the news of the Governor's resignation), I want to focus attention on one bill that is on the Special Order calendar in the House next Tuesday, April 18.  House Bill (HB) 354 is the second bill on the calendar.  This bill, by Rep. Alan Boothe, will legalize online gambling in Alabama in the form of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).

Proponents argue that it is not gambling, but a game of skill.  However, many, including casino owners in Las Vegas, have stated that it IS gambling.  DFS is not season-long, league play between friends and family.  Rather, it is big business in which big companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel will be the biggest winners. Players compete against hundreds of thousands of people around the world and can play on a daily basis.

We need for church members and pastors to contact their House Members in large numbers!  If you can come to the Alabama State House on Tuesday and speak to your House Member personally, please do so!

To read the facts about Daily Fantasy Sports, click here.  Click here for a PBS documentary on Daily Fantasy Sports.  To find your House Member's contact information, click here.

PLEASE HELP US STOP THIS PRO-GAMBLING BILL!
                                                                                              

Legislative Update - Week 7

After two weeks of spring break, legislators returned to Montgomery on April 4. We are now half way through the session and so far, none of the pro-gambling bills have been advanced. We continue to hear that everyone is waiting for the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (Gambling) to make its report before proceeding with any gambling legislation. We expect that report to be ready by mid-April, which may be too late for any gambling bills to get passed during this session.

Having said that, the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) gambling bills have already passed out of committees in both the House (HB354) and Senate (SB270), but have not been placed on the calendars of either house for full floor debate. The Senate leaders have indicated they will not address this issue until the House passes a DFS bill, so we are watching the House very carefully. We will let you know if any movement takes place, but feel free to contact your House member and State Senator any time and let them know of your objection to these bills.

HB277 that requires church daycares to be licensed by the Department of Human Resources (DHR) continues to be undergoing "behind the scenes" negotiations. While everyone wants to protect children, there is also a concern about protecting the religious freedom of churches. We hope to be able to report that a compromise has been worked out before the bill is placed on the calendar in the House.

Marijuana legalization/commercialization is not moving in the legislature, but it has become a "hot topic" on social media and in the secular media in Alabama. Churches need to begin equipping themselves for this growing issue. ALCAP and our educational program, American Character Builders, have resources you can use to educate your church members on this issue. Sadly, even many church members are beginning to argue that people should be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes. We are quickly approaching a cultural mentality not unlike that of ancient Israel as described in the Book of Judges, "Every man did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6 and 21:25)

The pro-life bills passed in the House before spring break are currently making their way through the Senate. As soon as we know what day the Senate will take up these bills, we will let you know.

It is expected that this coming week the House will spend much of its time engaged in the impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley. Be in prayer for everyone involved in this issue. Pray for Governor Bentley and his staff. Pray for the House members as they seek to make the right decisions. Pray for the senators, if they are called on to try the impeachment case. Pray for Lt. Governor Kay Ivey and her staff in the event she assumes the duties of the Governor. Pray for our state as we all struggle through this serious issue.
                                                                        

Legislative Update - Week 6

This week in the Alabama Legislature might be one of the most significant weeks in recent years!  Most weeks during the Regular Session there are only two legislative days, plus a day or two of committee meetings.  This week there were three legislative days, and on the last day, the Alabama House of Representatives passed the following four important pro-life bills:

HB98 (sponsored by Rep. Matt Fridy) is a constitutional amendment that the people of Alabama must approve.  If passed by the Senate and by the voters on a state-wide ballot, this amendment will constitutionalize Alabama's commitment to the right of life of unborn children.

HB95 (the Health Care Rights of Conscience Act, sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney) will protect health care providers who decline to perform services that violate their consciences.  There are exceptions included in the legislation. 

HB96 (the Assisted Suicide Ban Act, sponsored by Rep. Mack Butler) will make it illegal for individuals or health care providers to provide aid in dying under certain conditions.

HB24 (the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo) will prohibit the state from discriminating against child care service providers under certain conditions.
 
Now these bills must go to the Senate for a vote.  As a constitutional amendment, HB98, if it passes the Senate will not go to the Governor's desk, but will go directly on a future ballot for the people of Alabama to decide.  The other bills, if they pass the Senate, will go to the Governor for his signature.  Please call your State Senator and ask him/her to vote YES on all four of these bills.
 
In other news, HB277 (sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren) has been carried over until various parties can work out a compromise that will both protect children and the religious freedom of churches.  We will keep you posted as decisions are made.
 
HB353 (sponsored by Rep. Juandalynn Givan) did not receive enough votes to be brought to the floor of the House for a vote.  This bill would have allowed alcohol to be sold on Sundays, beginning at 10:30 a.m. instead of the current time of 12:00 noon.  ALCAP spoke against this bill in a public hearing and we are grateful that enough House members realized that this bill is not good for the people of Alabama.  It can come up again, but only after both the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund Budgets have passed both houses (which doesn't usually happen until near the end of the legislative session).
 
Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support of ALCAP.  Please call your legislators and thank them for their votes on the pro-life bills. We hope to have the voting record for each pro-life bill at a later date..
                                                                                                                                                       

Legislative Update - Week 5

Week #5 of the Alabama Legislature was one of the busiest so far this 2017 Session and there is much to report, but before I do, I want to share with you important information about this upcoming week.  Thursday, March 16, 2017, has been designated as “PRO-LIFE DAY” at the Alabama Legislature.  On that day, the House of Representatives will be working to pass several important pro-life bills.  

We are coordinating with House leadership, to have a presence inside the statehouse.  We need as many people as possible to be there that day.  People need to call on their House member and sit in the gallery or overflow rooms to watch the debate.  We do not yet know what time the House will begin.  We will let you know as soon as they set the time.  The day is likely to be long, so people need to come anytime they can, they do not need to be there all day.  Please alert everyone in your database and in your church to this event and follow up.  We need to show the House we respect their willingness to move these pro-life bills.  This may be the most important day of the session.  If we do not make a good showing, it will damage our cause.  Thank you for you help.

This past week ALCAP was able to present information on Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) online gambling to two different committees.  The Senate committee indicated they will not act on the bill until it passes the House.  The House committee did not vote to send their version of the bill to the full House on the day of the public hearing, but we anticipate that they will do so, possibly next week.  It is important for everyone to let their House member and state Senator know that they oppose this legislation.  If you have not already contacted your legislators about the Daily Fantasy Sports online gambling issue, please contact him or her as soon as possible.  For more information on DFS, watch the documentary from PBS and click here for the Stop Predatory Gambling’s white paper on the subject.

A bill that would lower the penalties for marijuana use in Alabama was scheduled to have a public hearing, but the sponsor, Rep. Patricia Todd, was ill, so that public hearing has been postponed.  ALCAP did speak at a public hearing on a bill that would allow Sunday alcohol sales in municipalities and counties where it is legal to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings instead of the current 12:00 noon start time.  Having alcohol available only six days a week is not enough, and now, apparently, waiting until noon to start selling it on Sundays is not enough!  (Of course, I’m being facetious!)  With no regard for the destructive nature of alcohol, “ Big Alcohol” will not be satisfied until unlimited alcohol (a mind-altering and addictive drug, mind you) is available 24/7 and in every square inch of the state of Alabama.  And, consider this: The same will happen with marijuana and gambling.  Whenever we “give in” to these addictive “products,” they always want more!  And, who
 suffers? — We all do, but especially families and children!

We had hoped to work out a compromise on HB277 that would protect children, while also protecting religious freedom and the separation of church and state. HB277 would require church day cares to be licensed by the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR).  When Eric Johnston, our legal advisor, and Robin Mears, executive director of the Alabama Christian Educators Association, met with the VOICES for Alabama's Children representatives and others, no compromise was reached.  Though our representatives worked in good faith to solve the problem, some on the other side were unwilling to negotiate in good faith.  However, our recommendations have been taken to the legal department of DHR and we are awaiting their response.  We hope they will agree with our propo
sals and we can solve this dilemma.  However, if they do not agree, ALCAP will join other groups in opposing HB277.  We will keep you updated as this process continues.

I beg you to be engaged in our culture!  Know what is going on in your own community, as well as the state and national level.  Stand up and speak out for everything that is good and 
right, and oppose the forces of evil around us.  God has called His people to be “salt & light!”

At our annual ALCAP Board meeting on Tuesday of this past week, we presented former state Senator, Hank Erwin, with this year’s "ALCAP Dan Ireland Salt & Light Award.”  We are grateful for Sen. Erwin’s service to our state and, since leaving the legislature, his efforts to promote the family-values motion pictures produced by his two sons (such as “October Baby,” “Mom’s Night Out,” and most recently, “Woodlawn”).



                                                                                                                 

Help ALCAP Generate Calls in Opposition to HB364

House Bill (HB) 354, Daily Fantasy Sports Bill, sponsored by Rep. Alan Boothe, will be in the House State Government Committee this Wednesday, March 8, at 3:00 p.m., in the State House Room #429.

Your legislators need to hear from you!!!  As Sen. Tom Whatley states in an article from the Opelika-Auburn News, he has heard from 200 people who want it legalized and only one person who opposes it. Please help me generate calls in opposition!  Click here to find your legislator's contact information.

To read about the dangers of Daily Fantasy Sports, click here for a report from Stop Predatory Gambling. Click here for a PBS documentary on Daily Fantasy Sports. Please share this info with others and call your state legislator's today!!!
                                                                                        

Legislative Update - Week 4

On Wednesday, March 1, the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee was supposed to hold a public hearing on SB28 (sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley) which would legalize internet/online gambling in the form of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).  The meeting was cancelled and "rumor has it" that this bill is not the one that the DFS companies want.  So, two new DFS bills have been introduced in both the Senate (SB270, sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford) and in the House (HB354, sponsored by Rep. Alan Boothe).  This is not seasonal (or league) fantasy sports played between friends and family - this is DAILY Fantasy Sports, played by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, in which people often lose thousands of dollars every day!  DFS, if legalized, would essentially put a casino in the homes and on the mobile devises of every citizen in Alabama, including children and young people.
 
Last year, the Attorney General's office banned DFS from being played in Alabama and the Alabama House of Representatives could not get enough votes to pass the legislation to make it legal, but now the push to legalize it has been renewed. This push to legalize DFS is taking place in state legislatures across the nation because companies, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, stand to make millions of dollars by deceiving people into believing that they can be "big winners."  States that have Class III gambling (lotteries and/or casinos) have either banned DFS or they have required the companies to meet the same standards as other forms of gambling, acknowledging that DFS is, indeed, gambling.
 
I would encourage you to watch the documentary, "The Fantasy Sports Gamble" on the PBS program, "Frontline," (produced last year) to learn more about the addictive nature of DFS.  About 43 minutes and 15 seconds into the program, there is an interview with a young man from Auburn, AL who lost $20,000 playing DFS.  You can click here to watch the documentary.  After watching the program, call your legislators and let them know of your opposition to SB 28, SB270 and HB354. To read more about the dangers of DFS, click here for a report from www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.
 
Other pro-gambling bills are "on hold" until the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (Gambling) makes their final report and recommendations.  We anticipate that the last half of the Regular Session (which will come after the first of April) will see a flurry of activity focused on gambling.  Legislators are still telling me that the vast majority of people from whom they are hearing are in favor of legalizing a state-sponsored lottery.  It is important that those who oppose state-sponsored lotteries and state-sanctioned casinos, as well as Daily Fantasy Sports online/internet gambling, contact their legislators and get others to do the same.
 
On a different issue, ALCAP worked this week with the Alabama Christian Education Association's executive director, Robin Mears, and our own ALCAP legal advisor, Eric Johnston, to protect both children and religious freedom in this state.  Rep. Pebblin Warren has introduced a bill (HB277) that will require church daycare programs to be licensed by the state.  We commend Rep. Warren for wanting to protect children and their parents from "fly-by-night" daycares that are being established in the name of "bogus" or "pseudo" churches, but we also want to protect legitimate churches from government overreach into the ministries of those local churches.  Mr. Johnston and Mr. Mears believe there is a better solution to the problem than to require church daycare ministries to be licensed by the state.  We are working with Rep. Warren and other organizations that are concerned about this issue to come up with a bill that will accomplish both goals.
 
Continue to pray for and contact your legislators as the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature moves forward.
                                                                                                                      

Legislative Update - Week 3

This past Wednesday, several pro-alcohol bills were presented in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee (or as we kiddingly refer to it, "The Vice Committee"). Two of the bills were carried over, one of which would have allowed wineries to sell their product even though they were located in a dry county (on the condition that there is at least one wet municipality in the county, which means ALL dry counties, since every dry county now has at least one wet municipality). I met with the sponsor of the bill and explained that the reason municipal options were legalized was because rural citizens in these counties kept voting to "stay dry." Since wineries would be located in rural areas, this would be offensive to those living in these dry counties. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lynn Greer, decided to reintroduce his bill as a local bill that would only apply to a county in his district. If you live in Rep. Greer's district, you need to let him know of your opposition to this legislation (which does not yet have a bill number).

The other alcohol-related bill that was carried over was a bill allowing wine tasting in grocery stores. Both the House bill and the companion Senate bill were carried over after representatives of the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board told the sponsors of the bills that the ABC Board could handle the situation by existing regulations without a new law being imposed.

Two other alcohol-related bills involved community developments. One of these bills (HB47, sponsored by Rep. James Buskey) will allow a community development located in both a wet county and a dry county to sell alcohol at their restaurant, which will be located on the dry county side of the development. The other bill (HB57, sponsored by Rep. Ron Johnson) will allow Sunday alcohol sales at a community development that is located in a wet county, but does not allow Sunday alcohol sales. ALCAP called for public hearings on each bill and we explained that in both cases, they were allowing for alcohol sales in an area and on a day that the people of those counties had not voted to allow. Both bills were given a "favorable report" in spite of our request for "NO" votes, and will now go to the full House for debate and a vote.

The Senate Health Committee gave a favorable report to SB145, the Child Placing Inclusion Act, sponsored by Sen. Bill Hightower. This bill, if passed, will protect faith-based adoption agencies from being told by the government with whom they can or cannot place children for adoption. Though the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning) activists spoke out against the bill in the public hearing, the bill still received a favorable report and will go to the full Senate for a vote. The companion bill, HB24, sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo, was given a favorable vote last week in the House Health Committee. Which ever version of the bill passes its respective house first will go to the second house for a vote. Let your legislators know that you want a "YES" vote on HB24 and/or SB145, the Child Placing Inclusion Act.

Daily Fantasy Sports continues to be an issue that we believe is gaining momentum. Sen. Tom Whatley has already introduced SB28 that would legalize this form of internet gambling and we expect it to be in committee very soon. If you live in Sen. Whatley's district, let him know of your opposition to SB28 (Daily Fantasy Sports). Josh Adams, an Auburn, AL resident is featured in a PBS documentary on Daily Fantasy Sports. Mr. Adams lost a large sum of money gambling through the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) online companies. If you know Mr. Adams personally, I would love to talk with him. Sen. Whatley told me that he, too, would like to talk with Mr. Adams. To view the documentary, click here (Josh Adams' interview comes at the 43:15 point in the movie). To read more about the dangers of DFS, click here for a report from www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.

After the close of the legislative day on Thursday, February 23, the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (should be "Gambling") met once again. This time they heard from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians about what might be involved if the State should enter into a compact with the Tribe. During the discussion, it was interesting to note that Tribal leaders admitted that the difference between Class II bingo machines and Class III slot machines is negligible. This is what the Alabama Supreme Court has determined as true in several recent rulings, and that is why the so-called "electronic bingo machines" continue to be illegal in the State of Alabama. However, because the U.S. Department of Interior will not enforce the law that says Tribes cannot have any form of gambling not permitted by the state in which they are located, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians continues to operate their bingo/slot machines.

We will keep you informed as the Advisory Council continues its work. It's next meeting will be on March 9 and they will be hearing that day from lottery and casino operators and owners. We have been told that ALCAP will have an opportunity at the meeting after the next one (the date has not been decided) to present our case one last time.

Remember that we are engaged in a spiritual war and prayer is our most important weapon, so pray for us! But, also, remember that God may want to use you as an answer to prayer, so take action by contacting your legislators and letting them know where you stand on alcohol and gambling! (Click here to find your legislators and their contact information.)
                                                                                                              

Legislative Update - Week 2

The second week of the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature is now complete.  House Bill 70 (HB70), sponsored by Rep. Bill Poole passed out of committee and will go to the full House for a vote.  This bill lowers the age of majority from 19 to 18 years, but it originally included an exception for tobacco products, which would remain at 19 years old.  However, the original bill did not include an exception for alcohol.  The sponsor agreed to offer a substitute bill with language that keeps the purchase, possession and/or use of alcoholic beverages limited to age 21 and above.  We are grateful for Rep. Poole making sure that this correction was made before passing the bill out of committee.
 
Next week, the House Economic Development and Tourism (ED&T) Committee will hold public hearings on four alcohol-related bills and ALCAP plans to speak against each bill.  HB47 will allow a community development that meets certain criteria to sell alcoholic beverages even though part of the development will be located in a dry county.  According to the bill's sponsor, Rep. James Buskey, there was a mistake in last year's legislation and this bill simply corrects that error.
 
HB57, sponsored by Rep. Ron Johnson will allow an already existing community/commercial development district that is located in a wet county, but one that does not allow Sunday alcohol sales, to have Sunday alcohol sales within the commercial district.
 
HB133, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Greer, will make it legal for a winery to operate in a dry county that has at least one wet municipality.  This is the most egregious of the bills in committee this coming week.  Wineries are located in rural areas, and yet it is the rural populations of these dry counties that have voted not to legalize alcoholic beverages.  "Big Alcohol" continues to force this mind-altering drug into the lives of individuals and families, even in areas where the citizens have voted NO to alcohol sales.  Please let the members of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee know of your opposition to HB133!  CLICK HERE for a list of the committee members and their contact information.
 
HB134, sponsored by Rep. David Faulkner, would allow tasting of wine and beer in grocery stores that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.  That's all we need! People drinking and then driving out of the crowded grocery store parking lots with children in the area!  Again, we urge you to contact the members of the House ED&T Committee and urge them to oppose this bill, as well.
 
For now, gambling seems to be on the "back burner."  As soon as the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (Gambling) completes its report, which could come before the end of the 2017 Regular Session, we expect a flurry of activity to get pro-gambling bills passed.  We will keep you posted as events unfold.
 
Continue to pray for the legislators, lobbyists and staff of the Alabama Legislature.
                                                                                                      

legislative Update - Week 1

All three of the bills (HB24-Adoption-Rep. Rich Wingo; HB95-Conscience- Rep. Arnold Mooney; HB96-Suicide- Rep. Mack Butler) that are being backed by ALCAP and the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition (APLC) were reported out of the Alabama House Health Committee this week, after public hearings on each.

A third bill, not on the APLC agenda, making a public policy statement that Alabama recognizes the unborn, also passed.  We are asking for a "Pro-Life Day" for all of the bills to come up on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives.  Senator Bill Hightower has also dropped SB145, on adoption, a companion bill to HB24, in the Senate.  Other Senators should be dropping companion bills to the other pro-life House bills in the next few days.  Please ask fellow pastors and church members to thank the sponsors and Rep. April Weaver, chairperson of the House Health Committee.
 
Pro-gambling bills appear to be on hold until the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (Gambling) makes its final report.  We expect this to come before the end of the 2017 Session, though the deadline for the Council's report is not until after the session has ended.  ALCAP will keep you updated as information becomes available.  However, a Daily Fantasy Sports bill (SB28), sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley, has been introduced and may begin to move through the Senate before the Advisory Council reports.  This bill, if passed, would essentially legalize online gambling in Alabama.  For more information on this issue, click here for the document Daily Fantasy Sports Fact Sheet or visit the Stop Predatory Gambling website www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.
 
Rep. Bill Poole introduced a bill that lowers the age of majority from 19 to 18 years of age.  There was an exception made for tobacco that kept the purchase, use and possession of tobacco products at age 19 (the current law), but nothing in the bill clarified that the purchase, use or possession of alcohol would remain at the age of 21, as the current law states.  ALCAP communicated our concerns about that with the bill's sponsor, and he is having the bill redrafted to include the appropriate language to keep alcohol use, etc. at the current age of 21 and above.
 
There are several Sunday alcohol sale bills being introduced.  All of these are local bills and are being driven by city councils and county commissioners.  It is important that pastors and church leaders contact your city council members, county commissioners and state representatives and senators and urge them to oppose Sunday alcohol sales.  Many of these bills will allow Sunday alcohol sales by a simple vote of the city council or county commission, without a vote of the people.
 
ALCAP offers congratulations to Alabama's own Jeff Sessions as our new United States Attorney General and to Luther Strange as Alabama's new U.S. Senator.  Pray for these men and their families.  Also, pray that God's will be done as a new Alabama Attorney General is appointed.
                                                                                                                                 

ALCAP Alert Dated 2/6/2017

Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) has pre-filed Senate Bill 28 (SB28).  This bill will legalize online gambling in the form of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).

Contrary to the arguments from the big DFS companies, this is Class III gambling, which may open the door for full-fledged casino gambling in Alabama.

Unlike regular fantasy sports, played by friends and family for the length of an entire season, DFS is played online around the world and an individual can lose thousands of dollars in one day!  (For the facts on DFS, visit the  Stop Predatory Gambling website or click here.)
 
Call Sen. Whatley today and urge him not to push this bill.  Also, contact your Senator and House Member and ask them to oppose ALL pro-gambling bills, INCLUDING the Daily Fantasy Sports bill(s).
                                                                                                                         
ALCAP Alert Dated 8/26/2016

SB3 died in the Senate today as the Senate voted NOT to concur with the House version of the bill.  As we suspected, when the House amended the bill to exclude casinos, that is not what the pro-gambling people wanted.
 
The truth finally came out and is reflected in the attached vote count with 7 for concurrence (YES) and 23 against concurrence (NO).  There were different motives for voting NO, but at this point we are celebrating the defeat of pro-gambling legislation in Alabama!
 
Please contact the Senators that voted NO to concur and thank them.  Also, urge them to vote in favor of the BP Settlement, so that gambling will not be needed to solve the Medicaid problem in our state.
                                                                                                                                           

ALCAP Alert Dated 8/25/2016

The Alabama Legislature is in chaos and needs our prayers!  The deadline for getting a bill to the Secretary of State in order to have a lottery vote on the November ballot was Wednesday night, August 24, 2016, at midnight, a deadline that has past without the lottery bill being voted out of the House.  However, pro-gambling forces are now arguing that this is not true and the courts may become involved in forcing the Secretary of State to get the constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

If that does not work, the Legislature could come back for another special session and change the law to allow the lottery amendment on the November ballot.  Such action would only require a simple majority vote in each house and the signature of the Governor.  All of this is why it is important to stop SB3 (the Governor’s lottery bill) in the House of Representatives TODAY!

Please contact your House Member and urge a NO vote on SB3!  Even if you have already contacted him/her, please keep the pressure on.  Call your friends and neighbors (who oppose the lottery) and enlist them to contact their House Member.  Use social media to educate people on the detrimental impact of a state-sponsored lottery.  The Alabama Policy Institute and ALCAP have been circulating articles and video clips on social media for you to share.  Also, you can find information to use in your personal posts at www.ALCAP.com and www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.

IMPORTANT: The word “lottery” is not defined in SB3 and since the Alabama Supreme Court has, in past case law, defined a lottery as “any game of chance,” if the people of Alabama vote to legalize a lottery, the Alabama Legislature can come back and pass enabling legislation that includes casino gambling.  This fact is why we believe the gambling bosses from the dog tracks in Alabama are driving this constitutional amendment.  They stand to make millions of dollars and they will stop at nothing to deceive the people of Alabama into giving them what they want.

If SB3 passes the House, it will have to go back to the Senate for concurrence, since it has already been amended.  Then, we may need to start contacting State Senators again in order to urge a NO CONCURRENCE vote.  If they do not concur, then the bill will go to a Conference Committee made up of members of the House and Senate and a compromise bill (which could include anything they want) could be sent back to the House and Senate for a concurrence vote.  There is still time to stop this push for gambling expansion in Alabama, but it requires the citizens of Alabama to be engaged and communicating with legislators and educating themselves, their friends and their neighbors.

Please do whatever you can to help, but most of all, PRAY for God to intervene!
                                                                                                                                     

ALCAP Alert Dated 8/17/2016

Senate Tourism Committee reconvened this afternoon (Wednesday, August 17) to reconsider SB26 (Constitutional Amendment to require the Governor to sign a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians) and SB34 (similar to Sen. McClendon's lottery bill, SB11, which includes electronic gambling devices, but reallocates where the money goes).  ALCAP opposes both of these gambling bills, as well as the other gambling bills voted out of committee yesterday, but both were voted out of committee by voice vote.
 
Full Senate is currently debating SB11, Sen. McClendon's lottery bill that also allows video lottery terminals at the 4 dog tracks throughout the state.  Pray for gambling opponents as they stand firm and continue to contact your State Senator urging a "NO" vote on all pro-gambling bills!

Click here for talking points you can use when speaking with your legislator.

Click here to find your Senator or House Member.

If you would like more information place your cursor over the "Current Issues" tab to the left then click on the "Gambling" tab or place your cursor over the "Links" tab to the left then click on the "Gambling" tab. You may also visit the Stop Predatory Gambling website at www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.
                                                                                                

ALCAP Alert Dated 8/16/2016


ALCAP legal advisor, Eric Johnston, speaking at the public hearing on the five proposed Senate Bills presented to the Senate Tourism Committee.

Senate Tourism Committee just voted to advance only two of the five pro-gambling bills to the full Senate.  SB3, the Governor's pure lottery bill and SB11, Senator McClendon's bill that allows electronic video lottery terminals at the four dog tracks throughout the state and according to the Attorney General could lead to casino gambling, were the two bills that passed by voice vote (no roll call vote).
 
Now, those two bills will be debated on the floor of the Senate, possibly as early as tomorrow.  Pray and contact your State Senator to urge him or her to oppose SB3 and SB11!
 
Click here for talking points you can use when speaking with your legislator.

Click here to find your Senator or House Member.

If you would like more information place your cursor over the "Current Issues" tab to the left then click on the "Gambling" tab or place your cursor over the "Links" tab to the left then click on the "Gambling" tab. You may also visit the Stop Predatory Gambling website at www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.
                                                                                                 

ALCAP Alert Dated 8/15/2016

With the Alabama Legislature convening today, Monday, August 15, for a Special Session to discuss legalizing a state-sponsored lottery in Alabama, the Senate Tourism Committee meeting has been scheduled.   The gambling bills are expected to be in the Senate Tourism Committee on Tuesday, August 16, at 10:30 a.m. in room 325 (time and location subject to change). 

I am appealing to pastors and denominational leaders to be at the Alabama State House on Tuesday morning between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. to visit with your Senator and House Member.  Even though the Senate Tourism Committee will not meet until 10:30 a.m., I want to encourage you to visit the offices of your House Member and State Senator, encouraging him/her to oppose all pro-gambling bills or not vote at all.  Proponents will need 3/5 of the House and 3/5 of the Senate to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment, so abstaining will have the same impact as a no vote.
 
The gambling proponents will be at the State House in large numbers, so we need pastors, denominational leaders and any key business people from each district to be there and putting pressure on the legislators to oppose gambling.  If you cannot come to Montgomery on Tuesday, come on Wednesday or Thursday.  We need as many people as possible walking the halls and talking to legislators about how gambling is a failed government policy.
 
Click here for talking points you can use when speaking with your legislator.

Click here to find your Senator or House Member.

If you would like more information place your cursor over the "Current Issues" tab to the left then click on the "Gambling" tab or place your cursor over the "Links" tab to the left then click on the "Gambling" tab. You may also visit the Stop Predatory Gambling website at www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.
                                                                                                   

ALCAP Alert Dated 8/11/2016


With the Alabama Legislature convening on Monday, August 15, for a Special Session to discuss legalizing a state-sponsored lottery in Alabama, the details of their schedule are still uncertain.  However, here is what I anticipate:  They go into session at 4:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon, but the only thing they can do is introduce bills.  Even with the House electing a new Speaker, the meeting day should be brief.  I will be in Montgomery Monday afternoon to talk with legislators as they arrive.
 
If they follow the usual procedure, committees will meet the next day, Tuesday, August 16, in order to pass out of committee the bills introduced the day before. We will try to call for public hearings in both the House and Senate committees, but at this point we do not know to what committees the lottery bills will be assigned. As soon as we find out the committee meeting times and locations, we will let our ALCAP family know.
 
Since there is a level of uncertainty, I am appealing to pastors and denominational leaders to be at the Alabama State House on Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. (as soon as the doors open).  Even if the committees do not meet until later in the day (or even on a different day), I want to encourage you to visit the offices of your House Member and State Senator, encouraging him/her to oppose all pro-gambling bills or not vote at all.  Proponents will need 3/5 of the House and 3/5 of the Senate to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment, so abstaining will have the same impact as a no vote.
 
The gambling proponents will be at the State House in large numbers, so we need pastors, denominational leaders and any key business people from each district to be there and putting pressure on the legislators to oppose gambling.  If you cannot come to Montgomery on Tuesday, come on Wednesday or Thursday.  We need as many people as possible walking the halls and talking to legislators about how gambling is a failed government policy.
 
Click here for talking points you can use when speaking with your legislator.

Click here to find your Senator or House Member.

If you would like more information place your cursor over the "Current Issues" tab to the left then click on the "Gambling" tab or place your cursor over the "Links" tab to the left then click on the "Gambling" tab. You may also visit the Stop Predatory Gambling website at www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.
                                                                                                     

ALCAP Alert Dated 8/4/2016


Commentary on the lottery from ALCAP Board Member Don Wallace, CPA


We must call into question how much the lottery will siphon from the Education Trust Fund, etc. and tell Alabama Legislators NO. 

For example, if I spend $100 on goods then $4 in Sales Tax Revenue goes to schools. If I now spend $25 of that money on a "get-rich-quick" lottery scheme, then only $3 goes to the Education Trust Fund.

Based on the Governors "lofty expectations" this would mean $12 million dollars in tax revenue diverted from the Education Trust Fund, as well as the lost revenue to local cities, counties, and local school tax revenues generated from the other 5-6% of sales tax that doesn't go to the state.

EASILY, THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN DIVERTS AT LEAST $30 MILLION FROM
THE EDUCATION TRUST FUND AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUDGETS.

Speaking from client experience, the lottery hurts the small business as people stop spending money on such things as cokes, Gatorade and food and divert that to a lottery ticket where they make a much smaller margin.

From a personal, anecdotal perspective, we just went to Florida recently and all those stores in Florida right next to Florala have closed - so much for "lottery" business.

We also went to Orlando and it is amazing that from just south of Dothan to Orlando you can hardly see a lottery sign anywhere - BUT travel on one of the older thoroughfares going into downtown Orlando and you will see lottery advertisements targeted at the poor people who need to play the lottery the least. 

Sincerely,

Don Wallace
Certified Public Accountant
Northport, Alabama
                                                                                                                          

ALCAP ALERT Dated 7/29/2016

Governor Bentley announced this morning that he is calling for the Special Session of the Alabama Legislature to consider a constitutional amendment allowing Alabama to vote on a state-sponsored lottery will begin August 15.

Please contact your House Member and State Senator and let them know that you oppose this government scheme that has failed in every state where it has been enacted!

I am asking you to do the following:
 
1) Contact your House Member and State Senator and ask him/her to oppose any pro-gambling legislation during the Special Session and get others to do the same.
 
2) Order the EDUCATION EDITION of a new documentary entitled, "OUT OF LUCK."  Be sure to order the EDUCATION EDITION because that version drops the sound when foul language is used.  The original version contains some offensive language at different times during the movie.  The movie is 1 hour and 45 minutes, but every church and every legislator in Alabama should see this movie, so invite your legislators to watch the movie with you.  We have purchased about 50 copies of the EDUCATION VERSION of the "OUT OF LUCK" DVD and if you want to order from us, the cost is $24.99 + shipping (our cost; ALCAP will get nothing out of this; the education version costs more than the original version which can be purchased on amazon.com or iTunes).  Click here to contact the ALCAP office to request a copy of the education edition of the video.  If you would like to order the education edition directly from Amazon, click here.
 
Remember, we will not be voting on just selling lottery tickets in Alabama.  Several years ago the Alabama Supreme Court defined a lottery as "any game of chance."  That means that if the people of Alabama pass a Constitutional Amendment legalizing a lottery, the Alabama Legislature can come back and pass enabling legislation that legalizes casinos throughout the state.

Also, the Legislature will come back every year wanting to expand the gambling options because people get addicted and want more options, and because the revenue from each form of gambling diminishes over time.  This is what has happened in every state that has passed lottery legislation!
 
THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!  PLEASE CONTACT YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS AND BEGIN TO TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT THIS ISSUE!

You can find information about lotteries and casino gambling on the links and current issues tab to the left or www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.

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