ALCAP Alert

Governor’s Gambling Policy Study Committee Meeting 4/20/2020

ALCAP continues to work through this pandemic, but we are following all the social distancing recommendations in order to make sure our families are protected.

One VERY important meeting that we have been working on is the Governor’s Gambling Policy Study Committee. This group cancelled their March 30 meeting, but are scheduled to meet via Zoom this coming Monday, April 20, 2020 at 10AM (CDT).

ALCAP has been involved in securing two speakers/presenters for Monday’s meeting: Les Bernal, National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling, and John Kindt, an expert on sports betting. Both individuals have submitted their PowerPoint slides and biographical information for the Committee and each will be given about 30 minutes to make their presentations and answer questions.

EVERYONE (ALL OF YOU) is (are) invited to “log in” for the meeting by clicking on the following link…

https://algov.zoom.us/j/934234357

The agenda is posted on the Secretary of State’s open meetings webpage. Click here for the agenda.

I encourage our entire ALCAP family to join the meeting if possible in order to hear these two very knowledgeable individuals. If you are not able to log in, please take a few moments on Monday at 10AM to lift a prayer for Les Bernal and John Kindt, and to pray for the study committee as they do their work.

Thank you for your continued support of ALCAP and our school program, American Character Builders. I know that times are very difficult, but the work of defending our religious freedoms and speaking out on the issues with which Alabama churches are concerned does not stop.

The Alabama Legislature is scheduled to return to the 2020 Legislative Session on Tuesday, April 28 and ALCAP will be there and keeping you updated concerning bills on which they will be working.

Week 4 – Alabama Legislative Session 2020

Two important bills were given a favorable report (meaning that they were voted out of committee and will go to the full House or Senate for debate and discussion) — House Bill 303 (HB303), sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen, and Senate Bill 219 (SB219), sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt. Both bills are called the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,” and, if passed and signed into law by the Governor, will “prohibit the performance of a medical procedure or the prescription or issuance of medication, upon or to a minor child (under the age of 19), that is intended to alter the minor child’s gender or delay puberty, with certain exception.” 

Transgendered individuals and family members of transgendered individuals filled the committee meeting rooms to protest the bills, but both the House and Senate Health Committees gave a favorable report to the bills. Each bill will now go to their respective houses for debate and a vote. Please contact your House Member and State Senator, and ask him/her to vote YES on final passage of HB303 and SB219. 

SB165HB263, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Greer, would protect church members from being prosecuted while defending themselves or other church members by using a firearm against an active shooter. Many believe this bill is unnecessary because “stand your ground” laws already enacted would do the same. However, this law clarifies these protections. For this reason, ALCAP supports passage of this bill. There was a public hearing on the bill this week and the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on it next week. 

A “lottery bill” has not yet been introduced, but ALCAP will send an alert if and when one is. Rep. Steve Clouse has indicated that he will be introducing a lottery bill even though Governor Ivey has formed a “Gambling Policy Study Committee” and asked that legislators wait for recommendations from that committee. (Rep. Clouse was out this past week due to the death of his mother. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.)

SB165, which passed out of committee last week, was not on the Senate calendar this week. It may be brought up on the floor of the Senate next week. (This is the “medical” cannabis/marijuana bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson.) The marijuana industry has a number of lobbyists working on legislators to convince them to vote in favor of this bill, so it is important for them (especially the State Senators) to hear from YOU (their constituents)! Call, write a personal letter or at least an email and let your State Senator know of your opposition to SB165. Also, encourage others in your church to do the same. 

As always, continue to pray for God to give wisdom and courage to legislators as they address these important issues.

Week 3 – Alabama Legislative Session 2020

This week in the 2020 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 165 (SB165)). I chose not to speak during the hearing, but enlisted others to do so. Among those who spoke against the bill were Rick Hagans, Director of His Place and Hannah Home Ministries in Lee County. Rick spoke at our weekly ALCAP Prayer Breakfast that morning, so I asked him to speak at the public hearing as one who ministers to drug and alcohol addicts. Also speaking against the bill were: Caleb Crosby (Alabama Policy Institute); Lori Herring (RN-C who has had much experience dealing with drug addicts and marijuana users); and Clay Hammac (Director of Shelby County’s Compact 20/20 Anti-Drug Task Force). 

The bill “received a favorable report,” meaning that it will now go to the full Senate for a vote. The committee voted 8-1 with one abstention. ALCAP applauds Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Sheffield) for voting NO.

We encourage everyone to contact their State Senator and ask him/her to vote NO on SB165 when it comes to the floor of the Senate for a vote (possibly next week). The author of this bill, Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), claims it is very restrictive, but we know from experience that every year legislators will return to Montgomery and systematically remove the restrictions, as they have done with alcohol over the last several decades. One of the best explanations of why this bill is bad for Alabama is found in a letter sent recently by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall to each of the legislators. You can read that letter by clicking here

The State Committee of Public Health and the Alabama Department of Public Health have jointly issued the following statement concerning the legalization of marijuana:

“The State Committee of Public Health and the Alabama Department of Public Health do not support the legalization of marijuana for medical use, except through the normal U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. Sound medical research is the basis for modern medical care, and the currently available data on marijuana is incomplete or absent for most clinical indications. While it is recognized that clinical research on a Schedule I substance may be challenging to perform, this is not an acceptable reason to circumvent the FDA approval process.”

Also, this week, House Bill 303 (HB303), sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy), and the companion bill, SB219, sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville), were introduced in each house. Both bills, entitled, “The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,” prohibit gender change therapy for minors. We will keep you updated as these bills make their way through the Legislature. ALCAP supports these companion bills. 

Week 2 – Alabama Legislative Session 2020

The second week of the 2020 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature has been completed. This past week, SB165 (“medical” marijuana bill) was introduced by Sen. Tim Melson. A public hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, February 19, at 8:30 A.M. in Statehouse Room #325. ALCAP will be there to speak if needed, but we are hoping medical and legal experts will be able to present the case for voting against this bill. We expect a crowd of marijuana proponents to be there in large numbers, so it would be great if we could fill the relatively small room and the hallways with pastors and church members who care about protecting our state from the commercialization of marijuana (the ultimate goal of those pushing this legislation). Let me know if you plan to attend and I will try to connect with you that day before the meeting begins. Text me or call me directly at 205.612.1917.

The lottery bill(s) has (have) not yet been introduced. We are hoping the legislators are heeding Governor Ivey’s request for this issue to be put “on hold” until further study can be done. We just learned who will make up the study committee and we will do what we can to share information with them. You can read the list of committee members and see the press release by clicking here.

There are a number of other bills dealing with various issues, such as transgender athletes and transgender surgeries on minors that we are monitoring in addition to bills that expand the availability of alcohol. As always, we will try to keep you notified concerning public hearings and the need for you to contact your legislators throughout the legislative session.

In closing this week’s update, I want to ask you to pray for Rep. Jim Carns whose wife passed away recently and Rep. Terri Collins whose husband passed away this past Sunday.

Thank you for your continued prayers for ALCAP and our ministry at the Statehouse.

The 2020 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature begins tomorrow, Tuesday, February 4

Two important bills that we expect to be filed include Sen. Tim Melson’s bill that will legalize “medical” marijuana. ALCAP has supported legislation that put research on the medical benefits of marijuana in the hands of researchers at UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration of the United States). However, this latest bill is expected to legalize marijuana use for a variety of ailments, including anxiety and other emotional problems without proper research and approval from the FDA. This legislation, if it passes, will break federal laws against the use of marijuana and will open the door for eventually legalizing recreational marijuana.

Another bill (or bills) we expect to be filed would call for a vote of Alabama citizens legalizing a state-sponsored lottery and/or casino gambling. There are different factions that have arisen in recent years: 1) Those that support a state-sponsored lottery as long as it does not include casino gambling; and 2) those that will only support a lottery bill that also allows for casino gambling. Either way, casinos will be a part of the lottery scheme. If a lottery amendment is passed, the Poarch Creek Indians will be able to open full-fledged casinos even if no other casinos are allowed.

The Poarch Creek Indians (PCI) have been sending direct-mail pieces to millions of Alabama citizens and taking out full-page newspaper ads touting how a state-sponsored lottery and a compact signed with the PCI will result in $1Billion of revenue to the State of Alabama. What they are not saying is that every penny of that billion dollars will come out of the pockets of losers who have been deceived into addictively pumping their money into the casinos’s rigged machines (“rigged” because “the house always wins”).

ALCAP will be speaking out at the State House throughout the Session in opposition to these gambling bills and the marijuana bills, but we need for everyone to contact your own legislators and encourage them to vote against ALL gambling bills and marijuana bills.

ALCAP also encourages everyone to vote on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 in the Primary Elections. On that ballot there will be an amendment that, if it passes, will take away the right of Alabama citizens to elect members of the Alabama State School Board. ALCAP opposes Amendment #1 and encourages everyone to vote “NO” on that amendment.

Pray for legislators to make wise decisions during this 2020 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature. Thank you for your prayers and support for ALCAP!

Alabama Released Time Credit Act #2019-281

AN EDUCATIONAL UPDATE FROM THE SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE, INC.

A. Eric Johnston, President, General Counsel

The Alabama Released Time Credit Act allows public school students to leave school premises during the day to attend Bible study or religious instruction at a local church or other location and receive one hours’ elective credit. The purpose of this Educational Update is to give the background of the Act and explain its application. Hopefully, this will act as a catalyst for the state school board to implement a policy encouraging local school boards to adopt policies permitting this.

It is important to understand that this type of law is constitutional. Therefore, local school boards do not need to be concerned that they will be sued for establishment of religion violations.
We encourage parents to check out this new law and work with their local school boards to implement it.

Click here to read the entire Educational Update.

2019 Legislative Session Report

The following brief video was made as the Alabama Legislature was about to adjourn sine die, ending the 2019 Regular Session on Friday, May 31, 2019.

In addition to the bills mentioned in the video, there were other bills that ALCAP monitored.

  • Senate Bill 236 (SB236), sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, had to do with medical marijuana. It was an extensive legalization of medical marijuana when it came out of the Senate, but the House substituted and amended the bill so that its final version was somewhat different. The final version of the bill simply extended for one year Carly’s Law that was passed a few years ago. The original bill allowed for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to study the use of cannabidiol (CBD oil) in children that have debilitating epileptic seizures. The final version of the bill also calls for a study commission to make recommendations to the Alabama Legislature concerning the legalization of medical marijuana in the future. We are currently working with others to suggest qualified experts to serve on this commission.
  • House Bill 350 (HB350), sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins (who also sponsored the pro-life bill), legalizes, with certain restrictions, the direct shipment of alcoholic beverages to the homes of individuals. ALCAP commends Rep. Collins for her efforts in passing the important pro-life bill, but we are disappointed in the passage of HB350.
  • Two local gambling bills failed to pass: One called for a local constitutional amendment in Greene County and the other called for a local constitutional amendment in Macon County, allowing the people of those two counties to vote on legalizing electronic gambling devices (“slot machines”).

As mentioned in the video (but with a little more detail presented here)…

  • HB314 (the pro-life bill) passed and was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey. This bill makes all abortions illegal in Alabama once implantation in the uterine wall takes place. It is hoped this law will be used by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortions nationwide.
  • HB361, legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), sponsored by Rep. Kyle South, passed both houses. ALCAP argued that DFS is gambling and should have been a constitutional amendment, requiring a vote of Alabama citizens. Proponents argued that it is a game of skill and did not require a vote of the people. For more information on Daily Fantasy Sports, visit www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.
  • SB220, sponsored by Sen. Greg Albritton, would have given the people of Alabama an opportunity to vote to legalize a state-sponsored lottery. This bill passed the Senate with the 21 votes needed for passage, but failed to pass a procedural vote in the House and thus it “died.” The reason is that one group of legislators wanted to include electronic gambling devices (“slot machines”) at existing dog tracks and other designated locations; another group wanted paper lottery tickets only; and, another group of legislators, acting on principle, wanted no gambling expansion in the state at all. The result was that there were not enough votes to pass a lottery bill. We anticipate that it may come up again as a suggested source of revenue to fund prison reform when the Legislature convenes in September or October for a Special Session (as some have indicated will take place). This is why churches and concerned citizens need to mobilize and educate their members and communities about how state-sponsored and state-sanctioned gambling are not only immoral, but are bad for the economy, as well. I am available and would welcome opportunities to share with your church and/or community the facts concerning gambling. Contact our ALCAP office to schedule an educational event in your church and/or community.

Feel free to show the video and report on the other bills in your church or small group meetings. ALCAP is grateful for your prayers and financial support. We are YOUR missionaries to the Alabama Legislature and seek to be the “salt and light” Christ called His followers to be in the world.

ALCAP Alert! 5/15/2019

In November of 2018 the citizens of Alabama voted overwhelmingly for a constitutional amendment supporting pro-life legislation. Yesterday’s vote on House Bill 314 by the Alabama Senate and the vote of the Alabama House of Representatives a few weeks ago demonstrated that legislators are listening to their constituents.

We fully expect that, once the Governor signs the bill into law, it will be challenged in court. Our hope and prayer is that this law will be used to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade Decision by the United States Supreme Court and that the lives of babies in the wombs of their mothers will be protected once again in our state and nation.

We are grateful for the courage of the Alabama Legislators who voted for this bill in the face of tremendous pressure from opponents of pro-life legislation.

Be sure to contact your State Senator and House Member (if they voted in favor of the bill) and thank them. Click here to find how your Senator voted. Click here to find how your House Member voted. Note that Rep. Chris Sells intended to vote Yea. Click here to find your legislators contact information.

Click here for a synopsis of HB314 by ALCAP Board Member and President of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, A. Eric Johnston.

ALCAP Alert! 5/10/2019

The following information regarding HB314 is provided by ALCAP Board Member and Alabama Pro-Life Coalition President, A. Eric Johnston.

HB314 was approved by the Alabama House as a bill to criminalize abortion by making it a Class A felony. However, when the bill reached the Senate Judiciary Committee, a rape and incest exception was added. It was subsequently removed by the Senate, but the bill will be debated on Tuesday by the Senate and the possibility exists that the amendment will be re-added.

The purpose of the bill is to save the lives of unborn children. It follows Amendment 2 to the Alabama Constitution approved by voters last November, that unborn children in Alabama are entitled to protection of its laws.

Roe v. Wade (1973) prohibits states from prohibiting or regulating abortion prior to viability, when the child can live outside the womb. Therefore, Amendment 2 and HB314 conflict with Roe. The purpose of the bill is to save unborn lives, but this cannot be done without a court challenge.

To do that, the prospective law cannot permit exceptions for rape and incest, which have been proposed. Regardless of the manner of conception, viz., consent, accidental, rape, incest, artificial insemination, all create a person.

We are approaching the issue on the basis of personhood. If the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, it could hold the unborn child to be a person entitled to protection under the U.S. Constitution. How could we then argue some people are not persons?

It is likely there will be an effort to add the rape and incest exception. HB314 must be passed without this exception. To do otherwise will kill the legislation and its goal of protecting unborn children. I believe this exception amendment is the strategy of our opponents to kill the bill.

If you believe the unborn child is a person, you must contact your Alabama Senator and ask him not to support the rape and incest exception. While this exception provokes strong emotions, it is not the child’s fault and his or her life should not be taken as a result of it. Senators need to know from their constituents that voting for the exception will be a vote to continue abortion in Alabama. They must vote no to the rape and incest exception and vote yes to the bill without that exception.

Click here to identify and contact your Senator. Complete the fields in “My Elected Officials.” This will give you their names, including the state Senator. Click on his name and it will give you contact information for him.

For some Senators, you will get an office number. Leave a message for the Senator to call you, but also leave a message that you want him/her to vote NO on the rape and incest exception and vote YES for final passage of HB314 without the amendments. If you have personal contacts, use those to contact a Senator.

All Senators need to be contacted. Encourage those who say they plan to vote against the amendment and vote for the bill. Those with whom we have not been able to connect, and thus we have not received commitments, include the following. They need special attention.
Tom Butler – Limestone and Madison Counties
Sam Givhan – Madison County
Garlan Gudger – Cullman, Lawrence, Marion and Winston Counties
Steve Livingston – DeKalb, Jackson and Madison Counties
Del Marsh – Calhoun and Talladega Counties
Jim McLendon – Shelby, St. Clair and Talladega Counties
Randy Price – Chambers, Clay, Cleburne, Lee and Randolph Counties
Clay Scofield – Blount, DeKalb, Madison and Marshall Counties
David Sessions – Mobile County
Cam Ward – Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties
Tom Whatley – Lee, Russell & Tallapoosa Counties
Jack Williams – Mobile County


Click here for a printable copy of this information.

ALCAP Alert! 5/8/2019

AL House will debate HB361 (Daily Fantasy Sports Bill) this afternoon when they go into session at 3:00 PM, May 8, 2019. Proponents (especially, DFS companies, such as FanDuel and DraftKings) argue that it is not gambling, but casino owners around the country say it is. Call your House member and urge a NO vote on HB361.

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM, May 9, 2019, the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee will hold a public hearing on SB220 (Lottery Bill). Pray and contact your House member. Ask him/her to oppose SB220!

The AL Senate Judiciary Committee, after holding a public hearing, voted to send HB314 (Pro-Life Bill) to the full Senate. An amendment was added with an exception for rape and Incest. The bill’s sponsor (Rep. Terri Collins) opposes this amendment on the basis that the baby is a person regardless of how he/she was conceived.

Pray for passage of this bill (without the amendment) by the AL Senate. It has already passed the House. Contact your State Senator and ask him/her to vote YES on HB314!