ALCAP Alert

ALCAP Alert! 4/12/2019

Due to a very hectic schedule and the rapid pace of the 2019 Legislative Session, I have not been able to send an alert during the last two weeks. It seems the Alabama Legislature is determined to push gambling and alcohol on the people of Alabama.

But, let me begin with one positive bit of news. Senate Bill (SB) 77, which would privatize all the Alcohol Beverage Control retail stores in the state, failed to pass out of a Senate committee this past Wednesday. ALCAP’s position and focus, as stated during the public hearing before the vote was taken, is that when states privatize their liquor sales, the consumption rate rises by 48%. More consumption results in more social costs related to alcohol, and for that reason, ALCAP continues to support controlling alcohol sales through the Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABC Board), both wholesale and retail. We have been told that a comprehensive alcohol privatization bill that will privatize both the wholesale and retail liquor sales will be introduced soon in the House. SB77 would have only privatized the retail stores, not the wholesale operations.

Two weeks ago, ALCAP’s opposition to SB116, SB130 and SB220 was presented during a public hearing. SB116 is a constitutional amendment that would legalize a state-sponsored lottery, along with Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) in existing dog tracks and certain bingo halls throughout the state. These VLTs are actually slot machines, so this bill would really legalize casino gambling, not just a lottery. It would also require a “gaming/gambling” commission to be established. (More “big government” coming out of Montgomery!) SB130 simply stated how the revenue from gambling would be divided within the state budgets.

SB220 was a “competing” lottery bill that, if voted on by the people, would allow Alabama to sell lottery tickets associated with the intra-state “mega” lotteries. This bill would not require a gambling commission, but it would result in the Poarch Creek Indians opening full-fledged casinos in their facilities. The Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, passed in 1985, states that the Indians can demand a compact be signed with the state, allowing them to have any kind of gambling that is legal within the state. Since a lottery is Class III gambling, which includes casino gambling, the Indians could demand that they be allowed to operate full-fledged casinos should the people vote for a lottery amendment. “Bottom line” – a vote for a lottery will actually be a vote for casino gambling in Alabama!

One local bill, House Bill (HB) 422, is a local constitutional amendment that would allow Macon County to have the same kind of electronic bingo machines used at the Poarch Creek Indian casinos. These are the same machines that were ruled as “illegal slot machines” by the Alabama Supreme Court in the past, but which the Federal Government continues to allow on the Indian Reservations. We are studying how to best stop this bill.

Several legislators have told me that they promised their constituents they would vote to allow their people to vote on a lottery. We need for everyone to contact your legislators and tell them you “release” them from such a foolish commitment and you want them to oppose all pro-gambling bills.

ALCAP is also watching a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) bill and a sports betting bill. HB361, legalizing DFS, will have a public hearing next Wednesday, April 17, at 3:00 PM in the House Government Committee. DFS is, in reality, online gambling. Pray that we will be able to stop this bill from advancing.

NOW, FOR THE BIGGEST NEWS! This coming Wednesday, April 17, at 10:30 AM, HB314 will have a public hearing followed by a vote by the House Health Committee. This bill will be historic! It is a pro-life bill that will outlaw abortions after implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine wall. This will be the most restrictive abortion bill in the nation if it passes. The hope is that bill could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court and reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision! We already have a list of individuals who will speak in the public hearing and what we need now is for God’s people to pray! We will keep you updated as this bill makes its way through the legislature.

To summarize: 1) PRAY! 2) Contact your House member and state Senator and ask them to support the pro-life bill (HB314) and oppose all the gambling and alcohol expansion bills.

ALCAP Alert! 3/20/2019

After passing the gas tax during the Special Session, the Alabama Legislators resumed the 2019 Regular Session on Tuesday, March 19. As expected, Sen. Jim McClendon (R-St. Clair County) introduced Senate Bill 116 (SB116) that would legalize a state-sponsored lottery in Alabama. The general feeling is that a lottery bill will pass the Legislature and be placed on the ballot as a constitutional amendment for the people of Alabama to decide.

Legislators often tell me they are opposed to gambling, but they “just want to give the people a chance to vote.” While I was not as opposed to the gas tax as many of my friends, it is interesting to me that many of these same legislators did not think it was necessary for the people to vote on the gas tax. The fact is, we did vote when we elected these legislators to come to Montgomery and make decisions based on information that the general public either does not have the time or the interest in studying.

Let me encourage you to take two actions:

1) Contact your State Senator and House Member and ask him or her to oppose ALL pro-gambling bills.

2) Study the issue of gambling yourself, so you can respond to people in your circle of influence.

You can find information about gambling at www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.

You can also order from Amazon, watch and show the video documentary, “Out of Luck.” Be sure and order the “Education Edition,” which drops the sound on the bad words that are scattered throughout the video. Obviously, this video was produced by non-Christian people who argue against state-sponsored lotteries on the basis of economics rather than moral reasons. While there are plenty of moral reasons to oppose state-sponsored gambling, economically, all state-sponsored or state-sanctioned gambling is a failed policy that targets the poorest citizens of the state.

Other bills we are monitoring include House Bill 6 (HB6) that limits distracted driving (especially, cell phone use while driving), sponsored by Rep. Allen Farley (R-Jefferson County), and several local Sunday alcohol sales and entertainment district bills.

Pray that legislators will do what is best for the citizens of our state.

Senate Resolution, SR109

Senate Resolution, SR109, passed by the Alabama Senate during the 2018 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature, was an important pro-life resolution. Newspapers and the mainstream media in our state seem to be ignoring this resolution, but ALCAP wants its supporters to know what the resolution states. Please share this resolution with others.

Click here for a printable copy of SR109

CONDEMNING THE VOTE AGAINST THE PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT

WHEREAS, The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) which the United States Senate recently voted upon would have provided nationwide protection from abortion for unborn children who are capable of feeling pain, beginning at 20 weeks fetal age; and

WHEREAS, only three months ago, the junior Senator from Alabama, when attempting to persuade conservative and moderate voters in Alabama to vote for him stated “the law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted except in the case of medical necessity. That’s what I support”; and

WHEREAS, it was later revealed that pro-abortion individuals and political groups from out-of-state funneled enormous amounts of financial and other support into Alabama to influence the candidate’s campaign; and

WHEREAS, even though The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would have passed because a majority of Senators supported it, and President Trump said he would sign it, pro-abortion forces in the Senate used procedural tactics to stop the vote, with the junior senator from Alabama voting to kill this important bill; and

WHEREAS, some Democratic Senators in the Senate refused to take the extreme position to kill such a common-sense bill, and supported the passage of H.R. 36; and

WHEREAS, The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was fashioned from several states’ bills, which passed by overwhelming margins, including a similar bill in Alabama; and

WHEREAS, the abortions performed in the second half of pregnancy usually involve painfully dismembering babies, while also posing serious dangers to his or her mother; and

WHEREAS, the junior senator from Alabama is from one of the strongest pro-life states, yet disregarded the clear wishes of the people of Alabama, and instead joined his vote with the most extreme pro-abortion Senators to allow this horrific practice; and

WHEREAS, a vote to allow the brutal killing of an unborn child at this stage is unmistakably revulsive to the values of a so-called civilized and compassionate society, is obviously violent to children, many of whom can survive outside the womb, and devalues the value of every life in America; and

WHEREAS, the United States is one of only seven countries that allows abortions beyond 20 weeks; the other six nations include: North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands; and

WHEREAS, opinion polls consistently show that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose late-term abortions including a majority of those who self-identify as pro-choice; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, That the junior senator from Alabama’s vote to block protection of countless thousands of lives from a terribly painful death is unacceptable and this body strongly disapproves his departure from the values of this state and his vote on this important issue.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the members of this body who are representative of the overwhelming majority of the people of Alabama, call on our recently elected United States Senator to cast votes in the future to protect innocent human life from conception until natural death.

Legislative Update – Week 10

I did not send out an update last week because not much happened in the legislature related to ALCAP. However, this week was very busy! On Tuesday, SB325 (sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford) was brought to the Senate floor for a vote. SB325 would legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (a.k.a., “online gambling”) in Alabama. ALCAP contends that, because this is Class III gambling, it requires a constitutional amendment voted on by the people of Alabama. Former Attorney General Luther Strange ruled two years ago that Daily Fantasy Sports is illegal in our state.

Sen. Sanford was not in attendance, so Sen. Tom Whatley carried the bill. Until the General Fund Budget and the Education Trust Fund Budget are passed, a bill cannot be brought to the floor of the House or Senate without what is called a “Budget Isolation Resolution” (or BIR). The BIR requires that three fifths of the body vote in favor of bringing a bill up before it can be debated and a vote taken on the bill. When the BIR vote for SB325 was taken, only 11 senators voted for the BIR and 12 voted against, with the others either abstaining or not on the floor to vote. That means that SB325 could not be debated and a vote taken! In order for the bill to come back for a vote, it must be placed back on the Special Order Calendar and the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee (which places bills on the Special Order Calendar) assured me that this would probably not happen. It was obvious from the BIR vote that the senators are not interested in passing this unconstitutional piece of legislation.

On Thursday of this week, after voting in the Senate had been delayed twice, HB76 (sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren) was finally passed by the Senate without any amendments. ALCAP’s legal advisor, Eric Johnston, and Robin Mears, executive director of the Alabama Christian Educators Association, worked many hours over a two-year period with Rep. Warren and other organizations to help craft this bill in such a way that the religious liberty of churches was protected while also protecting children in Alabama. ALCAP applauds their efforts. The bill now goes to the Governor’s office for her signature. Click here for the HB76 memorandum from Eric Johnston just after HB76 passed the House, but before it went to the Senate.

Both Senate and House leadership seem eager to end the 2018 Legislative Session a few days early so that members can get home to campaign for the June primaries. Every week the rumors change, but the latest rumor is that the two budgets will be completed and sent to the Governor for her signature some time next week. The Legislature will (if the rumors are correct) meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week, and then Tuesday and Thursday of the following week and adjourn “sine die” (Latin for “adjourn with no plans to return” for this session) on March 29. As a preacher, for years people have told me that a short sermon is always a good sermon. I have told legislators that a short session is always a good session and I hope they do adjourn sine die soon!

Legislative Update – Week 8

On Wednesday of this week (February 28, 2018) ALCAP was the only gambling opponent speaking in two separate public hearings in the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee, chaired by Sen. Del Marsh. The first pro-gambling bill presented was SB325, sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford of Huntsville. This bill would legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) in Alabama, opening the door for Class III (full-fledged, casino-style) gambling in the state. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act states that if Class III gambling is ever legalized in a state (and DFS would likely be considered Class III gambling) then the state must “in good faith” sign a compact with the Indian Tribes within that state. So, if DFS is legalized in Alabama, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Commission (a federal agency) could require the state of Alabama to sign a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians giving them the ability to expand their locations and types of gambling. Also, others would likely demand equal treatment in non-tribal casinos and the state could see its anti-gambling laws “gutted.” Besides putting a virtual casino in the hands of anyone with a smart phone (including children and teens), the illegal “bingocinos” that keep trying to reopen could also install “Daily Fantasy Sports machines” (a.k.a. “slot machines”) and argue that they are simply playing daily fantasy sports, thus giving new life to these illegal gambling enterprises.

ALCAP argued in the public hearing on SB325 that, because DFS is Class III gambling, it should require a vote of the people as a constitutional amendment. If DFS is legalized by a simple statute, that in itself could be unconstitutional. Most of the states that have legalized DFS have placed the oversight under the authority of their state “gaming” (gambling) commissions and put the same restrictions on DFS that they put on all forms of gambling, thus supporting ALCAP’s argument that DFS is indeed Class III gambling. Since Alabama does not have a “gaming” commission, SB325 would place oversight of DFS under the authority of the Attorney General.

For more information on Daily Fantasy Sports and why we believe it is gambling, click here.

To see a short segment from a 2016 PBS Frontline interview on DFS, click here, or to see the entire Frontline program on the subject of Daily Fantasy Sports, click here.

In addition to SB325, there was a public hearing in the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee on SB326, also sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford. This bill would call for a constitutional amendment that, if passed by the people of Alabama, would allow Alabama citizens to participate in the interstate, “mega” and “Powerball” lotteries now taking place in other states. This bill barely passed out of the committee by a 3-2 vote, and that only came after Sen. Billy Beasley of Clayton, AL changed his vote from “no” to “yes.” ALCAP was, again, the only voice in opposition to the bill during the public hearing. There were no proponents in the public hearing, but debate among the senators on the committee included comments that supported the bill.

For more information on state-sponsored lotteries and the negative impact of gambling in general, visit www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.

Please contact your state senator TODAY and encourage him/her to oppose both SB325 and SB326 should either or both of these bills come to the floor of the Senate for a vote!!! Click on the links above in order to become knowledgeable about DFS and state-sponsored lotteries, be courteous, but be firm when you call. If you are able, a handwritten letter will be even more impactful than a phone call or email, but use whatever method you can to contact your state senator about both of these bills.

Also, when talking with candidates for local and state offices, always ask them to tell you their position on gambling. If they say, “I just want to let the people vote,” you answer, “That’s why we are electing you to represent us – so we don’t have to vote on everything! Take a stand and do what is best for the citizens of Alabama.”

Continue to keep ALCAP in your prayers and please consider putting ALCAP in your church budget. We need your support to continue this ministry.

Legislative Update – Week 7

Week #7 has been a busy week in the Legislature for ALCAP. Here is a list of the some of the activities surrounding the bills ALCAP is monitoring:

HB76 (the “Daycare Licensing Bill”) was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, having already passed the House, should be put on the Senate calendar for debate within the next week or two. ALCAP supports this bill as it has been amended and agreed upon by most concerned parties.

HB272 (sponsored by Democrat Representative Patricia Todd), which lowers the penalties on possession of marijuana failed to pass out of the House Judiciary Committee, but the companion bill, SB251 (sponsored by Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker) did pass out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote and may now go to the full Senate for debate. ALCAP opposes both these bills. To lower the penalties for possession of marijuana sends the wrong signal at a time in our culture when drug use continues to be an increasing problem among our nation’s youth. Given that the House Judiciary Committee failed to give their version of the bill a favorable report, it is very likely that the Senate will not waste time debating and voting on the Senate version of the bill, but we will continue to monitor SB251 and let you know if it begins to gain traction.

HB407 (sponsored by Republican Representative Reed Ingram), which would allow local governing bodies to regulate the sale of Sunday alcohol sales, including the start times, without a vote of the people was carried over in the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee after concerns were raised by ALCAP. During a public hearing ALCAP pointed out that some counties and municipalities had Sunday alcohol sales starting at noon as a result of a vote of the people. To change the start time for selling alcohol in those areas where the people voted should require a vote of the people again and not be decided by local officials. We anticipate that the bill will come back to the committee with an amendment that requires a vote of the people in those situations where the people voted originally for Sunday alcohol sales.

On Tuesday of this week, Republican Senator Paul Sanford introduced two pro-gambling bills: SB325, which would legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (online gambling that would put a casino in the hands of every person with a smart phone, including young people), and SB326, which would legalize a state-sponsored lottery. These bills will be on the agenda in the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee next Wednesday (February 28) and ALCAP has requested a public hearing on each. Please contact your State Senator and ask him/her to oppose SB325 and SB326, especially if your senator serves on the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee. The members of that committee include: Sen. Del Marsh (Chairman); Sen. Bobby Singleton (Vice-Chairman); Sen. Greg Albritton; Sen. Billy Beasley; Sen. Tim Melson; Sen. Trip Pittman; Sen. Paul Sanford (sponsor of the bill); and Sen. Roger Smitherman.

Continue to pray for the Alabama Legislators and their families. Also, please pray for ALCAP as your missionaries to the Alabama State House.

Legislative Update – Week 6

There is not much to report from the Alabama Legislature during week #6 of the session. The Education Trust Fund Budget was passed by the House and now goes to the Senate, so that took a lot of the time.

One local bill (HB267), sponsored by Rep. James Buskey, allows the Mobile County Commission and/or city councils of local municipalities within Mobile County to change the start time for Sunday alcohol sales from noon to 10:00 a.m. passed the House and was presented to the local delegation of State Senators from Mobile County in a meeting on Thursday.

I attended the meeting and pointed out to the Representatives and Senators in attendance that this bill undoes what the Legislature voted to do last year. The “Brunch Bill” (as it was called) was passed last year and is currently the law in Alabama. This bill allows counties and municipalities to change the start time for Sunday alcohol sales by action of their local commissions and/or councils.

However, an amendment was added last year that stated that if the county or municipality passed Sunday alcohol sales by a referendum or as a constitutional amendment (both requiring a vote of the people), then it would take a vote of the people to change the start time.

With HB267, Mobile County is attempting to legalize an earlier start time for Sunday alcohol sales WITHOUT A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE! We encourage Mobile County residents to contact their State Senator and House Member and “pitch a fit” about this “sneaky” attempt to override the vote of the citizens of Mobile County. Also, those living in other areas of the state should beware. If this local bill passes, it will set a precedent for other counties and municipalities to follow in the future.

HB76, the Daycare Licensing Bill, will be in a Senate committee this Wednesday, February 21. We will let you know in our next update what happens in that committee meeting.

Legislative Update – Week 5

Week 5 of the 2018 Alabama Legislative Session was busy due to our annual ALCAP Board meeting on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. Attendance was good, but the flu and other serious reasons kept a number of board members away.

On Wednesday, February 8, I attended several committee meetings involving bills that ALCAP is tracking. The House Health Committee passed out of committee HB52, sponsored by Rep. Kerry Rich. This bill requires abortion clinics to refund a woman’s money if she decides at the last minute not to abort her baby.

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Development Committee met to discuss SB230, sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, and SB243, sponsored by Sen. Bill Holtzclaw. Public hearings were called for both bills. SB230 would allow alcohol to be sold at a specific resort area in Jackson County (a “dry” county where alcohol sales are prohibited) and SB243 would allow alcohol to be sold and delivered to a person’s door without having to go to the store to purchase it (applying to people within “dry” counties and municipalities, as well “wet” counties and municipalities). I spoke at the public hearing for SB230, but also shared my concerns about SB243 during my allotted time. After passing SB230 out of committee and sending it to the Senate floor for a vote later, the chairman announced that SB243 would be carried over, discussed and voted on at a later meeting.

Sunday alcohol sales bills are numerous. So far the following bills and cities or counties calling for Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages include:

HB77 – Childersburg
HB98 & SB124 – Fort Payne
HB208 – Ozark
HB210 – Dale County
HB267 – Mobile County
HB288 – Cherokee
HB395 – Troy
SB240 – Louisville
SB241 – Clio
SB244 – Bridgeport
SB279 – Union Springs

If you live in one of these cities or counties, please contact your House member and Senator in order to let them know of your opposition. Also, contact your county commissioner or city council representative and mayor to let them know of your opposition.

SB298, sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, would privatize the Alcohol Beverage Control stores. In states where this has happened, the consumption of liquor has increased dramatically and the revenues to the state have declined. ALCAP opposes privatization of the ABC stores because we do not want consumption rates to increase in our great state.

There are too many bills for me to report on each one. ALCAP is currently monitoring 96 bills and new bills are introduced each day while the Legislature is in session. If you would like to read through all the bills yourself, click here and follow the prompts.

Thank you for your prayer and financial support as we continue to minister at the Alabama State House and speak out on the issues confronting our state with a biblical perspective.

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
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

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