With only one legislative day left in the 2021 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature (scheduled for May 17), SB319, Sen. Jim McClendon’s gambling bill appears to be “dead!” This bill calls for a constitutional amendment to be voted on by the people of Alabama, legalizing a state-sponsored lottery, full-fledged casino gambling at existing dog tracks and other locations, a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians, allowing them to have full-fledged casino gambling at their current locations and build a new casino in Northeast Alabama, and it would legalize sports betting and online gambling.
“Greedlock” (gridlock that occurs when various gambling enterprises cannot agree on a way for everyone to get a “piece of the gambling pie” cannot agree) seems to have been the major contributing factor. However, we have also heard that many, many pastors and church members contacted their State Senators and House Members, and that was certainly an important part of what stopped this massive gambling expansion in our state.
A last-minute attempt late Thursday night to bring the gambling bill to the floor of the House with a substitute that would have made it a “lottery only” bill, failed and caused a great deal of resentment among legislators. The Legislature will take a week off and return for the last day of the session on May 17.
It is unlikely the gambling bill will be on the House calendar that last day of the 2021 Legislative Session. However, we thought gambling was “dead” earlier in the session only to see it “rise from the ashes.” With that in mind, it is important for people to contact both their House members and State Senators and let them know of your opposition to any attempts at revisiting the gambling bill.
Since Governor Ivey was very involved in pushing the gambling bills, contact her office and let her know of your opposition to gambling. It is possible she could call a special session before next year in order to get gambling legislation passed, so let her know that you do not want her wasting tax-payer dollars on a special session to pass this terrible and immoral economic policy that takes from the poor and gives to the rich (“The Reverse Robin Hood Effect”). Ask her to give the Attorney General the resources he needs to shut down all the illegal gambling operations that she has indicated are “running rampant.” If illegal gambling is “running rampant” it is because the governor will not enforce the current laws against gambling.
In spite of heroic efforts by several members of the Alabama House of Representatives, the “medical” marijuana bill (SB46, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson) passed by a vote of 68-34 with one abstention. The Senate then concurred with the House amendments, sending the bill to the Governor’s desk for her signature. We are disappointed, but we will do everything we can to keep marijuana legalization from continuing to expand. In many states where “medical” marijuana has been legalized, recreational marijuana legalization has often followed.
VULNERABLE CHILD COMPASSION AND PROTECTION ACT (VCAP)
SB10, sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt, passed out of the Senate and out of the House Health Committee, but it continues to be kept off the House floor. This bill will protect children from hormone blockers and surgical procedures in order to change their birth sex before they are old enough to make that decision for themselves. We hope and pray that Speaker Mac McCutcheon will allow it to come to the floor for a vote on the final legislative day (May 17) and that the members of the House will vote YES on SB10.
ACTION ALERT: Contact Speaker Mac McCutcheon and ask him to place SB10 near the top of the House Special Order Calendar on May 17. Also, contact your own House member and encourage him/her to vote YES on SB10 if it comes up for debate. Click here if you know your State House Member’s name. Click on their picture and fill out the form to continue with your message. Click here if you do not know the name of your State House Member. Enter your zip-code. You will be directed to a page where you must scroll down to find your State Legislator.
HB246, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Gray, passed the House several weeks ago and then it passed the Senate late Thursday night just before the Senate adjourned. This bill will now go to the Governor for her signature. It will allow the Hindu practice of Yoga to be taught in public K-12 grades. The proponents argued publicly that it is “just stretching exercises.” However, stretching exercises are already allowed in public schools. Yoga is a Hindu practice that involves Eastern meditation and is heavily religious in nature. Sen. Dan Roberts successfully added an amendment requiring that parents sign a document to allow their child to participate in yoga practices.
Several alcohol-related bills passed this session, including a couple of bills that allow direct shipment of alcohol to the homes of individuals. Governor Ivey signed these bills into law, so don’t be surprised when you start reading of more underaged drinking problems in our state. Pray that I am wrong! We do not want to see any child or family hurt by this mind-altering and addictive drug.
ALCAP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SEARCH UPDATE As most of you are aware, I have announced my plan to retire from ALCAP and American Character Builders at the end of the 2022 Legislative Session (April 30, 2022). The search committee tasked with finding my successor, has prepared a special announcement on how to recommend and/or apply for this position. Click here for a copy of the announcement.