This week, the Alabama House passed HB234, sponsored by Rep. Neil Rafferty, which allows alcoholic beverages to be sold from food trucks in Class I Municipalities. Currently, the only Class I Municipality in Alabama is Birmingham, but we are confident other, smaller cities will follow that example. Initially, the bill was very vague, and ALCAP expressed a number of concerns during a public hearing in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee last week. Though we are still opposed to this bill and will work to stop its passage in the Senate, we are glad to report that one of our major concerns was addressed in a floor amendment. The food trucks will not be allowed to set up their own “entertainment district” with their own perimeters outlined, but they must operate in an already existing entertainment district within the city.
We are still waiting for the gambling expansion bills to be introduced by Sen. Greg Albritton, but he has not dropped those bills as of this week. This may indicate that he is having trouble getting support for his legislation. However, we will continue to work against any and all gambling expansion bills.
The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act (VCAP) bills (SB184, sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt, and HB150, sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen) continue to progress through both houses. The Senate Healthcare Committee has approved the bill and sent it to the full Senate for a vote, while the House Judiciary Committee is expected to discuss and (hopefully) pass HB150 this coming Wednesday. Both bills will protect children from parents who may want to change the sex of their child through puberty blockers and surgical procedures. There are exceptions in the bill for the use of puberty blockers in certain cases but not for the purpose of trying to change a child’s sex.
Rep. Rich Wingo was planning to introduce a bill that would prevent Medicaid funds in Alabama from being used to perform abortions in the event that the Hyde Amendment should be left out of Congress’s appropriations legislation. (The Hyde Amendment has kept tax-payer money from being used to perform abortions since 1980.) However, after careful research, it was determined that since federal funds constitute half of the Medicaid dollars and the federal rules take precedence, this bill would not be constitutional. After reaching that decision in a meeting with Rep. Wingo, ALCAP’s legal advisor and Joe Godfrey providentially ran into a member of the Alabama congressional delegation in the hallway of the Alabama State House minutes later. We asked him whether the Hyde Amendment would be restored before the federal appropriations legislation passes, and he assured us that it would be. He stated that several Democrat members of Congress, along with the majority of Republicans would not pass the appropriations bill unless the Hyde Amendment is put back into the bill. We will continue to monitor this situation, but this was a very encouraging word.
Continue to pray for Greg Davis, Joe Godfrey, and Eric Johnston as we walk the halls of the Alabama Legislature and advocate for a biblical perspective on the moral issues facing our state. Pray, too, for the legislators and staff that work at the State House and their families. In particular, pray for Sen. Dan Roberts and his wife, Anne, who is hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Please contact your legislators in the Alabama House and Senate, assure them of your prayers, and ask them to oppose any and all bills that would expand gambling and alcohol in our state. In order to contact your legislators, click on the link to navigate to the ALCAP website. At the ALCAP website click on the “find my legislator” button and enter your full street address. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find your Alabama State Legislator.