Arise legislative update: March 18, 2024

The Alabama Legislature is coming back into session after taking off last week. Arise’s Akiesha Anderson provides updates on what’s happened most recently — including unfortunate news on anti-DEI legislation — and gets you ready for another busy week ahead. Legislation we’re monitoring this week includes a bill to reform Alabama’s felony murder rule and a proposal to remove the sales tax from baby supplies and feminine hygiene products.


Full video text:

Hello, my name is Akiesha Anderson, and if you’re new to these videos, I’m the policy and advocacy director for Alabama Arise. After a much needed break from the State House last week, I am back to give you an update on what happened during the fifth week of the legislative session and what we’re expecting during this upcoming week.

As you likely know, legislators were not at the State House last week. Rather, they were in their districts for a constituent work week in which they were hopefully making time to talk to you and others that they represent. However, the week prior to that workweek, a whole lot happened.

Most notably, the House unfortunately passed both SB 29, which was the anti-diversity, equity and inclusion bill, and SB 1, the bill that restricts access to absentee voting. Both of these bills will be back in the Senate, where the Senate must approve of them before they will be sent off to the governor. There were some minor changes made to both in the House, and so I do not anticipate that the Senate will put up a fight, unfortunately. But most likely, these bills will get a vote this week in the Senate and then be sent off to the governor.

Also, by the time the Legislature left to take last week off, they had officially utilized half of their allocated legislative days. This means that at the time of this recording, we are officially halfway through the legislative session. While this pace feels a bit unprecedented, it is likely that the Legislature will continue its three-day workweek this week before going on a spring break next week, and then they will hopefully slow their pace somewhat in April. I’m being told that in April they will begin utilizing two-day work weeks instead of three. Two-day workweeks are definitely a bit a bit more typical, and this will allow them to buy time to pass the budgets.

Before sharing what’s happening this week, I do want to give you some status updates on bills that you’ve heard me talk about in prior weeks. So to begin, HB 29, which is the CHOOSE Act, and which could divert a minimum of $100 million in public education funds to private or home schools, was signed into law by the governor. SB 35 by Sen. Smitherman, which would require that history instruction be fact-based and inclusive, has passed out of a Senate committee and is waiting to be deliberated by the full Senate. HB 32 by Rep. England, which would reform and clarify Alabama’s felony murder rule, had a public hearing the week before last. Thus, we expect the House Judiciary Committee to vote on this bill this Wednesday, March 20.

HB 102 by Rep. Susan DuBose and SB 53 by Sen. Arthur Orr would both eliminate the eligibility to work form that children ages 14 and 15 are required to get signed by their schools before being employed. Both versions of this bill are expected to be considered by the full House sometime soon or at least to be in position to be considered by the full House sometime soon. The Senate version of this bill does still need to make it out of a House committee. However, it’s possible that that could happen as early as this week.

Other bills that we are watching this week include HB 188 by Rep. Terri Collins. This bill would create a uniform and improved process for the suspension or expulsion of public school students. The House Education Policy Committee has been assigned this bill, and they are expected to deliberate it this week. Also, HB 236 by Rep. Rafferty and SB 62 by Sen. Orr would both eliminate the sales tax for diapers, baby supplies, baby formula and feminine hygiene products. The Senate version of this bill is expected to be in House committee, whereas the House version of this bill is already positioned to be deliberated by the full House. That means that both or either of these bills will likely be in a position by this week to be deliberated by the full House.

And then lastly SB 31, which has been making a lot of news, will be in committee this week. And so SB 31 is a bill introduced by Sen. Waggoner. It has already made it out of the Senate and is in a House committee this week. But this is the bill that would be that is designed to get the state to give Birmingham-Southern a loan. It is also scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday, March 19, at 11:30 a.m., and that public hearing will take place in the Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Other things to keep an eye out for this week are new bills that legislators may introduce. So for example, the child tax credit bill that has been touted in the news as well by Lt. Gov. Ainsworth and others is expected to be introduced by Sen. Gudger and Rep. Daniels as early as this week. If legislators are hoping to get any legislation passed that has not been introduced yet, it is definitely to their benefit, especially for the sake of time, to try to have those bills filed as soon as possible. This week is ideal given the fact that they will be on the spring break next week.

Now the last thing to make sure you have on your radar is Arise’s upcoming advocacy day. So if you have not already marked your calendars to join us at the State House on Tuesday, April 2, please do. We hope to have as many people as possible to talk to legislators about our various issues, so register to join us. All you have to do is visit and click on “Get Involved” and then click on “Upcoming Events.” That will take you directly to the page that you need to utilize to sign up. We definitely need you to let us know that you’re coming so that we can make sure we have an adequate head count, enough room for everyone, as well as meals for everyone. So I look forward to hopefully seeing you there, and in the meantime, take care.