The Alabama House Democratic Caucus on Wednesday hosted a Zoom call that discussed their legislative agenda for the current 2021 legislative session. The call included Democratic House members Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville), Adline Clarke (D-Mobile), Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile), Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), Neil Rafferty (D-Birmingham), Mary Moore (D-Birmingham), Artis McCampbell (D-Livingston), and Laura Hall (D-Huntsville).
During the call, each speaker discussed bills that the party will be pushing during the session. The topics include criminal justice reform, the economy, healthcare, law enforcement reform, voting, and civil rights, as well as education. If you are interested in watching the call, you can do so on their Facebook page.
Below you will find each bill that was discussed and a description of what the bill hopes to accomplish. Clicking on each bill will provide you with the current bill’s information including the full bill text to read for yourself. If you are interested in following a bill and receiving email updates when a bill is being updated, you can sign up for a free account to do that by visiting this link. Once registered you simply go to the bills page and click the follow button. Easy, simple, and free.
Criminal Justice Reform
Under the existing habitual felony offender act, enhanced penalties are established for felony criminal defendants who have been previously convicted of one or more felony offenses.
This bill would repeal the Habitual Felony Offender Act.
This bill would provide for resentencing for defendants whose sentences were based on the Habitual Felony Offender Act.
Sentencing, to revise sentencing standards in certain circumstances, to repeal habitual felony offender act, to provide for resentencing for defendants whose sentences were based on the habitual felony offender act.
Under current law, a person convicted of a criminal offense may only apply for an expungement in very limited circumstances.
This bill would expand the expungement of criminal records to include convictions of certain misdemeanor offenses, traffic violations, municipal ordinances, and felony offenses.
Expungement, to expand the expungement of criminal records to include convictions of certain misdemeanor offenses, traffic violations, municipal ordinances, and felony offenses, to increase the filing fee for expungements.
This bill would require the newly established Office of the Chief Procurement Officer and the Secretary of State to collect data relating to minority and women-owned businesses in the state and participation by those businesses in the state procurement process.
The bill would require the Chief Procurement Officer to annually present a summary of the information and data gathered to the Contract Review Permanent Legislative Oversight Committee, and, upon request, provide that data to the Legislative Services Agency.
State purchasing, collection of data by Secretary of State as Chief Procurement Officer.
This bill would provide a cost-of-living increase for state employees for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2021.
State employees, cost-of-living increase for fiscal year beginning October 1, 2020.
This bill would establish a procedure by which wireless providers would be authorized to collocate, mount, or install small wireless facilities on existing poles, or install new poles on the right-of-way of the state or any agency, county, or municipality thereof.
This bill would exempt small wireless facilities from certain zoning review and approval procedures.
This bill would establish a procedure for the permitting of the development of small wireless facilities and poles in the rights-of-way of the state.
This bill would establish rates and fees for all permits for small wireless facilities.
Wireless telecommunications, installation and deployment of small wireless facilities and associated poles, towers, and base stations on the public rights-of-way, authorized.
Under existing law, the state imposes sales or use taxes upon certain persons, firms, or corporations. Sales of certain items are taxed at a reduced rate. Sales of other items are exempt from the taxes.
This bill would phase out the state sales and use taxes on food by reducing the rates by one percentage point over a four-part reduction schedule beginning October 1, 2021.
This bill would exempt sales of food from the sales and use taxes beginning October 1, 2025.
State sales and use tax increased, phase-in period, sales and use tax on food phased out, exempt by 2007, counties and municipalities prohibited from increasing sales tax on food.
Under federal law, a pregnant woman who is eligible for medical assistance under Medicaid must be provided medical assistance for a period of 60 days after giving birth.
This bill would extend the period during which a pregnant woman who is eligible to receive medical assistance under Medicaid may continue to receive Medicaid assistance from 60 days to one year after giving birth.
Medicaid, extend postpartum coverage for eligible pregnant women to one year after birth.
This bill would expand the Medicaid program, in light of our on going and rural health crisis, to provide assistance to all persons for whom matching funds are available to the state under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Medicaid, expand program to provide assistane to state residents, provide appropriations for adequate funding.
Law Enforcement Reform
Under existing law, the Department of Corrections is required to provide information to the Joint Legislative Prison Oversight Committee.
This bill would require the department to provide additional information to the Joint Legislative Prison Oversight Committee.
Under existing law, an officer or guard is required to take an oath prior to performing his or her duties of the office.
This bill would require all correctional officers to take an oath prior to performing his or her duties of the office.
Corrections Dept., require the dept. to make quarterly reports to the Joint Legislative Prison Oversight Committee and to provide for the reporting requirements, revise the correctional officers oath of office.
Existing law does not require the keeping of statistics to determine if traffic stops are being made by state and local law enforcement officers solely on the basis of racial or ethnic status.
This bill would define racial profiling and would prohibit a law enforcement officer from engaging in racial profiling.
This bill would require local law enforcement agencies and the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency to adopt written policies to prohibit racial profiling.
This bill would require the adoption of the forms to be used for statistics of traffic stops; would provide for the handling of complaints; would require reports to be filed in the Office of the Attorney General; and would provide for the reporting and collection of data on injuries to state and local law enforcement officers.
Traffic stops, racial profiling by law enforcement officers, prohibited, written policies, forms for statistics, and reports to Attorney General required, provision for complaints, reporting and collection of data on injuries to officers.
This bill would create a Law Enforcement Officer Employment Database for implementation and maintenance by the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission.
This bill would require law enforcement agencies to report certain complaints, disciplinary actions, and background information of law enforcement officers to the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission.
This bill would provide civil penalties for law enforcement agencies that fail to report certain activities of law enforcement officers.
This bill would provide that information in the database is confidential and would provide criminal penalties for unauthorized access to the database.
This bill would also require former employers of law enforcement officers to give full disclosure of an officer’s employment history in the event that another law enforcement agency in this state requests the information and would provide immunity for disclosures made in good faith.
This bill would require that prior to employment, law enforcement agencies must complete and submit a full background check on law enforcement officers to the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission.
This bill would require the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission to collect and maintain data related to the pre-employment check.
This bill would outline the requirements for a pre-employment check and who is authorized to obtain the information.
This bill would provide criminal penalties for the release or disclosure of any information received from the pre-employment check to any individual not authorized to receive it.
This bill would also create civil immunity for any responsible agency that discloses information for the purposes for which it is authorized.
Law enforcement, procedures to create a database to maintain law enforcement information providing civil protections, providing for background checks and pre-employment checks.
Voting & Civil Rights
Under existing law, a person who has lost his or her right to vote based upon a past criminal conviction, may apply to the Board of Pardons and Paroles for a Certificate of Eligibility to Register to Vote under certain circumstances, including payment of all fines, court costs, fees, and victim restitution as ordered by the sentencing court and completion of probation or parole and release from compliance by the court or Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Also under existing law, a person who been granted a Certificate of Eligibility to Register to Vote by the Board of Pardons and Paroles can register or reregister as an elector upon submission of a copy of the certificate to the board of registrars of the county of his or her residence.
This bill would remove the process of applying to the Board of Pardons and Paroles for a Certificate of Eligibility to Register to Vote for a person to have his or her right to vote restored.
This bill would eliminate the requirement that a person pay all fines, court costs, fees, and victim restitution prior to having his or her right to vote restored.
This bill would also expand restoration of voting rights to a person who has been released from incarceration for five or more years.
Voting rights restoration, process of applying for Certificate of Eligibility to Register to Vote, eliminate requirement to pay fines and fees to regain right to vote, expand persons eligible for restoration of voting rights.
Under existing law, a voter who is entitled to vote by absentee ballot is required to submit a form of identification.
This bill would add a valid inmate identification card or other form of identification to the list of acceptable forms of identification to vote by absentee ballot.
Absentee voting, inmate identification card valid form of ID to vote absentee.
Under existing law, the only way for an elector to vote before election day in this state is to vote by absentee ballot, provided the elector meets one of the excuses that allows for absentee voting.
This bill would provide a process for early voting in general and special elections, other than municipal elections.
This bill would prescribe minimum days and hours of operation of early voting centers.
This bill would allow an elector, without excuse, to cast his or her vote using a voting machine at an early voting center.
This bill would require each county commission to establish early voting center locations in the county and establish a communications plan to publish notice of early voting in the respective county.
This bill would provide that staffing, reimbursement of election expenses, and election day conduct would apply to early voting.
This bill would require the Secretary of State to adopt rules to ensure the process does not permit electors to vote more than once in any election.
Election, early voting, in-person voting period, authorized.
Under existing law, an application for an absentee ballot must be received not less than five days before an election.
Under existing law, a registered voter may only vote by absentee ballot if he or she meets one of the criteria prescribed by law for voting absentee.
Under existing law, the absentee manager must begin delivering sealed affidavit envelopes containing absentee ballots to elections officials by noon on election day.
Also, under existing law, an absentee ballot may not be counted unless it is postmarked as of the date prior to the day of the election.
This bill would allow the absentee election manager to appoint additional assistants.
This bill would require mailed absentee ballot applications to be received 10 days before an election and hand delivered applications to be received five days before an election.
This bill would also allow a registered voter to vote by absentee ballot without an excuse.
This bill would require the absentee election manager to begin delivering sealed affidavit envelopes containing absentee ballots to elections officials at an earlier time on election day.
This bill would eliminate the requirement that an absentee ballot be postmarked as of the date prior to the day of the election.
Absentee voting, to allow the absentee election manager to appoint additional assistants, to further provide for absentee ballots applications, to authorize absentee voting without an excuse, to provide further for the process of counting absentee ballots, to eliminate the requirement that an absentee ballot be postmarked as of date prior to election day.
This bill would provide for automatic voter registration in conjunction with obtaining, updating, or renewing a driver’s license or nondriver identification card.
This bill would also authorize the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency and the Secretary of State to adopt rules.
Voting, automatic voter registration, process established.
Under existing law, a person may not register to vote during the 14-day period before an election.
This bill would allow a person to register to vote up to and on the day of the election in which he or she votes.
Voter registration, authorize registration same day as election.
Under existing law, the state observes certain days as state holidays.
This bill would designate the third Saturday in June of each year as Juneteenth National Freedom Day to commemorate the abolition of slavery throughout the United States and its territories in 1865.
This bill would require the Governor to issue an annual proclamation honoring this observance and recognizing the important contributions African-Americans have made to Alabama’s communities, culture, and economy.
This bill would encourage the Governor to take action necessary to promote and encourage the observance of Juneteenth.
This bill would allow public schools to offer instruction and programs regarding Juneteenth.
Holidays, Juneteenth National Freedom Day, commemorate the abolition of slavery.
This bill would designate the nineteenth day of each June as the state holiday of Juneteenth and would require the Governor to issue an annual proclamation honoring this observance.
This bill would allow each county and municipality to elect to observe Juneteenth as a holiday.
Holidays, to make Juneteenth a state holiday, require Governor to issue proclamation, allow counties and municipalities to elect to observe.
This bill would authorize a county or municipality to remove any monument located on public property under the jurisdiction and control of the county or municipality and would require the transfer of ownership of the monument to the Department of Archives and History or the Alabama Historical Commission for maintenance and appropriate public display.
This bill would also repeal the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017.
Historical monuments, local governments authorized to remove and required to transfer ownership to Archives and History or Alabama Historical Commission for public display, Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017.
This bill would amend the Elder Abuse Protection Order and Enforcement Act to require the redaction of sensitive information including addresses and phone numbers for an elder abuse plaintiff from court documents made available to the public.
This bill would also amend the Elder Abuse Protection Order and Enforcement Act to clarify that an elderly person who is of sound mind or body may hire legal representation to pursue a petition for relief under the provisions of the act.
Elder abuse, require redaction of contract information from court documents released to the public, to clarify that an elderly person of sound mind or body may hire legal counsel for representation.
Under existing state law, employees in Alabama have no protections against pregnancy discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.
This bill would create the Alabama Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for employees related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the employer.
This bill would require employers to post a notice of employee rights and authorize the Department of Labor to administer and enforce the Alabama Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to provide workplace protections against pregnancy discrimination and related medical conditions, Secs. 25-15-1 to 25-15-7, inclusive, added.
Under existing law, the principal of a school, or his or her designee, is required to hold an annual training session for employees of the school regarding the school lockdown plan, drills, and procedures to be conducted during a school year.
This bill would require mental health awareness to be included in the annual training session.
School safety, to require mental health awareness to be included in the annual training session for employees of each K-12 school.
Under existing law, a child who is six years of age on or before December 31 is entitled to admission to the first grade in the public elementary schools, and a child who is five years of age on or before September 1 is entitled to admission to the local public school kindergartens.
This bill would require a child to attend kindergarten before entering the first grade.
This bill would require a child who is five years of age on or before September 1 to enroll in kindergarten and would provide for circumstances under which a child who is under five years of age on September 1 may be admitted to public kindergarten.
Public schools, require a child successfully complete kindergarten before being admitted to the first grade.
Under existing law, lotteries and gift enterprises are prohibited.
This bill would propose an amendment to Section 65 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to establish an Alabama Lottery to fund education and general fund programs; to create an Alabama Lottery Corporation; to provide that lottery proceeds will not supplant or replace existing education revenues; to establish the Lottery Trust Fund; to permit the Legislature to pass general laws to implement the amendment; and to terminate the lottery and the Alabama Lottery Corporation after a specified period of time.
Alabama lottery, Alabama Lottery Corporation established, distribution of proceeds, duties and power terminated after a specified time, Section 65, Constitution of Alabama of 1901, am'd, const. amd.
Brent Wilson was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama and is the Owner and Chief Editor of BamaPolitics.com.