With the current legislative session in Alabama marking a third of the way finished on Tuesday, a number of high-profile bills have made significant progress.
Others have longer to go.
Here is a look at some of the most talked-about legislation in Montgomery:
Gambling. Two competing lottery bills head for the Senate Tourism Committee this week. Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), sponsor of one of those bills, told FOX10 News that only one is likely to make it out of committee and get a vote on the Senate floor.
His proposal would create a paper lottery only but not allow expansion of other forms of gambling. Revenue raised from the games first would be used to pay back a state trust fund that the Legislature borrowed from to close a shortfall in 2012. After the debt is repaid, half of the money would build up that trust fund further and half would go into the General Fund, which pays for state law enforcement, Medicaid, prisons – pretty much everything not related to schools.
Albritton described his bill as the conservative option. It would make way for a lottery but freeze other forms of gambling in place. Where it currently is legal, such as the state’s greyhound dog tracks, gambling could continue as-is. But it would not expand further.
“I’ve voted against every lottery bill that’s been up, OK?” he said. “So why am I sponsoring this? Couple reasons. No. 1 is I’m being bombarded by my constituents about giving them the opportunity.”
A bill by Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springfield), on the other hand, would divide revenue between the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund. And his proposal would allow video gaming in Mobile County and four other locations where electronic bingo or dog track betting now is allowed.
Both proposes would require an amendment to the state constitution. That means, the public would have to sign off in an election.
Medical marijuana. The proposal by state Rep. Mike Ball (R-Huntsville) would allow people with certain medical conditions to receive a medical cannabis card to buy the drug.
The legislation also establish a cannabis commission and create a patient registry, in addition to allowing for licenses to cultivate, process, ship, manufacture and sell the product.
This bill is pending in the House Committee on Health.
Marriages. Soon, a traditional marriage license may be a thing of the past in Alabama. Instead, people wanting to get married would file a certificate of marriage in probate court. Couples could have their marriages blessed in ceremonies if they wish, but probate judges no longer would be required to solemnize unions. And probate judges would not have the discretion to reject marriage certificates as they can with marriage licenses.
It is seen as a compromise solution to the controversy of same-sex marriage that led some probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses.
Albritton said the law currently requires each couple to file a marriage license. So, the requirement of filing paperwork in probate court would not change.
“What I have changed is I’ve removed the state from saying, ‘You can marry him,’ or ‘You can marry her.’ Or, ‘You can’t get married,’” he said. “It removes the state from being a gatekeeper of individuals, of how they choose to marry.”
The bill already passed the Senate 26-0, and last week passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.
Common Core. Critics of the educational standards for years have tried to repeal them. This year, the effort has gotten a new push from a powerful lawmaker – Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston).
It’s a reversal for Marsh, who has blocked previous efforts to repeal the standards. The bill would give the state until the 2021-22 school year to write new standards. The bill passed the Senate last month, 23-7, and is before the House Education Policy Committee.
Road Rage. The idea here is that slow pokes in the left-hand lane raise the anger level of other drivers. The so-called Anti-Road Rage Act by Rep. Phillip Pettus (R-Killen) would make it illegal for drivers to stay in the left lane of highways for more than a mile and a half without passing someone.
The House passed this bill last week, 61-24. It awaits action in the Senate.
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