Digital Media Center
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Gate 61
920 Paul Bryant Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0370
(800) 654-4262

© 2024 Alabama Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lottery and ethics reform fail to pass during Alabama’s legislative session

Pixabay

Gambling legislation and proposed changes to the state ethics law failed to win final approval at the end of Alabama’s lawmaking session in Montgomery. Lawmakers faced a public backlash over IVF access. Clinics paused services following a state court ruling equating frozen embryos to children. Lawmakers approved lawsuit protections to get services restarted, but sidestepped the broader issue of whether frozen embryos should be considered people. Alabama lawmakers did end the 2024 legislative session which saw the Republican majority win approval for a number of their top priorities. Legislators approved a school choice bill, restrictions on absentee ballot applications and limits on diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public schools, universities and state agencies.

WHAT FAILED

GAMBLING

Lottery and casino legislation failed after not getting the needed support in the Alabama Senate. A conference committee proposal would have authorized a state lottery and slot machines and video poker, but not table games, at seven locations.

ETHICS LAW CHANGES

Legislation that would have rewritten the state ethics law passed the House of Representatives but died in Senate committee. Republican Rep. Matt Simpson said his goal was to make the ethics law easier to understand. The legislation was opposed by the state attorney general's office.

DEATH PENALTY CHANGES

The House Judiciary Committee voted down legislation that would allow about 30 death row inmates, who were given death sentences despite a jury's recommendation of life imprisonment, to receive new sentences. Alabama lawmakers abolished judicial override in 2017, but the change was not retroactive.

PRIDE FLAG BAN/ LIBRARY CONTENT

Lawmakers did not approve a proposal that would have prohibited teachers and school employees from displaying Pride flags on public school property. Another bill that did not pass would have allowed librarians to be arrested under the state obscenity law because of library content and programs.

WHAT WAS APPROVED

IN VITRO FERTILIZATION

Some IVF providers in the state paused services because of a court ruling that equated frozen embryos to children. Lawmakers faced public pressure to get IVF services restarted and approved lawsuit protections to address the liability concerns raised by the ruling. However, lawmakers sidestepped the broader issue of whether frozen embryos should be considered people.

CHOOSE ACT

The CHOOSE Act is school choice program similar to school vouchers that will provide eligible families with as much as $7,000 to help pay for private school and $2,000 for homeschooling expenses. Gov. Kay Ivey had championed the measure in her State of the State address.

ABSENTEE VOTING

The new law criminalizes certain types of assistance with absentee ballot applications. It is a misdemeanor to return another person's absentee ballot application and a felony to pay someone to distribute or collect applications. A lawsuit was filed challenging the new law.

DEI

The law that takes effect Oct. 1 bans diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public schools, universities and state agencies and prohibits the teaching of "divisive concepts" including that someone should feel guilty because of their race or gender. The legislation was part of a national wave of Republican proposals taking aim at DEI programs.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Lawmakers approved a series of bills aimed at addressing a worker shortage. The measures include legislation that would provide tax credits to business that help employees with child care costs through child care stipends, on-site day care or reserved spots at licensed facilities.

TEACHER PAY RAISE

An approved $9.3 billion education budget includes a 2% pay increase for public school teachers and employees. The governor has set a goal of making starting teacher pay the highest among neighboring states.

BIDEN BALLOT ACCESS

Lawmakers adjusted the candidate certification deadline to ensure that President Joe Biden will appear on the November ballot. The same accommodation was made four years ago for then-President Donald Trump. Alabama has one of the earliest certification deadlines in the country.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
News from Alabama Public Radio is a public service in association with the University of Alabama. We depend on your help to keep our programming on the air and online. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.