MONTGOMERY, Ala (WIAT) — The 2021 Regular Legislative session is now in the books in Alabama, but what are the big takeaways from lawmakers’ efforts?
Despite worries early on that the COVID-19 pandemic could derail this year’s session, in the end, several high-profile bills passed and signed into law.
“In both caucuses, where they have serious topics of discussion they wanted to work on, and we were able to work on those together,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Greg Reed, R-Jasper.
That feeling of accomplishment was echoed by his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia.
“When you really go back and look at it, we passed some good pieces of legislation. The rural initiative on workforce development, a lot of the agency bills were cleaned up. Some tax credits involved,” McCutcheon said.
Some other high-profile bills that passed this session include:
- A record setting $7.6 billion Education Trust Fund budget
- A record $2.4 billion General Fund budget
- Republicans also pushed and passed a bill to ban curbside voting despite Democratic opposition
- Alabama became the 37th state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana bill
But there were also some big bills that are dead at least for now, including:
- A comprehensive gambling plan that passed the senate but failed to even get a vote in the house
- A bill to limit the powers of the governor and state health officer during a health emergency like the COVD-19 pandemic
- A bill that would have banned medication to perform gender transition surgeries for minors
For Democrats, while they worked with republicans where they could, they say there are still issues worth fighting for, including voting access.
“We’re allowing bills, especially voting bills to divide us when at the end of the day we should be focused on expanding access instead of suppressing access to the ballot box,” said House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville.
Lawmakers will be back in Montgomery later this year for a special session on reapportionment for legislative lines ahead of next year’s election cycle.