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6/2/2008 - June 2008 Educational Update - Alabama Legislature 2008 Regular Session - Another Difficult Year





To:                  SLI Supporters                                 


Date:               June 2008  


From:              A. Eric Johnston


Re:                  Alabama Legislature 2008 Regular Session - Another Difficult Year



            2008 was the second year in the quadrennium of this Legislature.  In short, all favorable moral and family related bills died, along with attempts to expand gambling and homosexual rights in Alabama.  Probably the most significant thing that can be said about this session was that the Senate spent at least ten full days of its 30 days on SB191, a bill that would have provided a monopoly on electronic unregulated bingo gambling at the Macon County racetrack facility, including immunity from all Alabama criminal and constitutional prohibitions.  For a more detailed analysis of this bill see our  May 2008 Educational Update.  Here are the outcome of the more important bills:


Sanctity of Life and Related Bills


-          HB562 (McClurkin) - passed House, but no Senate action; would provide for donation or storage of umbilical cord blood products for stem cell use.

-          HB490 (McClurkin) - filed in House, but no action; would protect healthcare providers rights of religion, morals and ethics in certain healthcare procedures, viz., abortion, embryonic stem cell research, etcetera.

-          HB723 (McLaughlin) - passed House committee, but died in House; would make it a crime to injure an unborn child by ingestion of a controlled substance.

-          HB336 (Collier) - passed House Judiciary Committee, but died in House; would provide a civil right of action for damages for the death of an unborn child.

-          HB266 (Allen) - died in House Health Committee; would prohibit cloning of humans.


Religion, Family and Related Bills


-          HB829 (Holmes) - passed House, but died in Senate; would amend the Hate Crimes Law to include sexual orientation.

-          HB844 (Galliher) - died in House Education Appropriations Committee; would exempt churches from state, county and city sales and use taxes.

-          SB14 (Erwin) - died in Senate Judiciary Committee; would strengthen laws on divorce requiring 365 day waiting period when children involved, and other protective provisions.

-          SB20 (Erwin) - died in Senate Education Committee; would allow nonpublic school students (home, church, private) to participate in public school athletics and fine arts extracurricular activities.

-          HJR415 (Galliher) - passed House, but died in Senate; would declare Easter week as Christian Heritage Week.


Gambling Bills


-          SB191 (Penn) - died in Senate; would provide electronic bingo gambling monopoly without state regulation in Macon County with immunity from all criminal and constitutional prohibitions.

-          HB577 (Black) - passed House Tourism and Travel Committee, but died in House; would expand electronic bingo gambling at the Jefferson and Mobile County racetracks, creating monopolies with immunity.

-          HB197 (McCampbell) - passed House Committee on Local Legislation, but died in House; would expand electronic bingo gambling in Greene County, also allowing networking with offsite gambling locations.

-          SB93 (Singleton) - died in Senate; Senate version of HB197 for Greene County.


            In addition to the above bills, there were others, including a number that dealt with alcohol and controlled substances in relation to children and families.  This included SB11 (Erwin) which would have made it a crime to possess a machine that allows a person to inhale alcohol without the need of liquid; HB950 (McLaughlin) to enhance DUI penalties; and HB393 (Martin and Gipson) which would allow any town, regardless of size, to hold a referendum on the sale of alcohol (see our March 2007 Educational Update[1] for an explanation of the Geral Greene v. Town of Cedar Bluff case which deals with the Legislature's abusive practices of passing laws not permitted by the Alabama Constitution).


            After reviewing this list you might realize that all of these bills have moral implications.  The only conclusion to which we can come is that the Alabama Legislature is deadlocked on issues involving morality, whether moral or immoral.  It appears we will continue to have this struggle for the next two years.  This means inordinate amounts of time will be spent to stop gambling expansion, while sanctity of life, religious issues and other moral  issues make no progress at all.  There are quite an array of well paid lobbyists on the immoral issues.  There are few who stand in the gap in opposition to them.  We at SLI are privileged to work with those few by providing legal advice, counsel, bill drafting, testimony and other legal services.

[1] For any of SLI's Educational Updates, see www.southeastlawinstitute.org.



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