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Alcohol delivery bill advances; COVID-19 lawsuit protections get final approval

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

Here is a look through some of the work accomplished during the second week of the Alabama legislature’s regular session.

Alcohol delivery bill clears Senate

The Senate on Thursday approved a bill to allow home delivery of beer, wine and alcohol. Sen. Jabo Waggoner’s Senate Bill 126 sets up a delivery license process, fees and rules. This legislation is the same as Rep. Gil Isbell’s House Bill 229, which has received committee approval. Isbell, R-Gadsden, last month said the legislation would allow companies like Birmingham-based Shipt that bring people their groceries to also bring alcohol.

“It’s about the convenience, we’re in a busy world,” Isbell said.

The bills are separate from legislation to allow direct shipment of wine from wineries and retailers to Alabamians’ homes.

License plate data bill advances

The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee approved Senate Bill 2, which would allow law enforcement agencies to use automated license plate recognition systems on public highways, but specify that collected information can only be used for law enforcement purposes.

The bill from Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, says “law enforcement agencies may not sell license plate recognition data for any purpose and may not make the data available to any agency, corporation, or association that is not a law enforcement agency nor to any individual who is not a law enforcement officer.”

Orr told the committee that his concern is tech companies that offer to collect data for law enforcement agencies, but also sell it to third parties who use it for targeted advertising and other purposes.

“If you’re using the roads of Alabama, maybe you don’t want to share your movements,” Orr said. The bill now goes to the Senate.

COVID-19 liability goes to Governor

Senate Bill 30 from Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, which would give businesses and other groups liability protection from civil lawsuits related to COVID-19, passed its final vote in the House on Thursday.

Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, said on the House floor the legislation will help protect small businesses from frivolous lawsuits.

“The pandemic has shown just how vital small businesses are to the state and I think this is critical legislation,” Garrett said.

The final vote was 86-4 with Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham, Rep. Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro, Rep. Barbra Boyd, D-Anniston, and Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, voting against the bill. The bill now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey, who is expected to sign it into law.

Several democratic House members said on Thursday that the bill gives too much blanket protection and could end up protecting “bad actors.”

“I think every individual should have their day in court and I don’t see the need for it,” Rep. Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro, on Thursday.

5G Small Cell Technology passes final vote

Senate Bill 76 from Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and sponsored in the House by Rep. Rodd Scott, D-Fairfield, passed the House unanimously on Thursday. The bill will help with the deployment of 5G small cell technology throughout the state, sponsors say, by setting limits on how much money local governments can charge providers for access to utility structures.

The bill creates a uniform application process that local governments will use, as well as a timeline for approval. It also creates a cap on fees.

“It really is an economic development bill,” Scott said. “It puts us technologically in place to move on the development of businesses and growing businesses.”

Scott explained that one amendment passed in the Senate clarifies that the Alabama Department of Transportation has control over the rights-of-way on federal highways and can approve any changes made to them.

The bill now goes to the governor.

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