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Busy day, week ahead in the State House

The Alabama Legislature returns to Montgomery to resume the 2021 Regular Session today. 

Don’t look now but we are starting to get deep into the session. 

The House and Senate are expected to meet for the 19th, 20th and 21st legislative days this week. That means by Friday there will be just nine legislative days remaining. 

The House comes in at 1 p.m., the Senate at 2:30.

Today, the House will take up a slate of bills including Rep. K.L. Brown’s distracted driving bill. The Jacksonville Republican has tried for multiple sessions to ban the use of hand-held devices while driving.

In the upper chamber, Sen. Jim McClendon says he thinks it’s possible the Senate could vote on his lottery proposal this week. When the bill passed through committee there was a tacit agreement among senators that leadership would allow proponents of a wide ranging gambling bill to add casinos and sports betting back into the bill. Still, McClendon sounds like he wants to proceed. Read more on that from Kim Chandler HERE.

It’s a big week for education as the two policy committees in the House and Senate take up controversial bills.

Action kicks off today at a 10:45 a.m. Senate Education Policy Committee where the recently filed “Open Schools Act” will have a public hearing. Alabama Daily News reported Monday that Senate Bill 365 by Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, says that starting in the 2022-2023 school year, students from outside a system can enroll in its schools. A student enrolling in a school outside of his or her district of residence “shall pay the enrolling school district an amount that is equal to the per student share of the net local tax revenue” as determined by the State Department of Education.

Several education groups told ADN they had not been consulted about the legislation prior to its filing Thursday. Opposition is expected. 

Marsh, a school choice advocate, stepped down from his president pro tem role in the Senate this year to focus on major bills he wants to pass. This appears to be one of them.

On Wednesday, the House Education Policy Committee has a public hearing on Rep. Charlotte Meadows’ bill to expand the tax credits available to those who donate to private school scholarships under the Alabama Accountability Act. Public hearings are also called on bills to repeal the state’s education standards, previously known as Common Core, and to ban Alabama schools and colleges from involvement with Chinese Confucius institutes.

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Wednesday on Sen. Tim Melson’s medical marijuana bill. It quickly passed the Senate in February but has stalled in the House.

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