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Senate committee approves ‘Healing History Act,’ retiree tax cut

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

A Alabama Senate Committee on Tuesday gave the first favorable vote to the “Healing History Act,” which creates a state fund for preserving and creating new monuments around the state.

Senate Bill 327’s focus is “monuments and memorials that date from the infancy of this state to the present, commemorating such individuals, causes, and events as the confederacy, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, and indigenous peoples, should stand together representing and uplifting diverse perspectives and significant events of Alabama history,” according to the bill text.

“Many of you know that there have been controversies around memorials and those sorts of things,” Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier, D-Selma told the Senate education budget committee on Tuesday morning. 

“… (The bill) has to do with embracing all of our history, embracing all of the memorials and making space for new ones,” Sanders-Fortier said. 

She said the goal is to learn together and “share truth and love for the sake of progressing our state.”

Sanders-Fortier said she’s had multiple conversations recently with Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, who championed legislation to protect Confederate monuments in the state.

Sanders-Fortier bill would allow for the names of “foot soldiers” to be added to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, for Sanders-Fortier said Allen had concerns about that part of the legislation.

The committee approved the bill on an 11-0 vote, though chairman Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, questioned whether some of the responsibilities the legislation puts on the Alabama State Council on the Arts would be better handled by the Alabama Historical Commission. 

The bill now moves to the full Senate and needs three more votes in the remaining six legislative days of the session.

The committee on Tuesday also approved:

House Bill 50 which sets up a $200,000 state grant program to provide free feminine hygiene products in Title I schools;

House Bill 331 to require Alabama 5 year olds attend kindergarten or take a readiness test before entering first grade;

House Bill 123 to require every public school system to hire a mental health services coordinator to oversee services to students. The requirement does come with state funding;

House Bill 162 to exempt from state income tax the first $6,000 of retirement income for Alabamians 65 and older.  The bill is estimated to cost the Education Trust Fund about $29 million per year.


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