2024 Alabama Legislative Update: Regular Session - Week Five



This week, the Senate passed a version of the comprehensive gaming package after roughly nine hours of debate.  Numerous substantive changes were made in the Senate to the House version of the legislation, which came over to the chamber two weeks ago. One of the most notable changes made was the removal of casinos and sports betting from the plan. The legislation will now be sent back to the House, where they are expected to oppose the Senate’s changes to the bill. This will likely lead to a conference between the House and Senate, during which a final bill will be debated and drafted. The conference legislation will then be presented to both chambers for a final vote.   

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)  

This week, the legislature and Governor addressed the concerns of in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics and patients after the recent judicial opinion which found that frozen embryos are children under Alabama law. Senator Tim Melson and Representative Terri Collins carried the now-enacted legislation in their respective chambers.  

The legislation provides civil and criminal immunity to persons providing goods and services related to IVF, except acts or omissions that are intentional and not arising from or related to IVF services. Several IVF doctors watched the passage of the legislation from the gallery, and they publicly stated that this legislation would immediately allow the resumption of IVF activities in Alabama. Governor Ivey has signed this bill into law.   

Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI)  

On Thursday, the House passed a bill sponsored by Senator Will Barfoot and Representative Ed Oliver that places restrictions on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs in the state. This legislation would prevent state agencies, public schools, and colleges from allocating funds to DEI offices, sponsoring DEI programs, or advocating for divisive concepts. Democrats opposed the bill, communicating their displeasure with it during a lengthy House floor debate. This bill will now return to the Senate to concur with the House changes before being sent to the Governor for her signature.   

Pharmacy Legislation  

This week, a bill regarding prescription drug prices received a favorable report from the House Insurance Committee. This legislation would place a $10.64 fee on every prescription dispensed in the state, to an estimated extra annual cost of $275 per person or $1,100 for families.   

During a public hearing on this bill, proponents, composed primarily of pharmacists, stated that this legislation addresses the overhead cost of filling prescriptions. The opponents, including f businesses and medical service providers, argued that this legislation places an additional financial burden on consumers and businesses. The business community, including the state Chamber of Commerce, strongly opposes this bill, arguing that it affects businesses' ability to provide competitive benefits and maintain a healthy workforce.   

School Choice - CHOOSE Act 

After a lengthy debate, the Senate passed the CHOOSE Act with a vote of 23-9. As mentioned in previous legislative updates, this bill provides education savings accounts (ESAs) for parents to use to provide education services for their children. It has now been passed in both chambers and signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey.   

When signing the legislation, Governor Ivey stated, “Today, we've finally overcome the last hurdle in enacting Alabama's historic education savings account plan after the Alabama Senate strongly approved the CHOOSE Act. While our state has a strong public education system, all Alabama families will soon have the right to choose their children's schools."  

Property Tax Cap 

Legislation, sponsored by Representative Phillip Pettus and Senator David Sessions, relating to real property tax assessments received a favorable report from the House Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee this week. This legislation would establish a cap on real property tax assessments under certain conditions. Specifically, property tax assessments on Class III properties, such as single-family homes and agricultural land, and Class II properties, including commercial and business real estate, would be capped at 5%. Currently, there is no limit to increases in the assessed value of real property. This legislation will now go to the full House for consideration, where amendments are expected.   

Ballot Harvesting 

The “ballot harvesting” bill, sponsored by Senator Garlan Gudger and Representative Jamie Kiel, primarily focuses on prohibiting assistance in completing an absentee ballot in exchange for compensation. This bill has passed the House and will go back to the Senate for concurrence on the changes made by the House. Specifically, the legislation states that third parties who knowingly receive payment or gifts for activities related to assisting with completing absentee ballot applications would be committing a felony. Additionally, individuals who knowingly provide payment or gifts to a third party for the same activities could face criminal charges.   


On Wednesday, the House Committee gave a favorable report on legislation sponsored by Representative Matt Simpson that would overhaul the state’s ethics law. Changes outlined in the bill include altering the punishments for public officials who solicit or accept a bribe, altering the powers of the state’s ethics commission, and setting the term of the Director of the Ethics Commission to five years. This much-anticipated legislation will now go to the full House for its review.   

Birmingham Southern College 

This week, the Senate passed legislation, sponsored by Senator Jabo Waggoner, that would allow Birmingham Southern College to reapply for a $30 million loan from the state after the loan was previously denied by Treasurer Young Boozer. Specifically, this bill states the purpose of the distressed institution loan program, transfers program administration to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education from the State Treasurer, provides precise definitions for institutions eligible for loans, and establishes specific terms and conditions for those loans. This legislation will now go to the House for its review.   

Status of the Legislature  

The Legislature used three legislative working days this week, bringing its current total to 15 of its allotted 30 legislative working days  

As of March 8th, 315 bills were filed in the House, and 218 bills were filed in the Senate.   

The legislature will not meet next week but is expected to use two legislative working days the week of March 18th. The current calendar lists that the House and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, March 19th, with the House session beginning at 1:00 PM and the Senate session beginning at 2:00 PM.  

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