2024 Alabama Legislative Update: Regular Session - Week Three


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
On Thursday, the Senate passed a billsponsored by Senator Will Barfoot that places restrictions on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs in the state. The bill passed the Senate along partisan lines after a day-long debate. This legislation would prevent state agencies, public schools, and colleges from allocating funds to DEI offices or sponsoring DEI programs. Democrats opposed the bill and added multiple amendments to address some significant concerns. Despite adding these amendments, Minority Leader Bobby Singleton remains skeptical of the legislation. This bill will now go to the House for its consideration.  

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
This week, legislators began to attempt to address the concerns of in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics and patients after a recent judicial opinion stating that under Alabama law, frozen embryos are children. This could potentially expose IVF providers and patients to wrongful death suits under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. Republican Senator Tim Melson, Chairman of the Senate Healthcare Committee, plans to file a bill that would clarify that an embryo is not considered viable until it has been implanted in a uterus. This clarification would seek to ease the concerns of those facing liability. Senator Melson stated, “[w]e all know that conception is a big argument that it’s life.... I won’t argue that point, but it’s not going to form into a life until it’s put into the uterus.”  

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels has also filed legislation attempting to address these concerns. His legislation states that any fertilized human egg or human embryo that exists outside of a human uterus is not considered an unborn child or human being for any purpose under state law.  

The comprehensive gaminglegislation that passed in the House last week did not see any movement in the Senate this week. In order to pass the Senate, two-thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of the legislation. Republicans hold a supermajority in the Senate, holding 27 of the 35 seats in the chamber. There is speculation that there are currently not enough “yes” votes to pass this legislation in the Senate, but this could change instantly, and this legislation is something to keep a close eye on as the session progresses. 

Genetic Testing
Thelegislation discussed in last week’s legislative update on genetic information transfers passed the House of Representatives this week and has been sent to the Senate for consideration. This legislation, sponsored by Representative Chip Brown, proposes requiring genetic testing companies to obtain consent from consumers before they can retain, use, or share their genetic information with third parties.  

Senator Arthur Orr filed separate legislation related to the transfer of genetic information but opted not to move forward with his piece of legislation at this time. The legislation sponsored by Representative Brown will now go to the Senate for consideration.  

Cash Requirement 
Legislationregarding cash requirements for retailers was filed by Representative Prince Chestnut this week. This legislation prohibits retailers from requiring customers to use credit to buy goods or services. Additionally, businesses unable to provide change due to a shortage would be required to offer store credit equivalent to the amount of the unavailable change. This legislation is pending committee action in the House.  

Artificial intelligence (AI)
On Thursday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed theAlabama Child Protection Act of 2024, sponsored by Representative Matt Woods. This legislation expands the state’s law against child pornography by extending its scope to include images generated by artificial intelligence. This legislation will now go to the Senate for its consideration. 

Legislation sponsored by Representative Parker Moore related to AI-created “deepfakes” also passed the House this week. This legislation would make it unlawful to create a recording that a reasonable person would believe depicts an individual, regardless of whether any portion of the recording actually depicts another individual or is artificially generated. This legislation will now go to the Senate for its consideration. 

Female Hygiene Tax Cut 
On Tuesday, discussions took place on the Senate floor regarding Senator Arthur Orr’s proposed legislation to remove sales and use taxes on certain baby products, including baby formula, diapers, wipes, and bottles. This bill would also eliminate sales and use taxes on feminine hygiene products, including menstrual hygiene products, maternity clothing, and breast milk pumping equipment. The provisions of this bill would be expected to reduce the Education Trust Fund fiscal year appropriation cap for fiscal year 2025 by $8.7 million. Senator Orr said his bill would be a “low-cost” way to support Alabama families with children. While this legislation did not receive a vote this week, it will likely be voted on by the Senate in the near future. 

Rare Disease Screening
This week, the House passed legislation, sponsored by Representative Phillip Rigsby, which expands Alabama’s newborn screening process to include more rare diseases. This legislation would add four rare diseases, MPS 1, Pompe disease, MPS II, and GAMT, to Alabama’s screening process and any future diseases that become part of the U.S. Department of Human Services Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. The law is named after Zachary Thomas, a 14-year-old from Foley, Alabama, who was born with MPS 1. This bill has now been sent to the Senate for consideration. 

Gender Definition Public Hearings
This week, public hearings were held onlegislation sponsored by Senator April Weaver and Representative Susan DuBose that would add definitions for terms such as “man,” “woman,” “boy,” “girl,” “father,” “mother,” “male,” “female,” and “sex” to the state code. The bill’s sponsors argue that this legislation is simply bringing definitional clarification to the state code, while the opponents argue that this legislation is unnecessary and targets specific communities. This legislation has received a favorable report from the Senate County and Municipal Government Committee and is pending committee action in the House Judiciary Committee. 

Status of the Legislature 
The Legislature used three legislative working days this week, bringing its current total to nine of its allotted thirty legislative working days

As of February 23rd, 227 bills were filed in the House, and 154 bills were filed in the Senate

The House and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, February 27th, with the House session beginning at 1:00 PM and the Senate session beginning at 2:00 PM. Next week, the legislature is expected to use three legislative working days. 

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