2024 Legislative Update: Regular Session - Week Four


In Vitro Fertilization

This week, both the House and Senate passed legislation addressing the concerns of in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics and patients after a recent judicial opinion stating that under Alabama law, frozen embryos are children. Senator Tim Melson and Representative Terri Collins sponsored the legislation in their respective chambers.

The legislation would provide 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. While the legislation passed in both the House and Senate, there was a serious debate on the best way to address this issue in both chambers, and some members raised the point that a long-term solution addressing the concerns of IVF clinics could require a constitutional amendment. The Governor is expected to have an IVF bill to sign on her desk next week.

Gaming Update

This week, there was a public hearing on the comprehensive gaming legislation, but there were no votes or movement on the legislation. It is speculated that there are currently not enough votes in the Senate to pass the gaming legislation, but this is subject to change, as mentioned in last week’s legislative update.

Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter has commended members of the House of Representatives for how the legislation was debated and passed in the House, and Senate Pro Temp Greg Reed has acknowledged that the Senate will continue to review the legislation. This legislation will likely move next week in the Senate, and numerous amendments are expected to be proposed.

School Choice

On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed the CHOOSE Act in a 69-34 vote after nearly four hours of debate. Representative Danny Garrett sponsored this bill. Governor Ivey has framed this bill as her “number-one legislative priority” for 2024.

As mentioned in previous legislative updates, this bill would provide education savings accounts (ESAs) for parents to use in providing education services for their children. This legislation will now go to the Senate for its consideration, and Senator Arthur Orr will carry the legislation.

Seafood Labeling Requirements

This week, the House passed a bill, sponsored by Representative Chip Brown, that requires certain food service establishments to inform consumers about the country of origin or importation status of seafood products available for purchase. Additionally, these establishments must distinguish between farmed-raised and wild-caught seafood products. This legislation will now go to the Senate for consideration, and Senator David Sessions will carry the legislation in the chamber.

Representative Brown stated, “The seafood industry is essential to the economy throughout Alabama’s Gulf Coast region, and with foreign caught products flooding the U.S. market, we must take every step to both support it and protect it . . .  by requiring disclosure of the country of origin for seafood, we can encourage the use of products caught in Alabama while ensuring that consumers are better informed about the food they consume.”

Energy Legislation

This week, legislation sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen related to energy sources passed the Senate. The legislation aims to prevent any governmental entity from restricting an individual or other entity’s ability to obtain or use an appliance solely based on the energy or energy source required for operation. This legislation will now go to the House for its consideration.

Sexual Material Filter

Legislation sponsored by Representative Ben Robbins relating to regulating pornographic websites passed the House of Representatives this week. Under this legislation, commercial distributors of sexual material would be required to implement an age-verification method for consumers. This legislation will now go to the Senate for its consideration.

Municipal Tax Exemptions

On Thursday, during the debate of a bill related to tax exemption for hearing aids, sponsored by Representative Margie Wilcox, Representative Danny Garrett and other members of the House Ways and Means Education committee reiterated their position that the legislature should not mandate municipalities to opt into tax exemptions as a general matter. Representative Garrett emphasized that these decisions should be made at the local level and that municipalities should have the option, but not be mandated to, opt into certain tax exemptions.

Status of the Legislature

The legislature used three legislative working days this week, bringing its current total to twelve of its allotted thirty legislative working days.

As of March 1st, 278 bills were filed in the House, and 187 bills were filed in the Senate.

The House and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, March 5th, with the House session beginning at 2:00 PM and the Senate session beginning at 4:00 PM. Next week, the legislature is expected to use three legislative working days.

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