Payday Lending, Transgender Athlete Bills Go Nowhere in Alabama Legislature

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Miranda Fulmore, WBHM

It may be Valentines Day, but Alabama lawmakers didn’t offer much love this week as several bills had difficulty advancing. We have an overview of this week’s action in the legislature from Don Dailey, host of Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal.

Payday Lending

A Senate Committee voted down a bill that would have made it easier for borrowers to repay payday loans. It would have given borrowers 30 days to repay. In some cases they can have as little as 10 days.

Payday lending has been a perennial issue in recent years, but Dailey notes the opposition to the bill was bipartisan.

“There just doesn’t seem to be agreement on this issue still,” Dailey says.

Transgender Athletes

A bill that would require transgender high school athletes to compete based on their biological sex at birth died in a House committee.

“It was contentious as you might imagine,” Dailey says.

Republican Rep. Chris Pringle of Mobile sponsored the bill and says it’s about fairness to female athletes. He says they shouldn’t have to compete against those who are biologically male, with more testosterone and thus greater strength. Opponents say the bill discriminates against transgender people.

Even though this bill won’t move forward, Dailey says the issue may reappear.

“Rep. Pringle has a similar, separate bill. There are a few technical differences. So this issue may not be totally dead for the session,” Dailey says.

Police Officers and Hate Crime Law

A proposal to add law enforcement officers to the state’s hate crime law took diverging paths in the House and Senate. This comes as seven Alabama police officers have been killed in the line of duty in the last 13 months.

The House passed the bill without opposition. But a Senate version stalled in committee.

“Given that the Senate committee carried this over, it brings some questions as to what the ultimate future of this bill will be,” Dailey says.

Medical Marijuana

A bill that would legalize medical marijuana was introduced this week. It would allow medical marijuana for 15 conditions. It would also set up a commission to regulate its use in Alabama.

Dailey says the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Tim Melson of Florence, is preparing for opposition.

“He expects to have another battle on his hands,” Dailey says. “It’s a very contentious issue as it has been for a number of years.”

Melson sponsored a medical marijuana bill last session that passed the Senate but fell short in the house. A study group met last year to make recommendations for this current version of the bill.

“They feel like they’ve addressed most if not all of the concerns that were raised last year, especially those issues about it possibly being a gateway to increasing recreational use of marijuana,” Dailey says.

The bill id expected to get its first committee hearing next week.

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