Legislative Wrap-Up: Updated Sex Ed Language, DA’s Fight Medical Marijuana Bill

 1526551911 
1619734140

Alabama lawmakers during the 2021 legislative session.

Miranda Fulmore, WBHM

Sex education in Alabama is changing. This week, Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a measure that removes outdated language about homosexuality. Previously, state law required sex education to include language characterizing homosexuality as illegal and immoral. Advocacy groups argued that stigmatized LGBTQ students. Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal host Don Dailey gives us the weekly highlights starting with the new sex ed law.

 

Some groups hailed this new law as one that eliminates discriminatory language against homosexuality in sex ed. Tell us about this.  

This was a bill that was sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall of Huntsville, and it removes a passage in the sex education law that dates back to 1992. The passage says in general that homosexuality is not perceived as normal by the general public. And it also says that homosexual activity is considered criminal in Alabama. Rep. Hall wanted that struck from that part of the sex education law so that it wouldn’t be repeated to children.

 

About two dozen district attorneys across the state spoke out against a medical marijuana bill this week. They’ve made similar arguments to the ones voiced by opponents about it being a gateway drug and so on. Where is the bill now?  

Medical marijuana is ostensibly set for a vote on the House floor next week. The Senate sponsor of this legislation, Sen. Tim Melson of Florida, who is a physician, has told me that he has collected enough votes in the House to get this passed. This is as far as this legislation has ever gotten after three years.

 

The Alabama Senate approved a bill that allows wine delivery directly to state residents. Overall the legislature has been a lot more open to relaxing rules around the sale and consumption of alcohol. How does this one in particular work?

This one is called the direct wine shipment bill, or some people have actually referred to it as the mail order wine bill just to distinguish it from others because there’s been some confusion between this bill and the one that would allow for home delivery of beer, wine and spirits. This is, for instance, if you buy wine from a winery that’s out of town or out of state, and instead of bringing it with you, you want them to ship it directly to you at your home. This would allow for that. The other bill that it’s often confused with is the one that would allow for delivery of beer, wine and spirits from retailers to homes. The direct shipment of wine bill has been one that has been brought for several years, so it actually predates the pandemic; the home alcohol delivery bill many consider more of an outgrowth of the pandemic.

 

There are days remaining in the legislative session. What can we expect from here?

A lot of eyes will also be on the comprehensive gambling plan. House members were being sent home for the weekend with new information about this issue, and it is widely expected to make it to the House floor next week. They were reviewing things very carefully. I know that one lawmaker told me late this week that a law enforcement component was being looked at, being drafted by a member of the House who has a law enforcement background to sort of compliment the Gaming Commission aspect of this legislation. Whether or not they get it out before the end of next week is an open question. But there are a lot of lawmakers who say they’re going to try very hard to do so.

 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

More Front Page Coverage

UAB Closes Three COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Sites While Alabama’s Vaccination Rate Remains Below 50%

UAB announced this week it's closing the majority of its public COVID-19 vaccination sites because of a decline in participation. Meanwhile, Alabama remains at the bottom nationally for the number of adults that have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

‘When Buses Were A-Comin’: Remembering The Freedom Riders 60 Years On

A group of young civil rights activists began their journey to the South to challenge segregation on interstate buses in May 1961. The riders were taunted and beaten by white mobs – and jailed. Participants of the movement share what their fight means now.

Using Pastors And Pints, Gulf States Try To Boost COVID Vaccination Rates In White Communities

Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama have the lowest vaccination rates nationally, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Health officials are considering creative incentives to get the numbers up from church events to possible beer giveaways.

As Demand Drops, Health Officials Look For Ways To Encourage Vaccinations

Health officials say at first they were focused on vaccinating elderly and at-risk people in Alabama. Now the focus is shifting to people who are skeptical or apathetic about the vaccine.

Will The Gulf Coast Amtrak Line Ever Leave The Station?

Plans for a passenger line connecting New Orleans with Mobile are underway, but opposition from the freight train industry could derail the service – and possibly President Joe Biden’s vision for an Amtrak resurgence.

Starting Thursday, UAB To Offer Pfizer Vaccine To Adolescents

The Pfizer COVID-19 shot was found to be 100% effective in preventing disease among children aged 12 to 15 years old.

More Front Page Coverage