By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
It’s Friday, so you know that means: I’m going to get you high today.
Oops, no, wait, that’s Craig and Smokey.
I’m going to give you the weekly recap of what went down in Alabama’s Legislature.
After which, you’ll want to go get high.
So, roll ‘em up and prepare to puff, puff, give as we run through the mess that was Week 5.
Jesus Hates Sick Kids
It takes a special kind of greed and uncaring to stroll into a public hearing at the State House and openly advocate against providing health care to sick children. Luckily, Business Council of Alabama president Billy Canary is a special guy.
And then some.
Because not only was Canary able to push back against mandating insurance coverage for Autism care that’s currently available in 45 other states without once exposing his horns, he also managed to quote the Bible while doing it. Psalm 23, to be exact.
If you’re unfamiliar, I believe the text, at least in the King Business Version of the Good Book, goes something like … “The Lord is my Shepherd, and as such he believes I should personally be responsible for the medical care costs for myself and my sick children. Amen”
In a column posted on the BCA’s website, Canary goes farther, calling the mandate “Obamacare-style” and bemoaning the fact that insurance companies and employers who provide health insurance plans will this “government mandate” forced upon them and be forced to cover the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
And you know what? He’s right. They will have to cover their costs and it is Obamacare-style, because Obamacare does something that conservatives absolutely loathe: it ensures even poor people can get decent health care.
That’s what this mandate does. It makes sure those who can’t afford the high costs of this necessary care for their Autistic children can get it.
Conservatives love to trot out this well-worn line about doctors and patients making the decisions about their care without interference from the government. And Canary doesn’t let us down. He quotes Speaker of the House Paul Ryan using the line.
Well, I have great news. Doctors all over the country agree that this type of Autism care is necessary and should be covered. And Rep. Jim Patterson’s bill makes sure they get it.
So, get out of the way.
Apparently, word of Canary’s pitch against Autistic children by using the Bible made its way around to other conservative lobbyist groups on Wednesday morning, and became the new bar for awfulness.
The Alabama Eagle Forum was up to the challenge.
During a hearing on a bill – for the fourth consecutive session – that would allow doctors and others in the health care field to refuse care based on their “conscience,” including for religious reasons, a spokeswoman somehow managed to work in a quote from Gandhi.
That’s right, the man who was literally killed for promoting harmony among different faiths and spoke often of the ills of organized religion was quoted by a woman advocating for a bill that would deny a person health care because he doesn’t believe what the doctor does.
That bill passed the committee, of course.
It looks like the impeachment investigation of Gov. Robert Bentley, the one being conducted by the House Judiciary Committee, is back on. There was a massive amount of confusion at a meeting last Tuesday, after Special Attorney General Ellen Brooks sent a letter to the committee saying she was concerned that their work might raise double jeopardy concerns.
Lawmakers on the committee were more than a tad skeptical. And a number of interesting exchanges took place.
That included Rep. Allen Farley, famous for his recorded prayer with Bentley that he later released to the media, claiming employees of the governor had harassed committee members three times and Rep. Paul Beckman using the letter from Brooks to clearly show that there is an investigation of Bentley ongoing.
But what I don’t get is why no one is asking for an investigation into whether Bentley and now-Sen. Luther Strange engaged in a quid pro quo to award Strange the Senate. Sure would be interesting to see those emails and messages … you know, if you had the subpoena power to obtain them.
Bentley underwent a medical procedure Wednesday morning to correct an irregular heartbeat issue. The Viagra and younger women jokes wrote themselves and were mostly overused by lunch that day. But there’s probably something worth noting in the fact that the Governor of the state went into the hospital for a semi-emergency heart problem and most of the state responded with penis jokes.
Listening to lawmakers draw arbitrary lines on moral issues is always fun. And maddening. A fantasy sports gambling bill, sponsored by Paul Sandford, brought about the latest. Sen. Tim Melson actually said out loud that while he believed those Fanduel and DraftKings contests were gambling, they’re “harmless.” So, that’s how we’re going to do it now? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the games, but I’d love to get the definitions of harmless and harmful gambling.
Finally, a shameless plea: I will openly advocate for any lawmaker who introduces a bill that keeps daylight savings time. We’re going to push our clocks up an hour on Saturday night – for what purpose, no one is sure anymore. And half the working world will be an hour late for the next week and a half. Please, I’m begging one of you, stop this madness. Let’s just stick with this time, because really, who’s excited about it getting dark 4:30 in the afternoon in December?