By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, February 23, 2017. When does a child become an adult? That question can be answered in a lot of different ways but legally in Alabama (even though you can vote at 18) the legal answer to that since 1976 in Alabama has been 19. On Thursday, the Alabama House of Representatives voted to lower that to age 18.
House Bill 70 was sponsored by state Representative Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa). Poole said that currently there are only four states that don’t use 18 for the age of majority. It is 19 in Alabama and Nebraska and 21 in Mississippi and Puerto Rico.
Poole said that his bill does not change the age for alcohol and tobacco.
Representative Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) spoke in favor of the bill. Currently an 18 year old can not buy a vehicle, rent an apartment, or sign a contract until they turn 19. We need to get this piece of legislation passed.
Representative Merika Coleman (D-Midfield) praised Rep. Poole for his work with the Lobby board from the University of Alabama on this legislation. “What an amazing process.”
“Such an example of what young people can accomplish.”
Rep. Poole said that his bill will not affect child support.
Representative Becky Nordgren (R-Gadsden) said tearfully, “I have a big problem with changing the age of majority in our state.” “Our children need to stay our children and parents have no recourse.” “There are many situations where an 18 daughter needs to be under the care of her parents.”
Rep. Poole said that when an 18 year old finishes high school college and career ready we expect that 18 year old to go to work. Currently they can’t fill prescription drugs, sign an apartment lease, buy a car. What happens is that in the scenario of an apartment lease a parent has to cosign now the parent’s credit is at risk creating problems for both the 18 year old and their parents.
Rep. Kerry Rich (R-Guntersville) said, “I am going to vote for the bill. I was here in 1976 when it was lowered to 19 (from 21). At the time I was one of the big proponents of the bill. I am not for folks under 21 buying alcohol or tobacco. What I would eally like see is that we raise the legal age on everything to 21. Really I would like to see the age raised to 21 on everything
Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) said that when he turned 18, “I had to wait an extra year to join the Marine Corps.” I was on my own scrimping to survive. For those on their own and they don’t have families the option to go in the military is very important
Representative Artis “A.J.” McCampbell said, “I am still trying to square this bill. Why not lower everything to 18?”
Rep. Poole said, “Because 18 year old needs to be able to open a banking account he does not need to drink in order to succeed.
Rep. Tim Wadsworth said on social media, “HB 70 Bill to change to age of majority to age 18 from 19. Bill will have no impact on custody, child support, alcohol or tobacco products.”
Rep. John Knight (R-Montgomery) said, “I wish this was broader where age 18 really was majority.”
The legislature passed 83 to 13.
HB70 now goes on to the Senate of its consideration.