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Week three 2019 regular session legislative report

Beth Lyons

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Contributed by the Lyons Law Firm. View the full report here.

The Alabama Legislature resumed its annual Regular Session on Tuesday, April 2 for Day 5. Twenty-seven committee meetings were held throughout the week to consider legislation. Both Houses met on Wednesday, April 3 for Day 6 and Thursday, April 4 for Day 7.

In total, 611 bills have been introduced to date.

The Legislature will return to Montgomery on Tuesday, April 9 for Day 8 of the Session with the House convening at 1 p.m. and the Senate at 3 p.m.

DURING THE WEEK:

Rep. Dimitri Polizos of Montgomery (District 74) passed away the week of the break following a heart attack. His family was honored on the House floor and presented with a Resolution honoring his life and contribution to public service in the state. Governor Kay Ivey has scheduled a special election to fill the vacant seat. The primary will be held on June 11 with a run-off, if necessary, scheduled for August 27. If no run-off is necessary, the general election will be held on August 27. If a run-off is necessary the general election will be held on November 12.

The U. S. Department of Justice released its 56 page report following a two and a half year investigation into Alabama’s prisons. The Department concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that conditions in Alabama prisons violate the Constitution. Governor Ivey released the following statement in response, “We appreciate the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to ensure open lines of communication with the State of Alabama. DOJ has identified many of the same areas of concern that we have discussed publicly for some time. Over the coming months, my Administration will be working closely with DOJ to ensure that our mutual concerns are addressed and that we remain steadfast in our commitment to public safety, making certain that this Alabama problem has an Alabama solution.”

SIGNIFICANT INTRODUCTIONS THIS WEEK:

A bill was introduced in both Houses that would make an abortion procedure a felony for a physician unless the abortion is necessary to prevent serious health risks to the mother [HB314 by Rep. Terri Collins and SB211 by Sen. Greg Albritton].

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A bill was introduced in both houses that would amend the Simplified Sellers Use Tax by modifying the definition of eligible seller, clarifying transactions from which simplified sellers us tax cannot be remitted, and adjusting the use tax rate [HB318 by Rep. Rod Scott and SB218 by Sen. Greg Albritton].

A bill was introduced in both Houses that would prohibit a local governing body from banning the use of plastic grocery bags [HB346 by Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter and SB244 by Sen. Steve Livingston].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require dispensing veterinarians to notify pet owners of the option to purchase veterinary drugs from a pharmacy rather than the veterinarian’s office. The bill is pending in the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee [HB293 by Rep. Margie Wilcox].

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A bill was introduced in the House that would allow a licensed wine manufacturer to obtain a wine direct shipper permit to ship directly to residents for personal use. The bill is pending in the House Commerce and Small Business Committee [HB350 by Rep. Terri Collins].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require the owner of a vessel to obtain a certificate of title on the vessel. The bill is pending in the House State Government Committee [HB303 by Rep. Connie Rowe].

Two bills were introduced in the House that would permit wagering on the results of certain professional or collegiate sports or athletic events. The bills are pending in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee [HB315 and HB358 by Rep. John Rogers].

A bill was introduced in the House that would allow the carrying or possession of a firearm on certain property or in a motor vehicle without a concealed pistol permit. The bill is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [HB336 by Rep. Andrew Sorrell].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require fire departments provide supplemental insurance coverage to pay the claims of a career firefighter who has served 12 consecutive months and has been diagnosed with cancer under certain conditions. The bill is pending in the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee [HB360 by Rep. Phillip Pettus].

A bill was introduced in the House that would provide for the registration of certain fantasy sports operators, require the implementation of procedures for consumer protection, and exempt fantasy sports contests from the state prohibition against gambling. The bill is pending in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee [HB361 by Rep. Kyle South].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require the Strengthen Alabama Homes Program to maintain as confidential all documents and information submitted in support of grant applications. The bill is pending in the House Insurance Committee [HB363 by Rep. Chip Brown].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would revise the State Minimum Salary Schedule for education employees to reflect a 4% pay increase beginning October 1, 2019. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee [SB192 by Sen. Arthur Orr].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would require a county or municipality to include a schedule of all of the debt obligations of the county or municipality with the bond financing agreement documents. The bill is pending in the Senate Governmental Affair Committee [SB202 by Sen. Arthur Orr].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would provide for the procedure for depositing of material from the dredging of the inlets of the state. The bill is pending in the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee [SB215 by Sen. David Sessions].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment was introduced in the Senate that would establish a lottery, provide for the sale of paper lottery tickets including instant tickets and multi-state lottery games, and provide for the distribution of proceeds, first to repayment to the Alabama Trust Fund for transfers made to the General Fund, then one-half to the Alabama Trust Fund and one-half to the General Fund. The bill is pending in the Senate Tourism Committee [SB220 by Sen. Greg Albritton].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would require the Department of Agriculture and Industries to develop a plan for monitoring and regulating the production of hemp. The bill is pending in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee [SB225 by Sen. Tim Melson].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would move from the ethics code to the criminal code certain provisions relating to the ethics law and revise certain provision regarding public officials. The bill is pending in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee [SB230 by Sen. Greg Albritton].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would allow certain licensed small farm wineries to sell directly to consumers. The bill is pending in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee [SB234 by Sen. Tom Whatley].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would allow the use of medical marijuana if a person has a qualifying condition and a valid medical cannabis card. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee [SB236 by Sen. Tim Melson].

SIGNIFICANT COMMITTEE ACTION THIS WEEK:

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to the
2.1 billion General Fund Budget which includes a $40 million increase to the Department of Corrections, a $5.7 million increase to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, a $52 million decrease to Medicaid, which will be offset by federal funds, and an $8 million increase to the Department of Mental Health. The bill now goes to the full House [HB152 by Rep. Steve Clouse].

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would provide for a cost-of-living increase for state employees beginning Oct. 1, 2019. The bill now goes to the full House [HB166 by Rep. Dimitri Polizos].

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would require all business license and permit applicants who employ five or more persons to prove enrollment in E-Verify prior to the issuance of a business license or permit by a municipality or county. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB71 by Sen. Arthur Orr].

The Senate Tourism Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on three lottery bills [SB116 and SB130 by Sen. Jim McClendon, and SB220 by Sen. Greg Albritton].

The House Insurance Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would require insurance companies writing homeowners insurance policies to offer an endorsement that upgrades a home to a fortified standard adopted when the insured incurs roof damage covered by the policy that will require a roof to be replaced. The bill now goes to the full House [HB283 by Rep. Chip Brown].

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow the state and its political subdivisions to utilize waiver valuations, in lieu of an appraisal, to determine the value of real property for the right-of-way acquisitions. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB139 by Sen. Billy Beasley].

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee and the House State Government Committee gave favorable reports to companion bills that would provide that a local employer participating in the Employees’ Retirement System could elect to provide the same retirement benefits given to Tier I plan members to its Tier II plan members [SB147 by Sen. Jabo Waggoner and HB61 by Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter].

The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would provide that Alabama would observe Daylight Saving Time year-round if Congress amends the existing federal prohibition. The bill now goes to the full House [HB172 by Rep. April Weaver].

The Senate Tourism Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would exclude certain rentals that are not for overnight accommodations from the lodging tax. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB171 by Sen. Garlan Gudger].

The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would exclude places or spaces for tent camping or marine slips, or in parks for recreational vehicles from the state transient occupancy tax or lodging tax [SB19 by Sen. Gerald Allen].

SIGNIFICANT FLOOR ACTION THIS WEEK:

The House passed a bill that would provide circumstances under which an individual acting as an economic development professional is not considered a lobbyist. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB289 by Rep. Alan Baker].

The House passed a bill that would authorize the Town of Dauphin Island to establish up to three entertainment districts within its corporate limits if certain qualifications are met. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB224 by Rep. Chip Brown].

The House substituted, amended and passed a bill that would require retailers of alternative nicotine products, to obtain a tobacco license, prohibit certain advertisements, prohibit the sale to minors, and require the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to regulate retail sales of alternative nicotine devices as with sales of tobacco products. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB41 by Rep. Shane Stringer].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would allow public schools to offer elective courses focusing on the study of the Bible in grades 6 to 12 and allow for the display of artifacts, monuments, symbols, and texts related to the study of the Bible. The bill now goes to the House [SB14 by Sen. Tim Melson].

The Senate carried over a bill that would establish procedures and conditions for asset forfeitures. The bill now goes to the House [SB191 by Sen. Arthur Orr].

The Senate carried over a bill that would require the owner of a vessel to obtain a certificate of title on the vessel [SB152 by Sen. Billy Beasley].

The House amended and passed a bill that would authorize the county commission of a wet county to permit and regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB168 by Rep. Reed Ingram].

The House passed a bill that would allow a county housing authority to have the option of electronic posting of the notice to potential purchasers of bonds, eliminate the requirement for bids to be advertised for three weeks and publicly let to the lowest responsible bidder, and exclude municipal, county and regional housing authorities from the requirement of obtaining prior written consent of the Department of Finance to issue and sell bonds. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB63 by Rep. Steve McMillan].

The House passed a bill that would allow the state and its political subdivisions to utilize waiver valuations, in lieu of an appraisal, to determine the value of real property for the purposes of righ-of-way acquisitions. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB98 by Rep. Corley Ellis].

The House carried over a bill that would provide for the governor to fill vacancies in the U. S. Senate until the next general election [HB23 by Rep. Steve Clouse].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would criminalize the act of recording or attempting to record any image or video of private, intimate body parts of another person without that person’s consent. The bill now goes to the House [SB26 by Sen.Clyde Chambliss].

The Senate passed a bill that would authorize the taking of whitetail dear or feral swine by means of bait when a person purchases a baiting privilege license from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The bill now goes to the House [SB66 by Sen. Jack Williams].

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

A joint Senate and House resolution congratulating the band Alabama on their 50th Anniversary passed the Senate and is pending in the House Rules Committee [SJR26 by Sen. Steve Livingston].

A joint Senate and House resolution to make Autauga County Artesian Water the Official State Water passed the Senate and is pending in the House Rules Committee [SJR17 by Sen. Clyde Chambliss].

BUDGETS:

  • Education Trust Fund — HB141 by Rep. Poole in the House. Pending in House Ways and Means committee.
  • Education Trust Fund — SB199 by Sen. orr in the Senate. Pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee.
  • General Fund Budget — HB152 by Rep. Clouse in the House. Substituted and reported favorable from the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.
  • General Fund Budget — SB85 by Sen. Albritton in the Senate. Pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee.

SUMMARY STATISTICS:

  • Bills introduced: 611
  • Bills that have passed house of origin: 97
  • Bills that have passed both houses: 1
  • Bills that are pending governor’s signature: 1
  • Bills that have been vetoed: 0
  • Constitutional Amendment bills pending referendum: 0
  • Bills enacted: 0

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Elections

Mark Gidley announces run for Rep. Becky Nordgren’s House seat

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama State House at 11 South Union Street in Montgomery. (APR)

Republican voters in Etowah County went to the polls and elected State Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, as their nominee for revenue commissioner, defeating Jeff Overstreet in the Republican primary runoff.

No Democrat qualified for the seat, so Nordgren will likely be the commissioner once the current commissioner’s term runs out. At that time, the governor will call a special election to fill Nordgren’s soon-to-be vacant House seat.

Mark Gidley has announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for State House District 29.

“I have a strong desire to continue to promote pro-life, pro-family, and strong conservative values in Montgomery as the Representative for the people of District 29,” Gidley said. “I have been a member of the pro-life community for many years, serving as a board member for the Etowah County Pregnancy Center, and I will fight in Montgomery to continue to make Alabama a Pro-Life State. I believe in family values, and the traditional family created in the image of God. I will fight for these values as a Representative in the Alabama House”.

Mark Gidley is a lifelong resident of Etowah County and is heavily involved in his community. Gidley is the pastor of the Faith Worship Center Church of God in Glencoe.

Gidley says that it is his desire to serve this community and the area of District 29 with bold and conservative leadership.

Mark is married to the former Kathy Chapman of Hokes Bluff. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. Mark is a member of the Executive Committee of the Etowah County Republican Party.

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State Rep. Ron Johnson, longest-serving House member, has died

Brandon Moseley

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State Rep. Ronald “Ron” Johnson, R-Sylacauga, died Tuesday of complications from liver cancer. He was 76.

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of Rep. Johnson this evening, following his recent cancer diagnosis,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. “Ron and I have served together for many years. He was a real champion for the communities in Talladega, Coosa, and Clay. He was engaged with the needs of his constituents, and never turned them away. He has offered much of his life to serving the people of Alabama, and I know his colleagues in the House, friends in the Senate and I will miss working with him. I pray that his loved ones feel peace knowing he is no longer suffering and is finally at rest.”

Johnson, at the time of his death, was the longest-serving continuous member of the House of Representatives. Johnson’s District 33 seat includes portions of Clay, Coosa and Talladega counties. He was first elected as a Democrat in 1978. He switched to the Republican Party in 1998.

“Ron Johnson was one of the most respected members of the Alabama House, and he served with distinction since 1978,” said Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia. “In my years as a member and speaker, I valued Ron not only for his institutional knowledge that helped guide me but also for his friendship. He made sure the voices of the people of his district were always heard. My wife Debbie and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family.”

“Losing any member of the House is difficult, but losing the body’s longest-serving member magnifies the loss even more,” McCutcheon said. “Rep. Johnson was someone I could always turn to for advice and wise counsel both before and after I become Speaker of the House, and I will miss the support he provided. We will pray for comfort and solace for his family and all who loved him.”

“Because of his 42 years of service, State Rep. Ron Johnson was considered an institution both within the Alabama House of Representatives and the House Republican Caucus, and his loss will be felt,” said House Majority Leader Nathanial Ledbetter, R-Rainsville. “Rep. Johnson’s experience, institutional knowledge, and decades of service made his a voice that commanded the respect and attention of his colleagues. On behalf of the Alabama House Republican Caucus, our prayers of comfort go out to his family, his friends, and the constituents that he served so ably for so long.”

“Cindy and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend and my former colleague State Representative Ron Johnson,” said Secretary of State John H Merrill. “Representative Johnson has selflessly served our great state for 42 years, and I am incredibly grateful for his friendship, leadership, and guidance during the many years I have been fortunate enough to know him.”

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“He leaves behind a legacy that will set an example for future legislators to follow for decades to come,” Merrill added. “His courageous attitude and eagerness to lend a helping hand to any in need will be deeply missed. His family is in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Johnson served on the agenda setting House Rules Committee. He was vice chair of both the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee, and the House Health Committee.

Johnson was a pharmacist. He had bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology from Florida State University and a pharmacy degree from Auburn University.

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He is survived by his wife Susan and his daughter Stephanie Lee.

State law requires Gov. Kay Ivey to call a special election to fill the vacancy.

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Legislature told budgets are in good shape despite pandemic and economic downturn

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Members of the Alabama Senate were in Montgomery Thursday for hearings on the budget, where Senators were told that both of the budgets are in good shape looking forward to 2021.

The meeting was chaired by Senate Finance & Taxation Committee Chairman Greg Albritton.

Kirk Fulford is the Deputy Director for the Fiscal Division of the Legislative Services Agency.

“I don’t know a better time to do this than in the middle of the biggest health emergency we have ever see and a recession,” Fulford said of the Senate decision to hold a budget hearing in July while the legislature is not in session. “I hope you hold more of these between now and the start of the next legislative session.”

“Both budgets you passed are in good shape looking forward to 2021,” Fulford said predicting that both the State General Fund (SGF) and education trust fund (ETF) would be able to avoid proration even if the economic downturn is protracted and state revenues experience no growth at all in fiscal year 2021, which starts October 1.

The state of Alabama uses a very arcane budgeting system where over 93 percent of revenues are earmarked and all the money goes into two budgets set by the Legislature (the ETF and SGF). There are also $billion of dollars in revenues to state agencies not included in the budgeting process. The state also collects another roughly $7.5 billion in federal dollars in a typical year, most of it in matching funds.

Despite the economic crash that occurred in March due to the forced economic shutdown and the lingering economic costs to fight the spread of the coronavirus, Fulford said that he expected that both budgets will finish 2020 with growth. Much of that was due to the robust economy the state experienced from Oct. 1 to Feb. 28 before the coronavirus crisis and Fulford broke the state’s fiscal performance down for both budgets into separate income statements for the Oct. 1 to Feb. 29 period and the Mar. 1 to June 30 period.

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The SGF, which funds non-education state agencies, budget was $2,151,954,704.

“Things were growing great through February,” Fulford said.

Since then the state’s lodging tax receipts have experienced a decrease of $7,4 million and oil and gas revenues are down $4.4 million; however the new Simplified Sellers USE Tax grew by $51 million thru June. More people are buying more of their stuff online and SSUT allows the state to collect much more taxes on those online sales.

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“The General Fund’s strength is built on several changes that have been made by the legislature,” Fulford said. “The state has not prorated the general fund budget since 2012.”

Fulford predicted that the state will not need to prorate the general fund, “Even if there is a recurrent COVID situation and even if there is another shutdown.”

Fulford praised the legislators for moving that growth revenue to the general fund. Prior to the redistribution of use taxes from the ETF to the SGF, use taxes brought in less than $one million to the general fund. The Simplified Sellers Use Tax and the Supreme Court ruling in Wayfair vs South Dakota changed all of that. In FY2019 the SSUT brought in $70 million. Fulford anticipates that it will bring in $125 million in FY2020 is complete.

In addition to the SSUT Fulford credited legislators for their conservative budgeting and for in 2012 the legislature changed how the Alabama Trust Fund pays out its oil and gas trust fund moneys from a market fluctuating model to a fixed payment model. The Alabama Trust Fund will pay $104 million for the SGF in the current year and $116 million for the next year.

Fulford predicted that the SGF will have 2021 receipts of $2.406,000 receipts with $46 million in growth in FY2021. Fulford said that the FY2021 SGF budget passed by the legislature is $170 million more than the FY2020, but $170 million less than the Governor had predicted in February. “It is still the highest general fund in state history.”

Fulford next broke down the ETF, the education budget.

“We were anticipating above average growth rate in 2020,” Fulford said.

The 2020 ETF budget estimated receipts of $7,582,260.

Fulford said that thru February the ETF receipts were up 8.04 percent primarily due to increase in income and sales tax revenues. From March 1 to June 30 revenues have declined by 17.83 percent versus the same period in 2019. ETF revenues in that period have declined by $405,862,551.

Fulford said that part of that is due to moving the payment dates back, both the income tax deadline of April 15 to July and the quarterly estimated payments.

“We will know more by the end of the month,” Fulford predicted, “We anticipate that a lot of that money will come in in July. We will know by the end of the month what those numbers look like.”

Despite the economic collapse total ETF growth for 2020 is 1.09 percent. Net receipts are $5,473,075 by the end of June. $58,980,858 in growth due to the large annual growth before the COVID-19 impact of $224.5 million.

Fulford said that a provision in the Rolling Reserve Act allowed the state Finance Director to transfer $301.6 million from the budget Stabilization Fund to alleviate cash flow problems in the ETF. The state may not need that money anymore by the end of July, depending on July receipts.

Citing the Rolling Reserve Act and the conservative budget passed by the legislature, Fulford predicted that the state an cover ETF next year even at zero growth in revenue.

State Finance Director Kelly Butler explained to the Senators how the CARES Act was being appropriated to the state. The estimated total allocation to Alabama was $4.100,738,000 for COVID-19 expenses. $1.9 billion was appropriated to the state to spend. $115 million had to go to Jefferson County leaving state government with $1.789 billion to appropriate. Butler explained that the money is very limited in what it can be spent on and the state has had to have guidance from federal officials on their latest interpretations of the CARES Act rules.

Fulford explained that the Payroll Protection Program has greatly benefitted state finances.

Alabama businesses received 7,878 loans thru the closing of the PPP program deadline on June 30.

“408,803 jobs were retained because of the loan program,” Fulford said. “The situation with our economy would be vastly different if that program had not been established.”

State Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) said that a record over 2000 people tested positive for coronavirus just today. If everyone follows the health protocols, that person and everyone in that household have to self quarantine for 14 days if they don’t have it and if they do get COVID-19 or have to care for someone with COVID-19 they could be out from work for over a month.

Fulford acknowledged that there was a “Trickle down effect to everyone in that household,” and that “Has an impact going forward and one that you have to pay attention to.”

“I am concerned about the long lasting effects of this virus,” Butler said. “We are going to have to learn to live with this virus until it is cured, an effective therapy is developed or a vaccine.”

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Alabama lawmaker pre-files legislation to allow removal of Confederate monuments

If passed, the measure would permit counties and cities to relocate historic monuments currently located on public property.

Brandon Moseley

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A Confederate monument in Birmingham's Linn Park was removed. As have monuments and memorials in Mobile and on the campus of the University of Alabama.

Alabama State Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, introduced legislation this week in advance of the 2021 legislative session that, if passed, would permit counties and cities to relocate historic monuments currently located on public property. Givan’s bill, HB8, would also provide for the relocation of historic memorials to sites appropriate for public display.

“Across the state of Alabama, citizens are calling for the removal of prominently placed statues and monuments that are insensitive or offensive to the communities that surround them,” Givan said. “City and county governments must be able to address the demands of their citizens. This legislation provides a tool for local governments to safely remove these artifacts so that they can be moved to a site more appropriate for preserving or displaying the historical monument.”

Removing the monuments and historical markers is currently illegal under Alabama’s Memorial Preservation Act, which the state Legislature passed in 2017. Givan has been an outspoken opponent of that Republican-sponsored legislation. In 2018, Givan introduced a measure to repeal the bill that barred the removal of monuments.

“I believe HB8 can achieve bipartisan support,” Givan said. “My bill seeks to balance the wishes of the people. It respects the will of communities that want the monuments removed. It also respects those who wish to preserve history. With this legislation, Confederate monuments could be relocated to a public site, like Confederate Memorial Park, whose purpose and mission is to interpret and tell these stories. When the Legislature convenes, I hope to have the support of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.”

If enacted, HB8 would permit county and municipal governments to remove memorial monuments, including permanent statues, portraits and markers, located on public property in their jurisdictions. It would require a transfer of ownership of the removed monuments to the Alabama Department of Archives and History or the Alabama Historical Commission. Finally, the bill would instruct Archives and History or the Historical Commission to maintain and display monuments removed by local authorities in a location accessible for public display.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps track of Confederate monuments and memorials across the country, released an update to its Whose Heritage report, which tracks symbols of the Confederacy on public land across the United States. They report at least 30 Confederate symbols have been removed or relocated since George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.

These include 24 monuments removed, 5 monuments relocated and the Mississippi state flag replaced. Since the Charleston church shooting in 2015, 115 total symbols have been removed from public spaces. These include 87 monuments that have been removed or relocated from public spaces. At least 78 monuments were removed and nine were relocated.

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SPLC says there are still nearly 1,800 Confederate symbols on public land, and 739 of those symbols are monuments. The SPLC has prepared an “action guide” to help community activists target Confederate historical markers and memorials for removal.

President Donald Trump has denounced what he calls “cancel culture” that seeks to remove historical monuments and statutes.

“There is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure,” Trump said. “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”

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