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Governor to host ceremonial bill signing for medical marijuana bill, other legislation

Gov. Kay Ivey will host a ceremonial bill signing event in Montgomery for a number of bills passed during the 2021 Legislative Session.

Gov. Kay Ivey signs legislation. (HAL YEAGER/GOVERNOR'S OFFICE)

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday will host a ceremonial bill signing ceremony for Senate Bill 46, which legalizes medical marijuana, as well as 13 other pieces of legislation passed during the 2021 Legislative Session.

Senate Bill 46 is sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, and Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison. The Darren Wesley “Ato” Hall Compassion Act is named in honor of Democratic state Rep. Laura Hall’s son who died from AIDS. The bill creates a commission to license and regulate an Alabama-grown medical cannabis industry.

People with a qualifying medical condition who have tried other more conventional treatments for their condition will be given the option of going to specially trained and licensed doctors who may write a recommendation for the patient to get Alabama-grown and -processed cannabis from a licensed Alabama dispensary.

Marijuana in its raw plant form and smokable products would remain a controlled substance in Alabama and remain banned. There will be very tight controls on the legal medical marijuana from seed to harvest to processing to the eventual end-user.

Melson estimated that approximately 240,000 Alabamians will benefit.

Other bills in today’s bill signing ceremony include:

  • Senate Bill 231, sponsored by Sen. Will Barfoot, R-Pike Road, and Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville. SB231 provides a state tax deduction for account contributions to the State Treasurer’s ABLE Program and benefits individuals with disabilities.
  • House Bill 437 is sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, and Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro. HB 437 is the wine shipment bill, which authorizes winemakers to ship up to 12 cases a year directly to Alabama residents beginning on August 1, 2021.
  • House Bill 539 was sponsored by House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, and carried in the Senate by Sens. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville, and Singleton. HB539 revises the limit of how much beer or liquor can be sold by breweries and distilleries. It goes into effect on August 1, 2021.
  • Senate Bill 181 is sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, and Rep. Chris Blackshear, R-Phenix City. Senate Bill 181 gives financial institutions the flexibility to refuse or delay certain financial transactions on the accounts of elderly or vulnerable adults when financial exploitation may have occurred or is suspected.
  • Senate Bill 327 was sponsored by Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R-Dothan, and Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton. SB327 establishes the TEAMS (Teacher Excellence and Accountability for Mathematics and Science) Act, which creates a new salary schedule program and provides additional compensation to math and science teachers in hard to staff areas of the state.
  • House Bill 93 is sponsored by Rep. Baker and Sen. Chesteen. HB93 would modify the retirement benefits for Tier II TRS members by providing 30-year service retirement and allows the conversion of sick leave into creditable service. This bill would also increase the member contribution rate from 6 percent to 6.75 percent.
  • Senate Bill 61 is sponsored by Sen. Chesteen and Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R-Auburn. SB61 establishes the Education Retirees Trust Fund in the State Treasury to fund periodic bonuses for education retirees.
  • Senate Bill 227 is sponsored by Sen. Tom Butler, R-Madison, and House Majority Lader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville. SB227 is the Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) bill that prohibits a pharmacy benefits manager from limiting or incentivizing a patient’s choice in pharmacies.
  • House Bill 76, The Seizure Safe Schools Act, is sponsored by Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, and Sen. Butler. HB76 allows a student and parent to submit a seizure treatment plan to the local board of education and authorizes trained volunteers at schools to give emergency medication to a child having a seizure.
  • House Bill 249 is sponsored by Rep. Paul Lee, R-Dothan and Sen. Butler. HB249 caps the co-pay amount that an insured or beneficiary must pay for covered prescription insulin drugs. The co-pay amount may not exceed $100 per 30-day supply of the insulin drug.
  • House Bill 94 is sponsored by Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Montgomery, Rep. Tommy Hanes, R-Bryant, and Sen. Butler. HB94 adds an Alabama Forestry Commission wildland firefighter to those eligible for injury and death benefits. Further, the bill includes volunteer firefighters and organized rescue squad members as eligible for benefits in certain circumstances. The bill is named the Joe Donoghue and Donna Jo Horton Act.
  • House Bill 118 is sponsored by Rep. Ed Oliver, R-Dadeville and Sen. Butler. HB118 allows an ad valorem tax and license fee exemption for utility trailers owned by volunteer rescue squads. Currently, the exemption applies only to motor vehicles owned by volunteer rescue squads.
  • House Bill 483 is sponsored by Rep. Oliver and Sen. Butler. HB483 exempts privately owned wastewater systems from regulation by the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Board.

The Ceremonial Bill Signing event is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in the Old House Chambers in Montgomery.

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Ivey is expected to call the Legislature back for a special session in August to address the prison situation. A second special session is expected in late October to address redistricting.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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