The Alabama Senate passed a bill Tuesday restricting state agencies or institutions from purchasing U.S. and Alabama state flags manufactured from outside the United States.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville, and eight other Senate Republicans, passed the Senate 28-2 and now moves to the state House for consideration.
State Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, and Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, were the only senators to vote against the measure.
During deliberations, Singleton questioned the significance of a ban on purchasing foreign-made U.S. and Alabama state flags and asked if banning foreign-made flags would be “the best price point for the state of Alabama.”
“Sometimes we come up, and we talk about free enterprise and free markets, and it sounds like we’re cutting back on free enterprise here,” Singleton said.
Givhan said the bill was written due to “discrepancies” in Alabama flag-making companies not being awarded bids to make U.S. and Alabama state flags. The bids, according to Givhan, ultimately went to companies based in China who manufactured flags that allegedly “didn’t meet specs.”
“When we are talking about our flags for our state and our country, I don’t think it’s a hard ask to have those [flags] made in the United States,” Givhan said.
McClendon asked Givhan about the cost to the Alabama taxpayer if the bill was enacted.
“Seems like to me that the legislature needs to have an idea if it’s going to cost the taxpayers of Alabama more money in order to implement this,” McClendon said. “I expect, one reason that we buy things outside of the U.S. is not out of patriotism, but out of money.”
Givhan said that there would be a bid process for flag manufacturers and that the bill would not require state agencies or institutions to purchase flags but require those U.S. and state flags purchased by the state to be manufactured in the United States.
Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress in the past, with no bill completing final passage in Washington. In 2015, the Pentagon banned foreign-made U.S. flags from being purchased by the U.S. Armed Forces.