Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth praised the members of the State Senate on Tuesday for their quick passage of a legislative package that is designed to retain, protect, and improve the federal military presence and investment across Alabama.
The legislative package is the result of work by the Alabama Military Stability Commission, a panel that is chaired by Ainsworth and was created by state statute in 2011. In addition to several elected officials and cabinet members, the commission also includes regional appointees from areas across the state with a heavy defense concentration.
“The bills in this legislative package offer solid evidence that we continue working every day to ensure Alabama remains the nation’s most attractive and friendliest state for active military, military dependents, and veterans who have served our nation,” Ainsworth said. “Fully meeting the needs of military families will keep Alabama’s economy healthy and growing by protecting the bases and installations located here and convincing service members to become permanent residents once they retire or leave the military.”
Among the bills approved by the Senate were:
- Senate Bill 28 by Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Butler, R – Madison, allows for the creation of the Space National Guard branch of the Alabama National Guard if the federal government authorizes the entity by Fiscal Year 2025.
- Senate Bill 99 by Sen. Andrew Jones, R – Centre, creates a compact allowing psychologists and counselors licensed to practice in participating states to also practice within Alabama.
- Senate Bill 116 by Sen. Tom Whatley, R – Auburn, allows children of military families relocating to Alabama to enroll in public school before arrival without having to first provide proof of residency.
- Senate Bill 119 by Sen. Will Barfoot, R – Pike Road, expands scholarships provided under the Alabama G.I. and Dependents’ Educational Benefit Act to include private colleges and universities and adds the U.S. Space Command to qualifying branches.
- Senate Bill 141 by Sen. Butler extends the deadline for various occupational licensure boards to allow military spouses licensed in other states to practice their trade while stationed in Alabama.
- Senate Bill 167 by Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R – Trussville, creates a compact allowing occupational therapists licensed to practice in participating states to also practice within Alabama.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed, R – Jasper, said that his body’s passage of the military package marks the continuation of a legislative committment that began several years ago.
“I was honored to support this innovative legislative package supporting Alabama’s incredible military families,” Reed said. “I applaud Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s continued leadership on this vital issue, and I commend my colleagues for making passage of this legislation a top priority. The Senate has proudly made supporting Alabama’s extended military, defense, aerospace, and intelligence communities one of our key missions in recent years, and we will continue to do so moving forward. We want our state to be a Sweet Home for the heroes and their families who put their lives on the line to keep our nation safe, strong, and free. I look forward to building on Alabama’s reputation of being a 21st century hub for America’s military.”
Chairman Butler noted that Alabama remains a major player in the nation’s defense industry and the work of the Military Stability Commission ensures that the state will retain that important role for years to come.
“The state of Alabama plays a vital role in the prosperity of the United States’ defense programs,” Butler said. “From advanced defense manufacturing and hypersonic and aerospace production to housing multiple renowned federal military bases to the welcoming of the U.S. Space Command headquarters, Alabama continues to be indispensable to the strength and success of our military.”
The package of bills now travels to the House of Representatives, where it was included in the “Standing Tall for Alabama” legislative agenda of that body’s Republican Caucus.