Busy Alabama legislative session comes to an end

Published 11:31 am Monday, May 20, 2024

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By PAUL DEMARCO | Guest Columnist 

Now that everyone is back home after another session of the Alabama Legislature, we can look back to evaluate what lawmakers did and did not get done. There is plenty of good, bad and ugly that happened the past few months.

There were a number of bills that will increase public safety that became law and a few that would have weakened the justice system that failed. Thank goodness there are some legislators who listened to their constituents who made it clear that public safety must be the foremost priority. No question though, lawmakers will have to fight efforts by progressive advocacy groups to release more violent felons back on the streets in next year’s session

There were record budgets that were appropriated for the general fund and public education that were approved that may be the last for a while with the questions about the economy making legislators nervous for the future. There has been a lot of money put in rainy day accounts that may come into play soon.

There was major education reform and election integrity bills that passed that were major wins for the citizens of the state. These were a long time coming but finally gained majority votes to make it to the governor’s desk.

Of course, the controversy related to in vitro fertilization was addressed very quickly by state representatives and senators. We will see if that issue is resolved or will lingering questions be addressed in coming sessions.

But what has gotten the most attention was the Alabama Legislature came one vote away from approving a Constitutional Amendment to allow voters to decide on whether they would approve the legalization of gambling in the state. This debate has been going on for decades but came the closet in 25 years to positioning the state to allowing gaming in Alabama.

There is always the possibility that Governor Kay Ivey could call a special session this year, but it is unlikely unless some major issue that is time sensitive comes up.

For now, everyone is back home, but there will still be a lot of discussion on the past legislative session and what it will mean for the next one in 2025.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He can be found on X formerly Twitter at @Paul_DeMarco