MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) made the following statements at the conclusion of the 2021 legislative session:
“The 2021 Alabama Legislative Session has now officially come to an end, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way the Senate has operated since we got started in early February. The Senate has been very deliberative, and it has been very focused and efficient. We’ve had a lot of debate, but at the same time, we as a Senate have worked together to deliver results that are important to the people of Alabama,” Reed said. “I would like to commend each and every one of my Senate colleagues for the collaborative, efficient and targeted approach we have taken, which has resulted in a long list of accomplishments for the people of our state.”
“The Republican Caucus showed up this session ready to hit the ground running to yield significant results for the people of Alabama,” said Scofield. “The pandemic presented several challenges last year that we had never dealt with before in this body, and our members worked diligently these past few months to rise above the obstacles we encountered and provide Alabamians with effective legislation that focuses on our state’s recovery.
“I am extremely pleased with the work that the Caucus chose to prioritize, and I am proud of our members for their efforts to ensure we continue to propel our state forward. We passed various bills that will bring substantial economic relief to businesses and individuals, expand broadband connectivity, protect our Second Amendment rights, safeguard the integrity of our elections, and enhance the quality of life for Alabamians in a variety of different ways,” Scofield continued. “I want to thank our Caucus for working tirelessly to put the people of Alabama first, and I applaud my friend Senator Reed for the meaningful work that took place under his leadership during his first session as Pro Tem.”
Below are a few key pieces of legislation prioritized by the Senate Republican Caucus that were approved this session:
- Priority COVID-19 relief legislation: The legislature swiftly passed several critical pieces of legislation during the first two weeks of session to help Alabama recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic. One of these bills, sponsored by Senator Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook), would prevent the state of Alabama from taxing federal stimulus funds. Another bill, sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), would protect businesses, churches, and individuals from frivolous lawsuits related to the pandemic.
- Reauthorizing the Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act: The legislature reauthorized these two important statewide economic development programs, which expired in 2020. These programs help our state’s ability to recruit jobs and businesses to Alabama and support our mission to grow the state’s economy. Supporting job growth and industrial development is the number one way that we can create a higher quality of life for Alabamians and allow our state to meet its full potential. These bills give Alabama the ability to be competitive in that process.
- Historic state budgets: The Senate budget chairmen, Senator Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) and Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), worked diligently to push two historic budgets through the legislature. The $7.7 billion Education Trust Fund budget and the $2.5 billion General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2022 are the largest budgets of their kind in our state’s history.
- Military and veterans bills: The legislature passed a package of bills that is designed to retain, safeguard, and improve the military presence and investment across Alabama. Among the bills are measures that will allow military dependents attending public colleges and universities in Alabama to pay in-state tuition, make it easier for military families to apply for magnet schools, guarantee the acceptance of out-of-state occupational licenses for military dependents, and others.
- Broadband expansion legislation: Access to high-speed internet is a major concern for all Alabamians and continues to be a top priority in the state legislature. Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) sponsored a bill to develop a connectivity plan to broaden broadband access across the state and provide these critical services to those in rural and underserved areas.
- Second Amendment protection bills: Alabamians have made clear that their right to bear arms must be protected. The legislature passed two bills to defend and support the Second Amendment, including a bill sponsored by Senator Randy Price (R-Opelika) to establish a lifetime concealed carry permit and Senator Gerald Allen’s (R-Tuscaloosa) Second Amendment Preservation Act, which allows the state to step in to prevent the federal government from any unnecessary overreach on gun rights.
- Pay raises for educators: Legislation to provide a 2% across the board pay raise for public education employees, including teachers, support staff, and transportation workers passed the legislature, as well as a bill to establish the Teacher Excellence and Accountability for Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) Salary Schedule Program to confront the significant shortage of credentialed math and science teachers across the state by creating a new salary matrix to recruit and retain these essential educators.
- Medical cannabis: The legislature passed and Governor Kay Ivey signed into law legislation sponsored by Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) to allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to give relief to Alabamians who are suffering from various qualifying medical conditions.
- Pharmacy benefits manager reform legislation: The legislature passed a bill sponsored by Senator Tom Butler (R-Madison) to provide greater choice for patients to choose their pharmacists, protect pharmacies, encourage transparency in the pricing of drugs, and ensure pharmacies are not at a competitive disadvantage when negotiating contracts.
- Protections from COVID-19 vaccine passports: The legislature passed legislation sponsored by Senator Orr to protect Alabamians from any government mandate requiring individuals to present a vaccine passport to receive services and goods or entry into a building.
- Election security legislation: The legislature passed several bills this session to safeguard the security and integrity of our elections, including a bill sponsored by Senator Scofield which makes it a violation of state law for an individual to vote in Alabama and at least one other state in the same election, and a bill by Senator Roberts that would ban curbside voting.
- State Parks improvement bond proposal: A bill carried by Senator Scofield and passed by the legislature proposes a Constitutional Amendment that will be voted on during the next primary election. The bill proposes $85 million in bond improvements for Alabama’s 21 state parks which would pay for renovations of campgrounds, cabins, and other facilities at the sites.
- Priority economic development legislation: Two bills that support innovation and entrepreneurship in the state were passed this session. These bills are important for economic development, establishing the Alabama Innovation Corporation and creating the Innovate Alabama Matching Grant Program to promote research and development in Alabama.
The Senate concluded the 30th and final day of the 2021 legislative session on Monday, May 17. A special session on reapportionment will take place later this year following the release of the U.S. Census Bureau’s data from the 2020 Census.