2022 Alabama legislative session
The make-up of the legislature was unchanged from the 2021 Alabama legislative session, having been set by the 2018 general election. The Alabama House of Representatives consisted of 76 Republican members (75 of them white) and 27 Democrats (26 of them Black), with two vacant seats, and was presided over by Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-District 25, Madison County). The Alabama State Senate had a 27-8 Republican majority (all 27 Republicans being white and 7 of 8 Democrats being Black), and was chaired by Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth.
Among the other major issues taken up during the 2022 session were allocation of $580 million in federal relief funds distributed under the American Rescue Plan Act, part of which had already been committed to prison construction ($400 million) and hospitals ($80 million) in a 2021 special session. The legislature was expected to raise salaries for teachers and state employees. House Republicans are pushing a "Standing Tall for Alabama" agenda, the highlights of which include outlawing "critical race theory" in public schools, raising assault charges against first responders to automatic felonies, and eliminating the requirement to have a permit to carry a concealed firearm (a measure largely opposed by Sheriffs).
- Act of Alabama No. 2022-34, expanded the definition of "critical infrastructure" to include pipelines and mining facilities and expanded the definition of "unauthorized access" to include aerial drone overflights. Sponsored in the Senate by Garlan Gudger Jr (R-Cullman) and signed into law on February 22. (link)
- Act of Alabama No. 2022-75, exempted federal COVID relief payment authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 from taxable income for state income tax purposes. Signed into law on March 1. (link)
- Act of Alabama No. 2022-80, modified state law revising the scope of the Alabama State Textbook Committee and giving the Alabama Superintendent of Education and Alabama Board of Education greater scope for reviewing instructional materials purchased by the state for public schools. Sponsored in the Senate by Tim Melson (R-Florence). Signed into law on March 4. (link)
- Act of Alabama No. 2022-111, ordered that a measure to ratify of the Alabama Constitution of 2022, a recompilation of the Alabama Constitution of 1901, be placed on the 2022 general election ballot. Signed into law on March 9. (link)
- Act of Alabama No. 2022-133, removed the requirements for a permit and background check in order to carry a concealed handgun. The bill was sponsored by Representative Shane Stringer (R-Mobile County). The bill was supported by the National Rifle Association and was opposed by the Alabama Sheriffs Association and the Alabama Chapter of Moms Demand Action. It went into effect on January 1, 2023. (link)
- Act of Alabama No. 2022-261, sponsored by Representative Wes Allen (R-Dale/Pike Counties), designated the peanut as the "Official State Legume of Alabama". The act was signed on March 31.
- Act of Alabama No. 2022-286, sponsored by Representative Jeff Sorrells (R-District 87) ordered that a measure to modify Amendment No. 772 of the former Alabama Constitution of 1901 (recompiled as Article IV, Section 94.01) be placed on the general election ballot. The amendment expanded economic development powers granted to some counties and cities to apply to all. (link)
- Act of Alabama No. 2022-289 the "Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Shay Shelnutt (R-Montevallo) and Representative Wes Allen (R-Dale/Pike Counties) makes it a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to perform or assist in a medical procedure or pharmaceutical prescription, "for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of, or affirm the minor's perception of, his or her gender or sex, if that perception is inconsistent with the minor's biological sex." The act was signed on April 8.
- Act of Alabama No. 2022-290 co-sponsored by 46 House Republicans, requires public schools to designate restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms for use by students only according to the biological sex, "as stated on the individual's original birth certificate". An amendment, inserted just prior to passage, adds a prohibition against discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in elementary school classrooms. The language was modeled after Florida's "Don't Say Gay" act. The law was signed by Governor Ivey on April 8.
In January 2022 a panel of three federal judges heard arguments that the plan which was passed violated the Voting Rights Act, and ruled that the legislature would need to adopt a plan which achieved fairer representation within two weeks, or accept a plan drawn by a court-appointed expert. Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that he would appeal the ruling. On February 7 the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of the lower court's order pending its review of the appeal, thus allowing the 2022 election to be conducted using the districts ruled to be unlawful by the lower court.
The Alabama House of Representatives passed an education funding bill on March 8 by a 100-1 vote. The bill removed $125 million from the budget proposal submitted by Governor Ivey, but included a 4% cost of living increase for education employees. It also included a modest expansion of the state's "First Class" Pre-K program, and adds reading coaches and technology coordinators to all school districts. A later bill added additional annual increases for teachers with more than 9 years of experience.
Other proposed legislation
- A bill (HB2/(SB115)) the "Anti-Aggravated Riot Act", sponsored by Representative Allen Treadaway (R-District 51) would expand the definitions of and increase penalties for assault against first responders, participating in or inciting a riot or interfering with traffic, and would withhold all state support for any jurisdiction found to have substantially "defunded" its police department. The bill passed the house by unanimous voice vote and was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.
- A bill (SB1) sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) would remove a number of existing legal restrictions on the possession of a firearm in certain places. The bill was advanced by voice vote in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
- A bill (SB2) the "Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act", sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) would establish by law that, "any and all federal acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations related to firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition are a direct infringement on the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and therefore are unconstitutional," and would prohibit state employees or state resources to be used in enforcement of such regulations. The bill was advanced by voice vote in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
- A bill (SB8) to hold a referendum on a proposed amendment to the 1901 Alabama Constitution sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) would prohibit the use of state resources to enforce any executive order from the President of the United States relating to firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition.
- A bill (SB53) sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) would make it a felony for an individual to intentionally damage, deface, or mar a public monument while participating in a riot or unlawful assembly.
- A proposal to amend the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act (SB54) sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) would increase penalties from $25,000 to $5,000 per day, with fines earmarked for the Alabama State Historic Preservation Fund. The bill was advanced by voice vote in the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.
- A bill (SB127) to hold a referendum on a proposed amendment to the 1901 Alabama Constitution co-sponsored by 24 Republican Senators, would require local school districts to broadcast or perform the first stanza of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at least once a week during school hours and before all school-sanctioned athletic events.
- A bill (SB140) the "Parent's Choice Act, co-sponsored by 8 Republican Senators, would establish a "Parent's Choice Program" managing education savings accounts which would include a proportion of funds for public K-12 education that could be used to pay for private schools. The bill was advanced by voice vote in the Senate Committee on Education Policy.
- A bill (SB144) sponsored by Tim Melson (R-Florence) would clarify that only non-psychoactive derivatives of hemp can qualify for exemption from restrictions on Schedule I narcotics. Thereby returning "Delta-8 THC" to the controlled substances list. The bill was referred to the Senate committee on Healthcare.
- A bill (SB160) sponsored by Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), would reduce criminal classifications and penalties for marijuana possession. The bill was referred to the Senate committee on Judiciary.
- A bill (SB190) co-sponsored by 21 Republican Senators, would assign any legal challenges to Congressional redistricting to a panel of three judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Alabama State Supreme Court, rather than to the Montgomery County Circuit Court.
- A bill (SB207) sponsored by Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), would make it a crime to construct a secret compartment in a vehicle or operate a vehicle which is equipped with one. The bill is supported by the Alabama Law Enforcement Association.
- A bill (SB282) sponsored by Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman), would institute a limit of 10% of municipal revenues to be derived from traffic fines, with any excess being appropriated to the Alabama Crime Victims' Compensation Fund and the Alabama Fair Trial Tax Fund.
- A bill (SB292), sponsored in the Senate by Will Barfoot (R-Montgomery) would prohibit the state and its public educational institutions from accepting funding, participating in training or implementing any programs of instruction that would teach students, "to adopt or believe certain concepts regarding race, sex, or religion," and establishing that any violation of that prohibition constitutes grounds for terminating employment. The prohibited concepts listed in the bill are:
- That one race, sex, or religion is inherently superior to another race, sex, or religion.
- That this state or the United States is inherently racist or sexist.
- That an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
- That an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely on the basis of his or her race.
- That members of one race should attempt to treat others differently solely on the basis of race.
- That an individual's moral character is determined solely on the basis of his or her race, sex, or religion.
- That an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race, sex, or religion, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, sex, or religion.
- That fault, blame, or bias should be assigned to a race, sex, or religion, or to members of a race, sex, or religion, solely on the basis of their race, sex, or religion.
- Crain, Trisha Powell, Rebecca Griesbach, and Savannah Tryens-Fernandes (January 11, 2022) "Teacher pay, COVID funding: Alabama legislature starts 2022 session amid record revenue." The Birmingham News
- Cason, Mike (January 18, 2022) "Alabama plans to use federal rescue dollars for broadband access, water projects, hospitals." The Birmingham News
- Koplowitz, Howard (January 24, 2022) "Alabama’s congressional redistricting maps blocked: Federal judges seek more Black majority districts." The Birmingham News
- Chandler, Kim (February 9, 2022) "Alabama riot bill heads under criticism toward a House vote." Associated Press/Al.com
- Yeager, Andrew (February 11, 2022) "Alabama Republicans pass bill to hike penalties for removing Confederate monuments." WBHM.org
- Cason, Mike (February 12, 2022) "Alabama legislators to consider reducing marijuana possession penalties to fines only." The Birmingham News
- Yurkanin, Amy (February 18, 2022) "Alabama lawmakers seek to regulate Delta 8 THC." The Birmingham News
- Cason, Mike (March 8, 2022) "Alabama House passes state’s largest education budget, teacher raises." The Birmingham News
- Cason, Mike (March 10, 2022) "Gov. Kay Ivey signs bill to end concealed carry permit requirement." The Birmingham News
- Griesbach, Rebecca (March 15, 2022) "Alabama committee denies debate from Black lawmakers, OKs ‘divisive concepts’ bill." The Birmingham News
- Cason, Mike (April 4, 2022) "Teacher raises among unfinished business as Alabama lawmakers near end of session." The Birmingham News
- Tryens-Fernandes, Savannah (April 8, 2022) "‘Can we not just live?’ Alabama’s anti-LGBTQ bills signed into law as teens worry about their future." The Birmingham News
- Griesbach, Rebecca (April 8, 2022) "Groups say they’ll sue to dismantle Alabama’s new anti-transgender laws." The Birmingham News
- Cason, Mike (April 10, 2022) "Bills about children and gender identity bring Alabama legislative session to divisive finish." The Birmingham News