By Paul Richardson
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Alabama lawmakers ended the 2017 legislative session on Friday. Here’s a look at some of the proposals that passed and failed this year.
What was approved:
Lawmakers approved new legislative districts to comply with a court order. The battle will shift back to federal court as lawmakers present the new map to the judges.
Some insurance plans will be required to cover autism therapy for children. The mandate would require insurance plans at businesses with at least 51 employees to cover autism treatment.
Alabama ended its outlier status of allowing a judge to override a jury’s sentencing recommendation in death penalty cases. It will affect only future cases and not inmates currently on death row.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT PROTECTIONS
The bill prohibits the removal, alteration and relocation of any monument that has stood on public property for more than 40 years.. Black lawmakers opposed the bill.
The bill would allow certified midwives to deliver babies without fear of prosecution
Alabama voters next year will vote on a proposal to write into the Alabama Constitution that Alabama is a “right to life” state. The measure is largely symbolic unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it could be used to immediately end abortion access in the state.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM/ ADOPTIONS
The measure prevents the state from refusing to license faith-based adoption organizations that refuse on religious grounds to place children with gay parents or other families
DEATH PENALTY APPEALS
The bill attempts to shorten the time that death penalty appeals take. It is based on Texas procedures and will require inmates to raise claims at the same time as appeals over alleged trial errors.
CROSSOVER VOTING BAN
The bill was passed to prevent voters from one party trying to sway the outcome of the other party’s runoff election.
Here’s what failed:
The proposal would have built up to four new mega-prisons but was bogged down as lawmakers raised concerns arose about the price tag of construction, who would get the contracts and the loss of jobs when existing prisons close. The issue will probably return in a special session.
PRIVATE SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS
The bill would have expanded tax breaks to entice more donations to a state program that provides scholarships for students to attend private K-12 schools. It failed by a 2-1 margin in the House.
CHILD CARE REGULATIONS
The House-passed bill would have required all child care facilities taking government subsidies to be licensed. It also would allow the Department of Human Resources to inspect faith-based day care centers, which otherwise enjoy religious exemptions, once a year. The bill did not get a vote on the Senate floor.
The bill would have allowed online fantasy sports contests in the state. The House approved the bill after lengthy debate but did not get a vote on the Senate floor.
The bill would have allowed Briarwood Presbyterian, a 4,000-member church outside Birmingham, to establish its own police department. The Senate approved the bill, but it did not get a vote on the House floor.
PERMITLESS GUN CARRY
The bill would have allowed people to carry a handgun without getting a concealed carry permit. The bill cleared the Senate but stalled in the House amid heavy opposition from law enforcement officers across the state.