11th & 12th legislative days
First confirmed case of COVID-19 in Alabama
Alabama’s first case of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) was confirmed in a Montgomery County man on Friday. Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the state’s first confirmed case was found in an adult male patient who had felt ill after returning from out-of-state travel. The man’s test results were confirmed about 8 a.m. Friday, and he is currently self-isolating, not hospitalized. Since this first case, the state has seen 27 more cases and we expect the numbers to grown in similar fashion to other states.
The city of Montgomery moved to shut down any large public events, on advice from public health officials who are cautioning people to avoid gatherings of hundreds of people. All city sponsored events, including an upcoming half marathon and rodeo, are cancelled effective immediately. City buildings may be limited in terms of access, though access to “essential city services” will not be.
While things will remain very fluid for the very near future, we did learn today that ALDOT will continue to operate as normal as their function is considered essential for government functions. This will include all construction and inspection related activities.
Senate approves medical marijuana bill
After several hours of debate on Thursday, the Senate voted 22 – 10 to approve a medical marijuana bill. The proposal would allow people with a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana for 15 conditions including cancer, anxiety and chronic pain. It also would allow them to purchase cannabis products at one of 34 licensed dispensaries. The bill would allow marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches, and creams, but not in smoking or vaping products.
The bill faced considerable opposition from several Senators and also from Alabama’s Attorney General. He sent lawmakers a letter expressing his opposition, noting that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The path forward in the House is unclear as Speaker McCutcheon said they are in “wait and see mode.”
Lottery Bill Introduced in the House
A new version of a lottery bill was filed in the Alabama House last week. On Wednesday, Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said he filed the new lottery bill to “get it in place,” but is not yet pushing to get it on the House floor. “I’m not interested in tying up the House’s time if the Senate isn’t going to address it,” Clouse said. Clouse’s bill would split revenues, estimated at about $167 million a year, between the state’s pre-kindergarten program and higher education scholarships.
The Alabama Legislature will be on Spring Break the week of March 16 – 20, 2020. The House is set to reconvene on March 25th and the Senate is set to reconvene on March 31st.