In two months the Alabama legislature has met for 15 of its 30 days of regular session.
So far 914 bills have been introduced in the two houses and 70 bills have passed in both houses. But there is still much to be done.
The medical marijuana bill has made it through the senate and state Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) said he expects the bill to pass the house, possibly as soon as this week.
“It will go through committee, I suspect (Tuesday) and we will go from there,” Oliver said. “If it goes through committee, I expect it to be on the floor Thursday.”
Oliver said he wrote an amendment for House Bill 1 that prohibits the gender alteration of most children.
“It allows licensed and psychiatric care of them,” Oliver said.
House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 10 prohibit the performance of a medical procedure or the prescription or issuance of medication, upon or to a minor child that is intended to alter the appearance of the minor child’s gender or delay puberty except for certain medically diagnosed sexual development disorders. Oliver said he is unsure of the number of Alabama children seeking gender reassignment but said testimony of health officials and those who have undergone gender change in the health committee of the house of representatives was significant.
“The testimony we have heard, all of it is just parents talking and some kids, it is gut wrenching to hear the parents talk as well as some of the kids themselves,” Oliver said. “The adults, the ones that are 65 or 70 years old, talk about how they wish they would have never done it. They tell you after three to four years, almost all of them regret it.”
Oliver said his amendment allows trained medical professionals to treat the underlying conditions leading to a youth wanting a gender reassignment, that might not be interpreted in the original copy of the bill.
“A sex change does not make them happier or change the issues,” Oliver said. “Sucide is the overlying issue; 90% of these folks have a comorbidity and psychological comorbidities. That means they either have schizophrenia or chronic depression or manic depression or something like that to go along with the transgender disphoria.”
Oliver said another is making its way through the state house that only allows athletes to compete in divisions as the gender of birth where gender is used to divide a sport.
Oliver wrote a bill limiting the Onsite Wastewater Board ability to inspect privately owned wastewater treatment facilities.
“It is the association you join if you work on septic tanks,” Oliver said. “They were created by the legislature to police themselves to provide training. They decided without any instruction from (the legislature) to expand their area of authority to include the large package sewage plants that are built by general contractors. That was never the intent of the creation of this board. They were created to inspect and help permit septic systems for homeowners.”
Oliver said the privately owned wastewater package plants would still come under the regulation and direction of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).
“I told ADPH and everybody else that I would welcome a revisit when it is found it was needed,” Oliver said.
Oliver said with the regulations on the larger treatment facilities, ADEM and ADPH had the professional staff to inspect plans for the facilities and their plans.
Oliver hopes another bill of his also passes both houses in Montgomery this session.
“It keeps rescue squads in the state from paying tax,” Oliver said.
Current law declares motor vehicles owned by incorporated volunteer rescue squads and used exclusively as life saving, rescue or first aid vehicles without profit are exempt from the payment of license and registrations fees and ad valorem tax. Oliver’s bill would provide the same exemptions for utility trailers owned by volunteer rescue squads.
Oliver said other bills getting attention is House Bill 167 after circumstances of recent elections came to light.
“What we discovered in Georgia was people from Alabama went over there and voted in the election. Then voted in Alabama too,” Oliver said. “House Bill 167 prohibits Alabama voters from voting or attempting to vote in this state also in another state in the same election.”
Alabama has passed many bills regulating abortion in the past. This session is no different.
“There is the born alive bill,” Oliver said, “If you abort a baby and it is born alive, you have to take care of it. That was passed last week.”
The Alabama Legislature will continue to meet until May. Another bill being presented would have the sweet potato become the state’s official vegetable join the ranks of the camellia as the state flower, the Red Hills salamander as the state amphibian, the brown shrimp as the state crustacean and the West Indian manatee as the state marine mammal, all official symbols of the State of Alabama approved by the state legislature.