The rate of speed and the number of bills being introduced during the last part of the 2024 legislative session is breathtaking.

Most of the bills are apparently linked to an “Innovation District” initiative. An innovation district is a concentrated geographic area where businesses and academia collaborate toward a common economic goal. While that might sound good on paper, in practice, it could have dire consequences, particularly when the government gets involved.

Instead of limiting this experiment to one area, these bills enable it statewide. The package can only be interpreted as centralized economic planning. No amount of substitutes can change such an inherently flawed proposal. The public must be informed. Alabama’s free market economists — free to offer constructive criticism without repercussions — must be consulted. To be fair to both the legislators and their constituency, informed debate must be held.

Senate Bill 243 is a constitutional amendment that must be approved before all of the related bills can take effect. It will allow a melding of government and business beyond our understanding of the proper role of government in relation to business.

This bill would authorize city and county governments to create innovation districts and have powers well beyond what is normal for subordinate governing bodies with little oversight by the state. Most troublesome is the provision that cities and counties may create “public corporations” “having a legal existence separate and apart from the state, any county, municipality, or political subdivision” that would have the ability to use tax monies without a vote of the people to provide money and resources to private innovation district corporations.

RELATED: Innovation district legislation stalls in Senate: 'One of the worst bills I think I’ve ever seen'

These districts, in turn, would be able to use those monies to benefit private corporations and individuals, which is more concerning. This goes against a traditional understanding of the proper role of government relative to its interactions with business, especially relative to the use of public funds and the over-involvement of government in a free enterprise economic system.

Such government/business interactions would seem to be a strong precursor to full-blown socialism. These corporations will be in a position to contract with private businesses in ways that would lead to picking and choosing winners and losers in elite business dealings without even a competitive bid process.

The fact that the innovation district concept is based upon the agenda of the World Economic Forum does not bode well with the concept of free enterprise in this nation — no matter who else is doing it in isolated places in the U.S.

These bills open the whole state of Alabama to this experiment, expanding state and corporate control over the economy — NOT the American way.

During COVID, the government undermined the delicate competitive balance in the free market system when it intervened to cause small businesses to shut down. It could be further countermanding that balance by adopting a centrally planned system based on its selection of subsidized corporate partners outside of the free market.

Becky Gerritson is the executive director at Eagle Forum of Alabama.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.