The controversial divisive concepts bill may not reach the Senate floor before the end of the 2022 regular session.
House Bill 312, by State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville), would rid K-12 classrooms of “divisive” concepts regarding race, sexuality or religion. The bill has 38 co-sponsors.
According to Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed, the Senate Republican Caucus has not yet reached an agreement on the bill. The bill's fate remains unclear, with only two legislative days left in the session.
Although Friday is the last possible day of the session, Reed and others have intimated that the session may conclude on Thursday.
“We are still working on [the bill],” Reed said. “… I think the caucus votes are happening all the time. We are continuing to debate and talk amongst ourselves as to exactly what we are looking to do. Once you modify or change, offer amendments, votes change. So, as we move into the last day, possibly, of the session, a lot of things are moving, a lot of things are changing, so we’ll have to stay attentive to what happens in the morning [Thursday].”
Sources have told 1819 News that the legislation failed in the Caucus by a vote of 13-12. When asked, Reed said, “I wasn’t counting the votes."
The bill passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 67-30 and one abstention. Allen Farley (R-McCalla) and Mike Ball (R-Madison) were the only two Republicans in the House to vote against the bill.
1819 News spoke with Oliver about the future of his bill, specifically if the Senate Caucus was having issues with it.
“Yes, that is true,” Oliver confirmed.
When asked about the tension surrounding the bill, Oliver seemed perplexed by the reaction since an identical bill had already passed through the Senate.
“I don’t understand it,” Oliver said. “They passed out the Senate version. I thought we had a Republican supermajority.”
1819 News asked, “I thought everyone in the Caucus was a conservative Republican. Have the Senate Republicans gone moderate?”
“You write it up any way you want to,” Oliver replied.
While the bill does not address Critical Race Theory (CRT) by name, the bill has colloquially been dubbed an "anti-CRT bill.”
Some have criticized the bill as banning the teaching of Alabama’s history of racism, slavery, segregation, and other negative realities of the state’s history, an assertion with which Oliver vehemently disagrees.
“This legislation is needed to keep children from being taught to hate other people and hate America,” Oliver said on the Alabama House floor in mid-March. “Divisive concepts are well defined.”The bill states that a divisive concept is any concept that teaches inherent superiority, inherent racism or sexism, discrimination based on race, or responsibility, blame and guilt for actions committed by others within the same race, sex, or religion, among others.
Opponents believe the bill would somehow alter how history is taught.
“Racism begins with slavery in this country,” said State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham). “Our ancestors were brought here in slaves ships, brutally beaten, raped and maimed in some cases, and you don’t even know the history.”
“All the damn issues we could focus on in this state, you choose this one,” said House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville). “You have chosen for your legacy to be the guy that tried to erase the teaching of history in this state.”
“We have to understand where our pitfalls are, and slavery was a pitfall,” said Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham).
“This bill is designed to shield people from the uncomfortable truth that exists in this country, in this state,” Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) said. “It really disturbs me that we are sitting here debating a bill to keep White people from feeling uncomfortable.”
Brandon Moseley contributed to this article.
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