Members of the House Republican Caucus leadership and agenda committee held a news conference on Wednesday where they unveiled the 2022 “Standing Tall for Alabama” legislative agenda.

The package includes measures that ends the state concealed carry permit requirement, bans Critical Race Theory in public schools, gives pay raises to teachers, increases the criminal penalties for attacking a first responder, cuts taxes for small businesses and farmers, and further expands broadband access in rural Alabama.

“Our 2022 ‘Standing Tall for Alabama’ agenda is a broad-based plan that positively affects every Alabamian and makes our state an even better place to live, work, worship, and raise a family,” House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said.  “While other bills will certainly be introduced, debated, and voted upon during the 2022 session, Republican House members have unanimously pledged to prioritize and pass through our chamber the measures that are included in our agenda.”

State Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Fairview) chaired the Caucus platform committee, which solicited Republican lawmakers to submit bills for consideration and recommended the items included in the agenda. The full Caucus membership ratified the recommendations at a recent meeting.

“I believe the platform committee crafted a document that truly reflects the needs, issues, and concerns that matter most to our fellow Alabamians,” Shedd said. “It is an ambitious but achievable agenda that is firmly rooted in constitutional principles, conservative policies, and commonsense philosophy.”

However, the package does not include any tax cuts for Alabama taxpayers. A proposal to cut the state tax on groceries from four percent to two percent was not included in the package. Neither was an effort to lower the state’s corporate or individual tax rates nor a proposal to increase the personal income tax exemption.

There was also no promise to end the Common Core-aligned Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, a priority of the Alabama Legislative Watchdogs.

“If the Legislature thinks that they can get rid of CRT without addressing Common Core they are delusional,” said Watchdogs' leader Ann Eubank.

Both Ledbetter and Shedd thanked members of the House Republican Caucus agenda committee for their hard work.

Shedd was joined by Reps. Alan Baker (R-Brewton), Chip Brown (R -Hollinger’s Island), Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), Joe Lovvorn (R-Auburn), Proncey Robertson (R-Mount Hope), Scott Stadthagen (R -Hartselle), Allen Treadaway (R-Morris), Ritchie Whorton (R-Owens Cross Roads), Margie Wilcox (R-Mobile), and Debbie Wood (R-Valley) on the committee.

The Alabama House Republican Caucus vowed to pass “Constitutional Carry” legislation which they claim fully embraces the tenets of the Second Amendment and allows law-abiding Alabamians to carry firearms without first having to pay for a permit for their Second Amendment rights.

Alabama Sheriffs and some county commissions have already passed resolutions opposing constitutional carry because they claim that it undermines law enforcement and makes it more dangerous for law enforcement officers if there are more guns on the streets.

Additionally, the House Republican Caucus will prevent state law enforcement officers from enforcing what they called “unconstitutional, anti-Second Amendment, federal executive orders that are signed and issued by the Biden administration.”

It is unclear if that means that state and local law enforcement can continue to assist federal authorities in enforcing existing federal gun laws or only applies to Biden administration executive orders.

The Caucus promised to approve legislation to ban Critical Race Theory “and other extremist social doctrines” from being taught in the state’s taxpayer-funded, public school classrooms.

It is not clear if that will apply only to K-12 schools or be expanded to public colleges and state agencies.

The Caucus promised to pass “The Alabama Anti-Riot Act,” which creates new and stricter punishments for those who lead or participate in riots, such as the uprising that occurred in downtown Birmingham in 2020 and resulted in widespread damage and burglaries in multiple businesses and the vandalization of public property.

The Caucus promised to pass the “First Responder Protection Act,” which creates the new felony crimes of Assault Against a First Responder in the first and second degrees.

The Caucus said that it has already enacted the nation’s strongest pro-life law and will begin the process to streamline, clarify and improve the adoption process so foster care and adoption agencies may more easily move children into permanent families and forever homes.

The Caucus will also pass a resolution urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule as constitutional the Mississippi pro-life law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Caucus promised to oppose any efforts by Alabama Democrats to erode the state’s election integrity, voter identification and absentee ballot security laws.

That presumably means that any Democratic effort to ban photo ID or impose curbside or month-long voting will be dead on arrival in the legislature.

The Caucus promised to exempt the first $40,000 of business personal property from taxation in order to recognize the important role that small businesses and farms play in our state’s economy.

The Caucus, during this election year, promised to pass pay raises for teachers and other active public education workers and state employees.

The Caucus also promised to pass a longevity bonus based upon years of service for retired teachers, support personnel, and retired state employees.

The Caucus promised to prioritize the initiative to build, improve, and expand high-speed internet service in rural Alabama. The state is awash in federal dollars to pay for broadband expansion.

The Caucus vowed to approve a package of bills recommended by the Military Stability Commission and designed to make Alabama the nation’s friendliest state for service members, dependents, and veterans in hopes to help Alabama preserve and expand the military bases and infrastructure in the state.

Conservative leaders were generally pleased by what was in the package, but more than a little annoyed by what was not in the package.

Eubank said banning CRT but not addressing Common Core doesn't recognize the link between the issues. 

"It all goes together: Common Core standards, textbooks, teaching materials, pedagogy,'' Eubank said. "SEL(Social Emotional Learning), DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion), CRT (Critical Race Theory) are all part of one big plan.

“The liberal colleges are teaching our teachers how to incorporate all of these into the 'way' they teach, not 'what' they teach. The school systems can say, 'we don’t have CRT in our curriculum,' but they are prevaricating and obfuscating to cover up the fact that our children are being bombarded daily in the classrooms with all of this garbage. Deconstruct the entire education system to get rid of the problem. Pass a Bill that will actually do something to drag us out of the septic tank. Allow the education dollars to follow the student to the school of the parent’s choice. That would work.”

The Alabama public schools are consistently ranked at or near the bottom in reading and math scores since the current standards were adopted by the State Board of Education.

The House may prioritize these pieces of legislation, but the state Senate has not yet announced its intentions on passing the House’s agenda.

The 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session begins on Tuesday.

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