The Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) has released its legislative priorities with less than a week until the Alabama Legislature gavels in for the 2024 session.
As lawmakers prepare to make their weekly treks to Montgomery to debate a bevy of issues, the state's Republican leadership will push specific issues it believes are pressing for Alabamians.
ALGOP's priorities for 2024 include:
Enacting universal school choice
Capping annual property tax increases
Advancing comprehensive workforce development in Alabama
Establishing a Women's Bill of Rights
Bolstering election integrity
"The Alabama Republican Party is strongly committed to supporting legislation that reflects the core values that made America great," said ALGOP chairman John Wahl. "We still believe in protecting freedom and the American dream for each and every one of our citizens. It is incredibly important that Alabama passes legislation that helps struggling families with the cost of living, safeguards our children from a socialist agenda, and defends the rights and freedoms of each individual. The bottom line is that we want to return control to the people of Alabama – because they know how to live their lives and raise their children better than the government does."
In recent years, ALGOP has made school choice a focus of its campaigning and legislative focus. And, with school choice slated to be a hot topic in the 2024 legislative session, ALGOP is doubling down on its support for school choice. With different opinions pervading state lawmakers, it is unclear what form a school choice bill may take in the upcoming session.
ALGOP said that capping the annual property tax will help "struggling Alabamians with the impact of the rising cost of living."
Housing and property values have increased substantially in many parts of the nation and state due to the pandemic, inflation, supply chain disruption and more Americans migrating to the country's southeastern region.
State Sen. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay) announced he would file legislation in the upcoming legislative session capping how much property values can be increased on annual reappraisals.
Recently, Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth and legislators unveiled a new legislative package in an attempt to improve the state's workforce. ALGOP says advancing workforce development initiatives that "streamlines government bureaucracy" will help more Alabamians find quality jobs.
In the years following the COVID pandemic, lawmakers and citizens have expressed concern with how state health officers are appointed. Instead of the normal process of governor appointment, the state health officer is selected by the State Board of Health, identical to the professional organization, the Medical Association for the State of Alabama.
State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) says he still plans to file a bill changing the appointment method of the State Health Officer despite a recent administrative rule passed by the Alabama Department of Public Health limiting the emergency powers of the State Health Officer.
ALGOP said the governor should select the state health officer and not an "unelected board that has no direct accountability to the public." ALGOP also said it would back legislation to prohibit mask mandates permanently.
Women's bill of rights
Last session, State Rep. Susan DuBose (R-Hoover) introduced the What is a Woman Act, which sought to standardize definitions of man, woman, boy, girl, father, mother, male, female and sex to use the terms in the Code of Alabama. The bill failed to receive a floor vote before the legislative session ended. However, DuBose told 1819 News she was confident the bill would pass in 2024.
Last session, State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) introduced legislation to increase the penalties for ballot harvesting. The bill caused quite an upstir in the State House in the 2023 legislative session. Public protests, advocate press conferences and prolonged gridlock in the House of Representatives and Senate slowed proceedings for weeks. Despite that, Gudger has filed the same bill for the upcoming legislative session.
The bill would "prohibit any person from distributing, ordering, requesting, collecting, completing, obtaining, or delivering an absentee ballot application or absentee ballot of another person in certain circumstances."
ALGOP supports measures to reform the absentee ballot voting process to "guarantee the security and integrity of every ballot."
ALGOP also said it would promote legislation comparing computer-tabulated ballots with a hand-counted audit.
"As Chairman of the State GOP, I want to see Alabama leading the nation in common sense legislation that puts people first," Wahl concluded. "We are the party of the middle class and working families, and we want each individual to have the opportunity to thrive, as we preserve our traditional American way of life. It is the values of the Republican Party platform that can best help our communities and our citizens be successful. We've seen that in Republican legislation recently, with bills like cutting the grocery tax, banning forced vaccine passports, protecting the 2nd Amendment, and standing up against the woke agenda. We want to see our state build on these successes as we move forward this legislative session. It is time for Alabama to be the national leader we can be."
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