On the last day of the 2022 legislative session, State Rep. Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle) successfully shepherded a bill through the legislature into passage that requires public school students to use the restroom assigned to their biological gender.
House Bill 322 (HB322), which also included a rider that mimics Florida's Parental Rights in Education law added by State Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville), has been criticized and called an election-year stunt by detractors.
However, Stadthagen, who is running unopposed - as are most of his fellow incumbent Republicans - rejects that charge and insists the legislation was a response to a concern brought by his constituents.
"I was blessed to be unopposed," Stadthagen said during an interview on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show". "When I look at legislation, I look at legislation -- is it good for our state, is it good for my community? And that's why originally the bathroom bill, the gender bathroom bill, I had that drafted because it is truly a problem we're having in our state. The direction our society is facing and pointing toward, you know, that's what this amendment addresses.
"[T]his was not a political stunt. This was something we feel as conservative Republicans is the right thing to do, and this is the path we want our state to go forward on."
The Morgan County Republican also explained how sometimes bills like this take longer for passage out of a desire for the caucus to be "respectful."
"You know, that's the thing with politics -- you've got passionate folks on both sides," he said. "The problem with Republicans sometimes is we are conservative and respectful, and we're passionate, but we're not as loud as the other side sometimes because we always want to be respectful. And that's kind of our downfall sometimes as the Republican Party because we are so respectful. But I think we make our mark with legislation, and we do it the proper way and a respectful way."
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