FOLEY — State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) visited the Common Sense Campaign on Tuesday to recap victories and failures of the 2024 legislative session.

"One of the things that I will say about this session is that it was a challenging session," Simpson said. "We took on some very ambitious goals. We took up some big issues that have been hitting Alabama or been an issue in Alabama for a long time, and we tried to do the best we could do to try to at least address those issues."

Simpson said the two main issues that dominated the session were gaming and ethics reform.


Lawmakers made another attempt to pass a bill on casinos, lottery and sports gambling, but failed by a single vote. Simpson said he believed there were many good intentions in crafting a bill this session.

"We're not having a [lobbyist] to draft the bill," he said. "They actually sat down and drafted the bill after going all throughout the state."

It is unclear if the issue will come up again next year.

"I've heard from my indications or it's not," he said. "The Speaker has indicated he has no interest in bringing him back up. This was kind of one of those, 'If you can fix it, fix it but if you can't, we're not going to keep having this."

Although Simpson said he wants the people to have a vote, he said he is not pro-gaming.

"I'm tired of the people in Montgomery telling people that aren't in Montgomery how to do their life and how to live," Simpson added. "If you want gaming, vote yes. If you don't want gaming, vote no, but let's have this issue done."

The last time the people of Alabama voted on the issue was in 1999.


Simpson was on the frontlines for ethics reform during this session. He told the group Tuesday that ethics has always been a touchy subject in Alabama, but he wanted to ensure the laws would be clear and that the state was up-to-date.

"The Supreme Court of Alabama has looked at the laws and said, 'There are some really big gaps here," Simpson said. "There are going to be some people that could be found guilty of ethics violations that do not have the intent to commit an ethics violation, and that's a problem. The Court of Criminal Appeals has said the same thing."

While researching ethics laws, Simpson heard "horror stories" about people accused of ethics violations for common sense issues and should not be considered violations.

The bill would have changed penalties for some violations, and Simpson was accused of trying to protect himself. He referenced a radio appearance by Ethics Commissioner Stan McDonald on FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," in which McDonald accused Simpson of being a Democrat and attacked the bill. Following the appearance, Simpson fired back, pointing out that McDonald donated to a political campaign, a felony under current ethics laws because he was an acting Ethics Commissioner. The duel led to the resignation of McDonald, and Simpson said it was a perfect example of why reform was needed.

"So that just proved my point of, nobody knows what these laws are saying because you've got people that are, you know, he's an attorney who serves on the Ethics Commission, he doesn't know what he can and can't do," Simpson told the Common Sense Campaign. "He resigned. He's no longer on the Ethics Commission. So, you know, you just see the chaos and how convoluted and confusing the ethics laws are right now."

Simpson hopes an outside source hired to evaluate the laws will have a proposal ready for ethics reform by the next session.


Simpson said there were several victories in the session, including banning ballot harvesting and banning DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) programs in colleges.

"We prohibited ballot harvesting," Simpson said. "That is going to be, if anything comes away from this session, that's what I would take away from this session. to make sure our elections are trustworthy. We want to make sure that our elections are fair and have the integrity that they need."

"You know, we changed where you could not have diversity, equity and inclusion programs in colleges, which have already been, already paying off because Jacksonville State has already closed their office," he continued. "I think that's going to come throughout the universities. You cannot teach people that one race is better or one race is worse than another. You can't."

As for school choice, Simpson said people in Baldwin County are blessed with great schools, but he is happy to see people all over the state get the opportunity to send their kids to better systems.

Simpson said he was also proud of a new law to protect IVF clinics, a law to stop credit card companies from tracking firearm purchases, a law to make artificial intelligence child porn illegal and a law sending human traffickers to prison for life.

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