Alabama's handling of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, which went well into 2021 for the state, raised many questions about the antiquated health laws on the books, and in some cases gave unelected bureaucrats broad authority over individual personal freedoms and liberties.

Under those laws, the state had the authority to close businesses, infringe on First Amendment freedom of religion protections and impose seemingly endless mask requirements on the public against its will.

Throughout the ordeal, legislators threatened action to reform the century-old laws governing the State Health Officer and Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). However, they were met with resistance from Gov. Kay Ivey and some in the legislature's leadership.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show" on Friday, State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) said he would like to see the Alabama Legislature take another crack at it in the future. However, he said it would have to be an effort requiring some buy-in from Ivey.

"That's certainly something I hope we look at again," he said. "That was certainly tried last quadrennium. Senator [Tom] Whatley from the Auburn area, from the Lee County area, pushed that issue hard. The Governor's office pushed back against it, whether it was dealing with the Governor's emergency powers or the state health office herself. And she continuously pushed back very, very hard on that. I know Senator Whatley, obviously a powerful senator himself as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, worked that bill very hard, continued to think we had it in a place where it was going to be successful. Ultimately, it wasn't, and that was pretty disappointing. But my hope is we continue to work on it."

"That's another area in my mind where I think the Governor could show some leadership and take over, if you will, some of those responsibilities," Elliott continued. "Does the state health officer need to be appointed by the Governor, somebody responsible to the people as opposed to a bunch of doctors? Should we be doing that - especially as we are making decisions that are typically reserved for elected officials, like, 'Hey, we're going to close down the state.' Somebody who is responsible to the public ought to be making those decisions, not somebody who is unelected or who has no elected boss. And those are changes that need to be made. But I think there's going to have to be changed in the Governor's office in order for that to be successful."

"You'll remember - as a legislator, we've always got to remember, what is the Governor going to do with this," he added. "Because she could, and I think this Governor would, veto something she doesn't like."

Even though the legislature could override the veto with a simple majority, Elliott said it was sometimes reluctant to do so because it put the body's leadership at odds with the Governor.

Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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