State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) plans to re-file his bill to establish visitation policies for hospitals and nursing homes as soon as the regular session resumes next week. 

The State Senate health care committee passed the legislation last week at the start of the special session, but it wasn't voted on by the full Senate on Tuesday afternoon.

"We're getting to the point where even though we aren't able to pass this in special session, sometimes you hold up on your chocolate cake because you've got dinner coming, and I feel like that's where we are on some agreements that we've been able to put together through the Pro-Tem's Office and working diligently with me the last two weeks, the Lieutenant Governor's Office, and just the leadership that's here, and our colleagues on the Senate floor," Gudger said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Gudger said he was "ready right after special session to file this bill again."

State Senate Pro-Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) said on the Senate floor Tuesday that "as soon as we get into the regular session, which will be Tuesday of next week, then this legislation, it's my intent that it's on a hot rail moving quickly through this body for passage." 

"That is what I've committed to you, committed to others, and now commit to the body that this is a topic that we need to be focused on," he said.

The bill would ensure the right to visit anyone in a healthcare facility during visiting hours without having to show proof of vaccination and allow "consensual physical contact between a visitor and a resident, client, or patient."

The legislation would also "require healthcare facilities to allow visitors for residents, clients, or patients in certain situations, including end-of-life scenarios; childbirth; pediatric care; and for those who are having adjustment issues, making a major medical decision, experiencing emotional distress or grief, or struggling to eat, drink, or speak in certain situations."

Governor Kay Ivey called the special session last Wednesday in the middle of the regular session to allocate ARPA funds and transfer nearly $60 million from the state's General Fund to pay off the remainder of a debt to the Alabama Trust Fund.

Alabama legislators passed a bill in 2021 requiring health care facilities to allow patients to have visitors during a public health emergency with exceptions due to federal law and restrictions.

"I think everyone, if I went around the table and asked you to give one story, I think you'd have multiple stories that people could not get in to be able to see their loved ones through Covid or other times that they were in either hospitals or nursing homes," Gudger said at a committee meeting last week. "I had multiple stories myself, and I had multiple phone calls through the last two years of people calling, saying, 'Hey, we passed this bill, but I still can't get in to see my loved one, especially at the end of life.'"

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