March 12, 2021 | Regular Session
House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, and Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield, R-Red Hill, visit with Federation Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts about gaming, medical marijuana and more as the Alabama Legislature completes its fifth week of work.

Senate Narrowly Rejects Gambling Bill
Legislation aimed at creating a state lottery, legalizing sports betting and authorizing casino-style gambling at 10 locations across Alabama failed to pass the Senate Tuesday by a 19-13 vote. 

As a proposed constitutional amendment, SB 214 by Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, required 21 “yes” votes to advance to the House of Representatives. The comprehensive gaming bill also would have authorized the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. 

Proceeds from the plan would have gone to a variety of uses including education, the expansion of broadband internet and bolstering the Alabama Trust Fund. 

Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, and Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, have both introduced lottery-only bills. SB 318 and SB 319 have been assigned to the Senate Tourism Committee. 
Medical Marijuana Bill Awaits House Committee Vote
The House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on a bill to legalize medical marijuana Wednesday, and is expected to vote on the measure next week. If approved, the bill would go to the House Health Committee for further consideration.

SB 46 by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, passed the Senate last month. The legislation would authorize use of cannabis for 17 conditions and establish regulations for the cultivation and dispensing of the substance. The bill prohibits distribution of marijuana for smoking, vaping or as an ingredient in baked products. 

Federation policy opposes legalizing marijuana. The organization has worked to ensure the legislation, if approved, includes language requiring the plant to be grown by Alabama farmers. 
Farm, Forestry License Plate Bill Passes House
Farmers and forest products haulers would benefit under legislation approved unanimously by the House of Representatives Thursday. 

HB 460, by Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, would level the playing field for loggers by allowing large trucks to carry a restricted (L) tag. The bill also would lift limits that currently prevent farmers from purchasing more than four (F4) farm tags for their large trucks. Currently, Alabama log trucks over 42,000 pounds must carry a commercial tag and comply with the International Registration Plan (IRP). Trucks in neighboring states have restricted plates and are exempt from the IRP.
House Approves Night Hunting of Feral Swine, Coyotes
The House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to allow the sale of licenses for night hunting of feral swine and coyotes. The license and issuance fees would total $15 for Alabama residents and $51 for out-of-state hunters. The measure could impact management decisions by changing the perception of feral swine and coyotes from nuisance animals to recreational game.
Small Farm Winery Bill Awaits Action in Senate
The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry last week approved the Small Farm Winery bill. It would allow producers to sell their product to licensed retailers and directly to consumers, under certain conditions. 

SB 294 by Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, defines a Small Farm Winery as one producing fewer than 50,000 gallons of wine a year from fruit that’s at least 50 percent Alabama-grown. Under existing law, small wineries may only sell to distributors and wholesalers or in limited quantities to consumers at the farm.
Alabama National Guard To Help With Vaccinations 
Gov. Kay Ivey announced this week she will deploy the Alabama National Guard later this month to administer COVID-19 vaccine in 24 rural counties. 

The Guard and Alabama Department of Public Health will work with local emergency management agencies on sites and logistics. The mobile vaccination teams are set to begin rotating through target areas March 23. The Guard is capable fielding two mobile vaccination teams. Each can serve 1,000 patients per day for a total of 8,000 doses per week between the two sites. 
A Century of Service as the Voice of Alabama Agriculture
1931 Legislators attempted to weaken the structure of the Alabama Farm Bureau. In response, through its grassroots efforts, the Alabama Farm Bureau mobilized over 10,000 farmers. The crowd descended on Montgomery to attend a legislative hearing on the legislation. The crowd was so large the hearing was moved to the Cramton Bowl to accommodate the crowd. This effort was successful in defeating the legislation.
Your Voice Is More Important Than Ever

With COVID-19 precautions limiting access to the State House for the public and Alabama Farmers Federation External Affairs team, it's vital members develop and maintain strong relationships with legislators in the district. Contact the External Affairs team (below) if you have questions or need assistance contacting your senator or representative.

Capitol Connection | Alabama Farmers Federation | (334) 288-3900 |

 Matthew Durdin - Director, External Affairs Department
 Preston Roberts - Director, Agricultural Legislation
Casey Rogers, Director, State Legislative Programs
John Allen Nichols, Agriculture Counsel
Beth Chapman, Beth Chapman and Associates, LLC