This week, Arizona has been a hotbed of controversial news. SB 1062 would have allowed any business that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers. The bill was so controversial, some Arizona legislators wanted to change their vote, after they voted YES. Many businesses and people were calling for Governor Jan Brewer to VETO this bill, and they got their wish. A few hours ago, the governor vetoed the bill, and unless there is a legislature override, the bill is dead.
And sadly, I thought this would happen if Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1062. Some legislator down here in Alabama would have proposed something similar, and it would have passed with flying colors. Now, that this bill is now dead, unless the Arizona Legislators are stupid, I believe the legislators here in Alabama will think twice before proposing something similar to the Arizona bill. But sadly, there are other bills currently going through the Alabama Legislator that could cause Alabama some embarrassment. Here are the five bills going through the Alabama Legislature that are a black eye for Alabama, and it will make the state a laughing stock once again.
School Prayer Bill
Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, near where Geek Alabama is based, has proposed a bill that would allow teachers and/or principals to spend 15 minutes per school day to read opening prayers said before a meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. So far, this bill has passed a voice vote in the House Education Policy Committee, even though most members did not vote for it, how does that happen? And did the Alabama Legislature forget about the separation of church and state?
The bill still has to pass both the House and Senate, and if it does pass and gets signed by the governor, Alabama is going to be using taxpayer funds to defend this law in court. Because several organizations have already said they will sue the state if this bill becomes law. The biggest problem I have with this, what if the prayer from Congress was a Muslim prayer,(it has happened before) would teachers in Alabama read it? And would students have a option to stay out of the classroom during the prayer? Yeah, I don’t see this bill passing. And that 10 commandments bill will also be challenged in court and lose as well.
HB 31 - Health Care Rights of Conscience Act
This bill would allow health care providers to refuse, perform, or participate in any medical health care service that violates their moral, religious, or ethical principles, but only if the health care service involves women’s reproductive systems. This almost sounds like that Arizona SB 1062 bill. Bill sponsor Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, says the bill is meant to protect healthcare workers from being forced to do anything against their religious beliefs. And no, this bill is not only about abortions.
Passage of this bill could result in hospital staff refusing to take part in ending a woman’s pregnancy during a miscarriage even if her health was at stake. Anyone in the health care profession could also refuse to participate in abortion, sterilization, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research. Good job legislature, pass a bill that could harm the health of a woman because it might violate someone’s religious beliefs. One has to ask this question, where is the outcry against this bill like that other bill in Arizona? And yes, I know about the other abortion bills in Alabama, and they are wrong!
Common Core Bill
Most states and schools in America have adopted the Common Core standards that were developed by the National Governors’ Association. But sadly, some conservatives out there believes these standards are leading towards a nationalization of public education. The real truth, business associations and state education groups have embraced the standards saying they will boost Alabama student performance. These standards are not a Federal takeover of education, these standards are to make sure students are ready for the real world after they graduate from high school.
Several legislators including Sen. Scott Beason, are sponsoring a bill to repeal the standards, which is a boneheaded decision. But some legislators like Sen. President Del Marsh, and Alabama Superintendent Tommy Bice, who I found out both read this blog, are working to make sure this bill does not see the light of day. I agree with what the Alabama School Board has said, why are people going after legislators to repeal Common Core. Why are these people instead going to school boards? Repealing Common Core will allow Alabama to become a joke when it comes to education.
Five welfare bills are quickly passing through the Alabama Legislature. One bill would require a drug test for anyone that has a drug conviction in the last five years and applying for TANF. Another bill would require someone to apply for three jobs before applying for TANF. Another bill would prohibit TANF funds from being used on alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, and psychic hotlines or at strip clubs and tattoo parlors. And another bill would prohibit fraud to receive public benefits. Although I support the first four bills, there is one bill I have a problem with.
State Senator Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, introduced a bill requiring welfare recipients to perform community service to receive their benefits. Later, the bill was changed that would prohibit the state from seeking waivers of work requirements for able-bodied adults under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, also called food stamps. So for someone like me, who has applied to over 500 jobs, been to 14 job fairs, and no one will give me a chance. I am screwed come October because I have to rely on Food Stamps to get by. Wonderful, this will be another expense my relatives will have to pay now. And I know I am not the only person in Alabama who will be affected by this.
General Fund Budget
Alabama does fund the Education Budget pretty well. But when it comes to the General Fund budget, the legislators treat it very poorly. The budget for this year is being boosted by $145 million borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund. And without extra funds, the budget for next year looks awful. And that is not good for a state that is trying to attract new jobs and recruit new industries. Without the proper support from state government, people will not think about moving to Alabama.
Let’s see, Alabama can’t fund their courts properly. The prison system is severely overcrowded and there is abuse in the women’s prison. And state employees are not being properly funded. So Alabama is going to have no choice but to look for new sources of funding. They are hoping Congress will allow Alabama to collect an internet sales tax. But why is Alabama not considering allowing a state lottery and gambling? Every state around Alabama either has a lottery or casinos. Alabama could become a tourist destination if gambling was approved, and taxes would not have to go up!
To sum things up, things are going so well in Alabama politics, the Alabama Republican Party Candidate Committee has rejected several candidates for not being Republican enough. That’s too funny! At least House Bill 141, that would keep the low-cost spay and neuter clinics, is going through the legislature, and I hope it passes!