Last week, Alabama's 2021 Legislative Session resumed after a week-long recess. We are hopeful, but one thing is overwhelmingly clear — we have a big fight ahead of us. Some of our top priority bills regarding criminal justice reform, voter rights, and LGBTQ+ rights appeared before our lawmakers for consideration. A brief synopsis of the bills and their current status are listed below:
The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, HB 1 and SB 10, seek to criminalize doctors who provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth and punish school officials who choose not to "out" them to their parents. While these are companion bills, HB 1 was amended to exclude psychologists from prosecution and passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on February 24, despite evidence that shows that withholding best-practice medical care to support trans youth can be life-threatening. It will now go to the Alabama House for a vote. Alabama lawmakers continue to pursue legislation that would harm our LGBTQ+ family and friends. We cannot allow the torment and prosecution of our Trans community.
Another anti-trans bill, HB 391, would prohibit K-12 schools from participating in, sponsoring, or providing coaching staff for athletic events that allow athletes to compete against athletes of a different biological gender, unless the event specifically includes both genders. HB 391 appeared before the House Education Policy Committee on February 24 and received a favorable report. It will be debated in the House on Tuesday, March 2, and if passed it will move on to the Senate.
Alabama's Habitual Felony Offender Act (HFOA), HB 107, has had a few setbacks but is still in play. After a brief delay in subcommittee, it was set to be reviewed on February 25 but subcommittee members requested more time for review. A recent report by the Sentencing Project showed 26% of the Alabama prison population is serving life with or without parole sentences of at least 50 years. By eliminating this "three-strikes" law, we can make more incarcerated individuals eligible for resentencing and reduce the population in Alabama's unconstitutionally overcrowded and violent prisons.
The Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections Committee heard from stakeholders both for and against HB 396, a bill which would permit "no-excuse" absentee voting in Alabama for eligible voters, last week during a public hearing and will vote on it this week. No-excuse absentee voting has been demonstrated to be extremely effective at making sure that all Americans who want to cast a ballot are able to do so. After record-breaking turnout in 2020 and with the support of the Secretary of State, it would be a mistake to rollback voter access. All Alabamians deserve to have an equal opportunity to vote by absentee ballot.
Your support is critical right now! We need your time and your voice to advocate for the laws that would best serve all Alabamians