A look at what passed and failed in the Alabama ’23 Session

Alabama lawmakers on Tuesday concluded the 2023 Legislative Session. Here is a look at some of the major bills introduced this year and what passed and what failed.

What passed:

Reduced sales tax on food

Alabama lawmakers approved a reduction of the 4% state sales tax in food. The tax will drop by 1% in September. It will drop another 1% the following year, provided the Education Trust Fund grows by 3.5% to offset the loss to education funding.

Tax rebates

The legislation gives one-time tax rebates of $150 to single people and $300 to married couples.

Transgender athlete ban

Alabama lawmakers extended an existing ban on transgender athletes on K-12 sports teams to include college sports teams.

Organized crime legislation

The legislation will give sentence enhancements and mandatory minimums for crimes committed as part of a criminal enterprise.

New Statehouse

The legislation authorizes the Legislative Council, a 20-member panel that consists of legislative leaders and appointed legislator, to contract with the Retirement Systems of Alabama or another entity to build a new statehouse.

Scholarship expansion

Alabama lawmakers approved an expansion of a scholarship program aimed at helping low- and moderate-income students attend private schools.

Panhandling

The new law would prohibit someone from loitering beside a state highway. A first offense would be a violation, and second offense would be a misdemeanor. The legislation was approved after a federal judge struck down the state’s existing law against panhandling.

Economic incentives

Lawmakers approved a package of economic incentive legislation, including a renewal of the Alabama Jobs Act, the state’s primary economic recruitment tool that gives tax credits for capital investments and payroll rebates for job creation.

Overtime tax exemption

A worker’s overtime pay would be exempt from the 5% state income tax beginning in tax year 2024. The exemption will end in the middle of 2025 unless extended by lawmakers.

Fentanyl penalties

The legislation sets harsher penalties for trafficking fentanyl — with punishments of up to life imprisonment — as lawmakers try to respond to the deadly overdose crisis.

Pandemic relief funds

Lawmakers in Special Session approved a plan to use $1 billion in federal coronavirus funds largely on a mix of water and sewer infrastructure, broadband internet expansion and reimbursements to health care providers.

The legislation extends the existing ban on texting and driving to prohibit someone from holding a cellphone or other mobile devices while driving under certain circumstances. The legislation includes exemptions for emergencies and other reasons.

What failed: 

School vouchers

Proposals to give parents $6,900 in public money through education savings accounts to pay for private school and home school expenses stalled amid opposition.

Abortion ban exceptions

Democratic-sponsored legislation that would add exceptions for rape and incest to Alabama’s existing abortion ban did not get a vote.

Divisive concepts

The ban on teaching of so-called “divisive concepts” about race and gender in public classrooms and state worker diversity training did not reach final passage.

Statute of limitations/sex abuse lawsuits

Legislation to give victims of childhood sex abuse more time to sue their abusers stalled in a committee.

Other anti-LGBTQ bills

Bills that would ban drag shows where children are present or limit who is considered a man or a woman did not get a floor vote.

First grade readiness

Legislation backed by the Governor that would require students to attend kindergarten or demonstrate they are ready for first grade stalled in the Alabama Senate.

Criminalizing absentee ballot help

Legislation that would make it a felony to help a non-family member fill out an absentee ballot did not get a vote in the Senate.

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Republished with permission from The Associated Press.




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