High profile bills to be discussed in legislative session

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 10:43 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) -The Alabama Legislature is kicking off day seven of the legislative session with highly discussed bills.

The Alabama Legislature took last week off to set priorities for the next two weeks because some of the most talked-about bills are going to be coming up one after another.

We’re expecting debates on the bill that may finally bring a lottery to Alabama. This has been a hot topic for decades, but it’s closer than ever to becoming a reality.

This bill would establish a state lottery, divide the state into gambling territories, create 5 casinos and expand operations at 3 existing facilities run by the Poarch Creek Tribe.

In the past, these bills failed because no one could agree where the money would go.

This bill would set aside lottery money for scholarships, the casino tax revenue would pay for broadband expansion in rural areas, mental health care, and rural health and infrastructure.

Alabama State Representative Rex Reynolds says the bill is nowhere near being ready.

He needs to see a final product before he can commit.

“I would like to see an enforcement division listed under the gaming commission in Alabama from day one if the citizens vote this bill in. So we will be having that conversation this week,” says Reynolds.

Del Marsh is expected to have a substitute bill this week.

Democratic State Representatives were unable to comment on this.

Another hot topic expected to be debated this week is the legalization of medical marijuana.

Senator Tim Melson is the sponsor of the bill and it would provide a strict protocol for the prescription of medical cannabis products as well as growing and processing it around the state.

It will not be what we’ve seen in other states, which is basically a note from a doctor that will allow you to smoke marijuana. Alabama would only allow capsules and oils containing cannabis.

State Representative Rex Reynolds says he still has a lot of concerns with 35 years in law enforcement under his belt, but he adds that he has had many voters in his district send him letters about how medical cannabis use has changed their life.

On the other side, State Representative Anthony Daniels says he is absolutely for the medical marijuana bill.

“I am for that. I think it will not only generate opportunities for small businesses to get into the business, but it also will serve as health, " says Daniels.

“Something to help those individuals with various illnesses that have been scientifically proven and evidence-based. So I am for that.”

Efforts to legalize medical marijuana have made progress in Montgomery before, only to be put on the back burner or fail at the last minute.

WAFF is keeping up with these bills to let you know the latest on their status.

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