Amendment to Restrict Department of Justice from Enforcing Federal Marijuana Laws
Observers expect a medical marijuana amendment to be offered and voted on this week (likely, Thursday, July 13, 2017) as part of the 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which determines the funding levels for numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Justice.
The amendment, previously known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, would significantly restrict the Department of Justice from enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have medical marijuana programs. The research is starting to catch up with the rhetoric and we need to keep the pressure on states through federal enforcement of laws.
Legislative Update - Week 13 (Last Week of the Session)
The Alabama Legislature adjourned for the last time during the 2017 Regular Session on Friday, May 19, but there is talk that a Special Session may be called sometime during the summer. During the last week of the session, the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) bill (HB354) was brought to the floor of the Senate TWICE, but both times there were enough people lined up to speak against the bill that it was carried over. Because State Senators were working to get last minute bills passed during the closing days of the session, they did not want to take up any bills that would require lengthy filibusters, so we were successful in stopping the DFS bill this year. We expect it to come back next year (or even during the Special Session, should one be called by the Governor). It is important for everyone to contact their House Member and State Senator during the current break in sessions and encourage him/her to oppose the DFS bill when it comes up again.
Besides being bad for the economy, an unnamed source has confirmed what we were already saying - that if Daily Fantasy Sports betting is legalized, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians will be able to force Alabama to sign a compact allowing them to open full-fledged casinos with Class III gambling (roulette, black jack, etc.) and possibly even opening new casinos around the state. Though an amendment was added to HB354 that stated this bill would not give Indians an opening for signing a compact with the state, it would not have mattered because the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Commission alone determines what constitutes Class III gambling and what would force a compact to be signed.
Several local Sunday alcohol sales bills passed this session. Some of those bills require only a vote of the city council or county commission without a vote of the people. Some, however, require a vote of the people. If your community needs help fighting a Sunday alcohol sale vote, please check out our website, www.alcap.com
for resources. I am also available to come to your community to lead a rally or share with church leaders.
One bill, HB353, passed both the House and Senate. This bill, known as the "Brunch Bill," would allow any municipality or county that currently has Sunday alcohol sales to move the start time from noon (or 1:00 p.m. in some locations) to 10:30 a.m. ALCAP opposed this bill, but we did manage to get an amendment that requires a vote of the people if Sunday sales were originally decided by a vote of the people.
HB277, the Daycare Bill, passed the House, but failed to pass the Senate. Because of the complexities and controversies surrounding this bill, I asked our legal advisor, Eric Johnston, to write a summary of what happened with this bill. You can click here
to read his synopsis.
Thank you for your prayers throughout the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature. As I have stated in the past, though I am a registered lobbyist, I am more accurately your missionary to the Alabama Legislature, sharing a biblical perspective on the issues with legislators and ministering to everyone who works in the Alabama State House.
We will continue to work on these issues throughout the summer and fall, and we will be giving more time to improving our school programs (American Character Builders) during this time. Your financial support is still needed. We are entering the summer months having received about $12,000 less than we had received by this time last year, so we desperately need your prayer and financial support. If you or your church have not given anything to ALCAP and/or American Character Builders, please consider sending a check for $100 today in order to help us through the summer.
You may also click here
to make an online donation.
Urgent! Call Your State Senator Today!
, the bill that will legalize Daily Fantasy Sports, is expected to be on the Special Order Calendar in the State Senate tomorrow (Wednesday, May 17). It is important and urgent for you to contact your state senator
and ask him/her to oppose HB354!
to read why this pro-gambling bill is so dangerous!
Legislative Update - Week 12
As the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature enters its final days, this past week was uneventful concerning the issues being monitored by ALCAP.
Several local Sunday alcohol sales bills passed out of committees and/or one or both of the two chambers, but most of the week was focused on the General Fund Budget and the Education Trust Fund Budget.
The House wasted two days this week on redistricting. The courts ordered that the redistricting plan passed in 2012 was unacceptable after African-American legislators protested that too much gerrymandering had occurred, so new district lines are being drawn and passed in both the Senate and the House. A House member called for a complete reading of the bill that details the redistricting plan for the House districts, and since the bill is over 500 pages, it took the reading machine several hours on Tuesday and almost 12 hours on Thursday to read through the entire bill. The House then voted at 9:50 p.m. Thursday night to pass the legislation. They spent the remainder of the evening (until adjournment at midnight), voting on other bills. Each bill was filibustered and they had to vote to cloture each filibuster.
The Senate was a little more active, but no ALCAP-monitored bills were debated. We are concerned that this upcoming week (the last week of the session) may see the Daily Fantasy Sports bill (HB354
) being brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Please contact your State Senator
before Tuesday and ask him/her to vote NO on HB354 if it comes up for a vote.
We are also waiting for HB277
, the "Child Care Bill," to come to the Senate for debate. The bill has been amended so that it provides protections for children while also protecting religious freedom for churches, so we are now encouraging passage of the amended bill.
The leadership in the House and Senate have said that they may end the session on Thursday, but they reserve the option of coming back on Friday if necessary. The Constitution limits the legislature to 30 legislative days within a 105-day period, but they are not required to meet for 30 days.
Continue to pray for our legislators and Governor Ivey during this last week of the 2017 Legislative Session.
Legislative Update - Week 11
House Bill (HB) 24
, the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo and Sen. Bill Hightower, was finally signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey thanks to the prayers, the contacts and the encouragement of many of you in our ALCAP family! This bill will protect faith-based adoption agencies from being forced to place children in homes that do not comply with the religious beliefs of the agencies.
For more information on all of the pro-life bills that were supported by ALCAP, click here
to read a report from ALCAP's legal advisor, Eric Johnston.
, the Daycare Bill, sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week with some positive amendments. Click on the following links to read both amendments: Amendment 1
; Amendment 2
. This bill will now go to the full Senate for a vote. If it passes, as amended, it will have to go back to the House for concurrence. We hope that the bill will pass and be signed into law by Gov. Ivey. The bill will protect children, while maintaining the religious liberty of churches. We are grateful for everyone who has worked on this bill.
, the Sex Education Bill, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd, has passed out of committee, but has not been brought to the full House for debate. This bill originally contained language that was of great concern to ALCAP, but legislators on the committee amended the bill to remove the most problematic language. As the bill currently stands, it simply removes language concerning the illegality of homosexual relationships (since the Supreme Court's ruling in the Obergefell Case) and updates the terminology now in use in the medical and scientific community. The bill does not require that sex education be taught, but only gives guidelines to use if it is taught.
, the Daily Fantasy Sports Bill, sponsored by Rep. Alan Boothe, having passed the House a couple of weeks ago, passed out of the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee this week. It can be placed on the calendar for debate in the Senate at any time, but with only six legislative days left in this session, we hope that other important bills will take precedence. However, since big companies are driving this legislation in states throughout the nation, they will probably push for passage up until the last day of the legislature.
We have asked a number of Senators to filibuster and/or, at least, not vote to cloture a filibuster so that we can keep this bill from passing. It only requires a simple majority to pass, even though ALCAP contends that since Daily Fantasy Sports is gambling, it should require two-thirds of each house and be a Constitutional Amendment for the people of Alabama to vote on.
I ask that you contact your State Senator
as soon as possible and urge him/her to vote "NO" on HB354
. If this bill passes, it could open the door for full-fledged Class III (casino) gambling in Alabama! Do not delay; call or email today!
Several local Sunday alcohol sale bills have been introduced. I would urge you to contact your local legislators,
as well as county and city officials, and ask them to stop pushing for Sunday alcohol sales in your community. One bill, HB353
, sponsored by Rep. Juandalynn Givan, will allow county and municipal leaders to move the start time for Sunday alcohol sales from noon (or 1:00 p.m. in some communities) to 10:30 a.m. We did manage to get an amendment added that requires a vote of the people if the original Sunday alcohol sales decision was made by a referendum, but if this bill passes, the expansion of alcohol in our state will continue with no regard to the families and individuals who are hurt by it.
Please keep praying for the ALCAP ministry. We continue to have financial needs and with the summer months approaching, when receipts are typically down, we need your financial support
more than ever!
Governor Ivey Signs HB24
Great news! Because of your prayers, phone calls and emails, Governor Ivey signed HB24, the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, into law without an executive amendment! Governor Ivey signed the bill on Wednesday, May 3.
Thank you for taking action to insure the religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies in Alabama!
Contact the Governor's office:
It is Urgent That You Contact Governor Ivey
The following email is from ALCAP's legal advisor and director of the Southeast Law Institute, Eric Johnston...
Begin forwarded message:
This is a request for immediate action. HB24,
Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, has passed both the House and Senate with a wide majority. It has gone to Governor Ivey for signature. However, she intends to add an unnecessary and superfluous amendment.
This may cause later interpretation problems with the law, or it may slow down the process enough (it must go back to the House and Senate for concurrence) that the Session will end and the bill will die.
This bill protects church and religious operated state licensed adoption agencies from being required to make same sex adoption placements in violation of their religious beliefs based on scriptural marriage. With the 2015 Obergefell SCOTUS opinion legalizing same sex marriage, regulations are expected requiring same sex marriage placements. Already in Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, DC and San Francisco, Christian adoption agencies have closed.
Adoption is an important alternative to abortion. We cannot afford to close down 30% of Alabama adoptions done by the affected agencies.
We have been opposed throughout the legislative process by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a heavily financed LGBTQ lobbying organization, abortion interests and others. Now, we are told that Google, AT&T and Apple are pressuring Governor Ivey to add the amendment.
This issue is about more that protecting innocent life, it is about the very essence of religious freedom. In committee, Christians were said to be intolerant and discriminatory. Our religious beliefs must be secondary to the rights of homosexuals.
This is our first confrontation in Alabama with the gay rights agenda. If we do not stand firm now, we will face increased opposition. Those organizations that oppose us because of what we believe, will coalesce and we will find we have little or no voice in protecting our values. Large corporations, gay rights advocates, abortion interests, gambling interests, and you name it, will be telling us how to live. Our sincerely held religious beliefs dictate against what they want.
We must contact Governor Ivey and tell her to protect the freedom of religion in Alabama, her churches and their members. She must sign the bill as it is. She must not add an executive amendment. She must do it now without delay.
Contact the Governor's office:
I urge you to circulate this email, contact your constituents, churches, other organizations and others requesting that beginning early Monday morning and continuing throughout the week , they contact Governor Ivey
with this message. Time is of the essence. Thank you.
Legislative Update - Week 10
Another busy week at the Alabama Legislature! Click here
for a report from the Southeast Law Institute's Eric Johnston, ALCAP's legal advisor, concerning HB277
(the daycare licensing bill) and HB440
(the Youth Residential Prevention Act).
In addition to these bills, HB354
(the Daily Fantasy Sports gambling legalization bill), which passed out of the House of Representatives last week by a narrow margin of only 5 votes, was in the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee on Wednesday of this week. The chairman, Sen. Del Marsh, allowed for a public hearing on the bill and ALCAP was able to address our concerns with this pro-gambling bill. A lawyer representing the largest Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) companies, FanDuel and DraftKings, tried to counter ALCAP's comments, but fell short and actually reinforced the facts presented by ALCAP. The chairman agreed to postpone a vote of the committee until next week. Please contact members of the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee
before Wednesday, May 3, and ask them to vote NOT to give the bill a favorable report. Then call your State Senator
and ask him or her to oppose HB354 (the Daily Fantasy Sports bill) if it comes to the full Senate for a vote.
The House, on Tuesday, passed HB353
(the "Sunday Brunch Bill"). This bill will allow any county or municipality that currently has Sunday alcohol sales to begin selling alcohol at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings instead of noon or 1:00 p.m. (as some local ordinances currently allow). One problem with this bill is that, while some counties and municipalities were able to get Sunday alcohol sales with a simple vote of the local governing authorities, many required a vote of the people. Some of the counties and municipalities that had a vote of the people did so in the form of a constitutional amendment. If your area passed Sunday alcohol sales by a constitutional amendment, HB353 does not apply to you because a statute cannot override a constitutional amendment. But, some counties and municipalities passed Sunday alcohol sales by a referendum (not a constitutional amendment). These counties and municipalities could have been impacted by this bill because it would allow their local governing bodies to override the vote of the people. However, Rep. Steve Clouse managed to get an amendment to the bill that would prevent county and municipality officials from moving the start time to 10:30 a.m. if their local ordinance had been passed by a referendum of the people.
(the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo) protects child-placing organizations that have certain religious requirements from having to place children with couples that do not meet their agency's criteria. This bill passed the House and Senate, and has now gone to Governor Ivey's office for her signature. Governor Ivey has requested an executive amendment be added that we are currently studying. As soon as we know whether or not this amendment is acceptable, we will let you know the bill's status and if there is action you may need to take.
Continue to pray for the Alabama Legislature and Governor Ivey. There are only nine days left in the 2017 Legislative Session and the expected final day of the Session will be May 18.
Legislative Update - Week 9
It was a very busy week. On Tuesday, the House passed HB354
(the Daily Fantasy Sports Bill). There was a great deal of confusion on the floor during the proceedings. First, it was announced by the Speaker that the Budget Isolation Resolution (BIR) vote, which requires two-thirds of the members voting in order to pass, had failed. [NOTE: The BIR is a procedural vote that allows for bills to come to the floor for debate. Until the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund Budgets are passed, all other bills must receive a BIR vote. Once the budgets are passed, the BIR vote is no longer necessary.]
Before the next bill was brought up, Rep. John Rogers called for "Reconsideration." A vote on a particular bill (or procedural vote) can be "reconsidered" one time within 24 hours of the first vote. The vote to reconsider passed, so the House members voted on the BIR a second time. This time the BIR again failed to pass according to the numbers on the monitor. Then, after much deliberation around the Speaker's desk, the Speaker announced that the voting machine was not functioning properly and after checking the individual votes, they had determined that the BIR did actually pass, so HB354 was brought up for debate.
During the lengthy debate a couple of good amendments, presented by Rep. Mike Jones, were passed. We are concerned that those amendments, which place greater restrictions on the Daily Fantasy Sports companies may be stripped from the bill in the Senate. When the vote on final passage of the bill was taken, the bill only passed by a narrow margin of 5 votes. You can click here
to see how your House member voted.
HB354 now goes to the Senate. We need for a groundswell of people to contact their State Senator and encourage him/her to OPPOSE HB354.
To understand how dangerous this online gambling bill is (even though proponents argue that it is not gambling), you can click here
to read what Stop Predatory Gambling has written about this deceptive enterprise. You can also click here
to watch the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) documentary, Frontline, from 2016 about Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Forty-three minutes into the documentary, the producers interviewed a young man from Auburn, AL, Josh Adams, who lost $20,000 playing DFS. You can also read the New York Times story about Josh Adams by clicking here
Another bill, HB277
, sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren, would have required church daycares to be licensed by the Department of Human Resources (DHR) and meet all of that department's minimum standards in order to operate. While everyone agreed that we want to protect the safety of children, many churches felt that this government intrusion into local church ministries was unnecessary. The problem that this bill was intended to address was "pop-up" daycares that were using the name of a church to avoid having to be licensed by DHR and then applying for federal and/or state assistance in order to make money. A compromise bill was presented on the floor by Rep. Jim Carns that will both protect children and protect the religious freedom of churches. Basically, the agreement was that daycares receiving government subsidies must be licensed whether they are a church or not. Also, DHR may do an annual inspection of all church daycares to make sure that children are being safely cared for. We are grateful to many who helped in reaching this compromise, but especially Eric Johnston (Southeast Law Institute and ALCAP's legal advisor), Robin Mears (executive director of the Alabama Christian Educators Association), Melanie Bridgeforth (executive director of VOICES for Alabama's Children) and all the legislators who worked hard to negotiate this agreement. Special thanks should go to Rep. Warren for bringing this important issue to everyone's attention.
To read the vote counts on HB277 and to see how your House member voted, click here
. To read the final version of the bill, click here
. The bill now goes to the Senate. We will keep you informed of any changes that might be made to the bill.
(the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act), sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo, passed the Senate on Tuesday with one amendment, and now must go back to the House for concurrence (which we expect to take place on Tuesday, April 25). This bill protects church-affiliated adoption agencies from being required to place children for adoption in homes that do not comply with their religious views.
Three pro-life bills also passed the Senate on Thursday: HB96
(the Assisted Suicide Ban Act), sponsored by Rep. Mack Butler; HB95
(the Health Care Providers Protection Act), sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney; and HB98
(the "Alabama's Commitment to the Right to Life Constitutional Amendment"), sponsored by Rep. Matt Fridy [NOTE: HB98 is a constitutional amendment which will be on a statewide ballot in order to be ultimately approved by the voters of Alabama]. We celebrate the passage of HB24 and all three of the pro-life bills!
Legislative Update - Week 8
Rather than reporting on the past week (I'm not sure I can add anything to the news of the Governor's resignation), I want to focus attention on one bill that is on the Special Order calendar in the House next Tuesday, April 18. House Bill (HB) 354
is the second bill on the calendar. This bill, by Rep. Alan Boothe, will legalize online gambling in Alabama in the form of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).
Proponents argue that it is not gambling, but a game of skill. However, many, including casino owners in Las Vegas, have stated that it IS gambling. DFS is not season-long, league play between friends and family. Rather, it is big business in which big companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel will be the biggest winners. Players compete against hundreds of thousands of people around the world and can play on a daily basis.
We need for church members and pastors to contact their House Members
in large numbers! If you can come to the Alabama State House on Tuesday and speak to your House Member personally, please do so!
To read the facts about Daily Fantasy Sports, click here
. Click here
for a PBS documentary on Daily Fantasy Sports. To find your House Member's contact information, click here
PLEASE HELP US STOP THIS PRO-GAMBLING BILL!
Legislative Update - Week 7
After two weeks of spring break, legislators returned to Montgomery on April 4. We are now half way through the session and so far, none of the pro-gambling bills have been advanced. We continue to hear that everyone is waiting for the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (Gambling) to make its report before proceeding with any gambling legislation. We expect that report to be ready by mid-April, which may be too late for any gambling bills to get passed during this session.
Having said that, the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) gambling bills have already passed out of committees in both the House (HB354
) and Senate (SB270
), but have not been placed on the calendars of either house for full floor debate. The Senate leaders have indicated they will not address this issue until the House passes a DFS bill, so we are watching the House very carefully. We will let you know if any movement takes place, but feel free to contact your House member and State Senator any time and let them know of your objection to these bills.
that requires church daycares to be licensed by the Department of Human Resources (DHR) continues to be undergoing "behind the scenes" negotiations. While everyone wants to protect children, there is also a concern about protecting the religious freedom of churches. We hope to be able to report that a compromise has been worked out before the bill is placed on the calendar in the House.
Marijuana legalization/commercialization is not moving in the legislature, but it has become a "hot topic" on social media and in the secular media in Alabama. Churches need to begin equipping themselves for this growing issue. ALCAP
and our educational program, American Character Builders
, have resources you can use to educate your church members on this issue. Sadly, even many church members are beginning to argue that people should be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes. We are quickly approaching a cultural mentality not unlike that of ancient Israel as described in the Book of Judges, "Every man did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6
The pro-life bills passed in the House before spring break are currently making their way through the Senate. As soon as we know what day the Senate will take up these bills, we will let you know.
It is expected that this coming week the House will spend much of its time engaged in the impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley. Be in prayer for everyone involved in this issue. Pray for Governor Bentley and his staff. Pray for the House members as they seek to make the right decisions. Pray for the senators, if they are called on to try the impeachment case. Pray for Lt. Governor Kay Ivey and her staff in the event she assumes the duties of the Governor. Pray for our state as we all struggle through this serious issue.
Gambling or skill? Alabama lawmakers ponder whether to turn fantasy sports into a reality
By John Sharp
March 22, 2017
Is fantasy sports gaming a battle of wits and smarts that's worthy of free-market protection? Or is it just dolled-up digital gambling that deserves being outlawed? Josh Adams, following the debate in Montgomery from 50 miles away, can speak to the questions as well as anyone in the country.
Adams, 38, who lives in Auburn, is already nationally known for his views on the matter.
In the past two years, both the New York Times and the PBS show "Frontline" have come to talk to Adams, a recovering gambling addict, featuring him in deeply-reported stories about fantasy sports gaming and the risky obsessions associated with it.
"I want people in Alabama to be able to play daily fantasy sports," Adams, who works for an entertainment production company in Opelika, said in an interview this week with AL.com. "Most people can play responsibly."
And for people who can't play responsibly, like himself, Adams insists that the industry owes them forthright warnings to stay away, and to tell them where to find help.
In the Legislature, three bills are in play to legalize daily fantasy sports gaming by Alabama players. And the brains-vs.-luck debate is well under way.
"To me, I don't see it as the same type of gambling that I've been opposed to in the past such as the casino-type of gambling," said Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, who is sponsoring one of the bills. "It's about the skills of picking teams that are playing once a day or a couple times a week."
Countered Joe Godfrey, executive director of Alabama Citizens Action Program - an organization funded by Alabama churches that opposes gaming of any kind: "It's nothing more than online casinos. They say it's all skill. It's not."
Legislative Update - Week 6
This week in the Alabama Legislature might be one of the most significant weeks in recent years! Most weeks during the Regular Session there are only two legislative days, plus a day or two of committee meetings. This week there were three legislative days, and on the last day, the Alabama House of Representatives passed the following four important pro-life bills:
(sponsored by Rep. Matt Fridy) is a constitutional amendment that the people of Alabama must approve. If passed by the Senate and by the voters on a state-wide ballot, this amendment will constitutionalize Alabama's commitment to the right of life of unborn children.
(the Health Care Rights of Conscience Act, sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney) will protect health care providers who decline to perform services that violate their consciences. There are exceptions included in the legislation.
(the Assisted Suicide Ban Act, sponsored by Rep. Mack Butler) will make it illegal for individuals or health care providers to provide aid in dying under certain conditions.
(the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo) will prohibit the state from discriminating against child care service providers under certain conditions.
Now these bills must go to the Senate for a vote. As a constitutional amendment, HB98, if it passes the Senate will not go to the Governor's desk, but will go directly on a future ballot for the people of Alabama to decide. The other bills, if they pass the Senate, will go to the Governor for his signature. Please call your State Senator
and ask him/her to vote YES on all four of these bills.
In other news, HB277
(sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren) has been carried over until various parties can work out a compromise that will both protect children and the religious freedom of churches. We will keep you posted as decisions are made.
(sponsored by Rep. Juandalynn Givan) did not receive enough votes to be brought to the floor of the House for a vote. This bill would have allowed alcohol to be sold on Sundays, beginning at 10:30 a.m. instead of the current time of 12:00 noon. ALCAP spoke against this bill in a public hearing and we are grateful that enough House members realized that this bill is not good for the people of Alabama. It can come up again, but only after both the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund Budgets have passed both houses (which doesn't usually happen until near the end of the legislative session).
Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support of ALCAP. Please call your legislators
and thank them for their votes on the pro-life bills. We hope to have the voting record for each pro-life bill at a later date..
Legislative Update - Week 5
Week #5 of the Alabama Legislature was one of the busiest so far this 2017 Session and there is much to report, but before I do, I want to share with you important information about this upcoming week. Thursday, March 16, 2017, has been designated as “PRO-LIFE DAY” at the Alabama Legislature. On that day, the House of Representatives will be working to pass several important pro-life bills.
We are coordinating with House leadership, to have a presence inside the statehouse. We need as many people as possible to be there that day. People need to call on their House member
and sit in the gallery or overflow rooms to watch the debate. We do not yet know what time the House will begin. We will let you know as soon as they set the time. The day is likely to be long, so people need to come anytime they can, they do not need to be there all day. Please alert everyone in your database and in your church to this event and follow up. We need to show the House we respect their willingness to move these pro-life bills. This may be the most important day of the session. If we do not make a good showing, it will damage our cause. Thank you for you help.
This past week ALCAP was able to present information on Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) online gambling to two different committees. The Senate committee indicated they will not act on the bill until it passes the House. The House committee did not vote to send their version of the bill to the full House on the day of the public hearing, but we anticipate that they will do so, possibly next week. It is important for everyone to let their House member and state Senator know that they oppose this legislation. If you have not already contacted your legislators
about the Daily Fantasy Sports online gambling issue, please contact him or her as soon as possible. For more information on DFS, watch the documentary from PBS
and click here
for the Stop Predatory Gambling’s white paper on the subject.
A bill that would lower the penalties for marijuana use in Alabama was scheduled to have a public hearing, but the sponsor, Rep. Patricia Todd, was ill, so that public hearing has been postponed. ALCAP did speak at a public hearing on a bill that would allow Sunday alcohol sales in municipalities and counties where it is legal to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings instead of the current 12:00 noon start time. Having alcohol available only six days a week is not enough, and now, apparently, waiting until noon to start selling it on Sundays is not enough! (Of course, I’m being facetious!) With no regard for the destructive nature of alcohol, “ Big Alcohol” will not be satisfied until unlimited alcohol (a mind-altering and addictive drug, mind you) is available 24/7 and in every square inch of the state of Alabama. And, consider this: The same will happen with marijuana and gambling. Whenever we “give in” to these addictive “products,” they always want more! And, who
suffers? — We all do, but especially families and children!
We had hoped to work out a compromise on HB277 that would protect children, while also protecting religious freedom and the separation of church and state. HB277 would require church day cares to be licensed by the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR). When Eric Johnston, our legal advisor, and Robin Mears, executive director of the Alabama Christian Educators Association, met with the VOICES for Alabama's Children representatives and others, no compromise was reached. Though our representatives worked in good faith to solve the problem, some on the other side were unwilling to negotiate in good faith. However, our recommendations have been taken to the legal department of DHR and we are awaiting their response. We hope they will agree with our propo
sals and we can solve this dilemma. However, if they do not agree, ALCAP will join other groups in opposing HB277. We will keep you updated as this process continues.
I beg you to be engaged in our culture! Know what is going on in your own community, as well as the state and national level. Stand up and speak out for everything that is good and
right, and oppose the forces of evil around us. God has called His people to be “salt & light!”
At our annual ALCAP Board meeting on Tuesday of this past week, we presented former state Senator, Hank Erwin, with this year’s "ALCAP Dan Ireland Salt & Light Award.” We are grateful for Sen. Erwin’s service to our state and, since leaving the legislature, his efforts to promote the family-values motion pictures produced by his two sons (such as “October Baby,” “Mom’s Night Out,” and most recently, “Woodlawn”).
Help ALCAP Generate Calls in Opposition to HB364
House Bill (HB) 354
, Daily Fantasy Sports Bill, sponsored by Rep. Alan Boothe, will be in the House State Government Committee this Wednesday, March 8, at 3:00 p.m., in the State House Room #429.
To read about the dangers of Daily Fantasy Sports, click here
for a report from Stop Predatory Gambling
. Click here
for a PBS documentary on Daily Fantasy Sports. Please share this info with others and call your state legislator's today!!!
Legislative Update - Week 4
On Wednesday, March 1, the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee was supposed to hold a public hearing on SB28
(sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley) which would legalize internet/online gambling in the form of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). The meeting was cancelled and "rumor has it" that this bill is not the one that the DFS companies want. So, two new DFS bills have been introduced in both the Senate (SB270
, sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford) and in the House (HB354
, sponsored by Rep. Alan Boothe). This is not seasonal (or league) fantasy sports played between friends and family - this is DAILY Fantasy Sports, played by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, in which people often lose thousands of dollars every day! DFS, if legalized, would essentially put a casino in the homes and on the mobile devises of every citizen in Alabama, including children and young people.
Last year, the Attorney General's office banned DFS from being played in Alabama and the Alabama House of Representatives could not get enough votes to pass the legislation to make it legal, but now the push to legalize it has been renewed. This push to legalize DFS is taking place in state legislatures across the nation because companies, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, stand to make millions of dollars by deceiving people into believing that they can be "big winners." States that have Class III gambling (lotteries and/or casinos) have either banned DFS or they have required the companies to meet the same standards as other forms of gambling, acknowledging that DFS is, indeed, gambling.
I would encourage you to watch the documentary, "The Fantasy Sports Gamble" on the PBS program, "Frontline," (produced last year) to learn more about the addictive nature of DFS. About 43 minutes and 15 seconds into the program, there is an interview with a young man from Auburn, AL who lost $20,000 playing DFS. You can click here to watch the documentary.
After watching the program, call your legislators
and let them know of your opposition to SB 28, SB270 and HB354. To read more about the dangers of DFS, click here
for a report from www.StopPredatoryGambling.org
Other pro-gambling bills are "on hold" until the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (Gambling) makes their final report and recommendations. We anticipate that the last half of the Regular Session (which will come after the first of April) will see a flurry of activity focused on gambling. Legislators are still telling me that the vast majority of people from whom they are hearing are in favor of legalizing a state-sponsored lottery. It is important that those who oppose state-sponsored lotteries and state-sanctioned casinos, as well as Daily Fantasy Sports online/internet gambling, contact their legislators
and get others to do the same.
On a different issue, ALCAP worked this week with the Alabama Christian Education Association's executive director, Robin Mears, and our own ALCAP legal advisor, Eric Johnston, to protect both children and religious freedom in this state. Rep. Pebblin Warren has introduced a bill (HB277
) that will require church daycare programs to be licensed by the state. We commend Rep. Warren for wanting to protect children and their parents from "fly-by-night" daycares that are being established in the name of "bogus" or "pseudo" churches, but we also want to protect legitimate churches from government overreach into the ministries of those local churches. Mr. Johnston and Mr. Mears believe there is a better solution to the problem than to require church daycare ministries to be licensed by the state. We are working with Rep. Warren and other organizations that are concerned about this issue to come up with a bill that will accomplish both goals.
Legislative Update - Week 3
This past Wednesday, several pro-alcohol bills were presented in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee (or as we kiddingly refer to it, "The Vice Committee"). Two of the bills were carried over, one of which would have allowed wineries to sell their product even though they were located in a dry county (on the condition that there is at least one wet municipality in the county, which means ALL dry counties, since every dry county now has at least one wet municipality). I met with the sponsor of the bill and explained that the reason municipal options were legalized was because rural citizens in these counties kept voting to "stay dry." Since wineries would be located in rural areas, this would be offensive to those living in these dry counties. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lynn Greer, decided to reintroduce his bill as a local bill that would only apply to a county in his district. If you live in Rep. Greer's district, you need to let him know
of your opposition to this legislation (which does not yet have a bill number).
The other alcohol-related bill that was carried over was a bill allowing wine tasting in grocery stores. Both the House bill and the companion Senate bill were carried over after representatives of the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board told the sponsors of the bills that the ABC Board could handle the situation by existing regulations without a new law being imposed.
Two other alcohol-related bills involved community developments. One of these bills (HB47
, sponsored by Rep. James Buskey) will allow a community development located in both a wet county and a dry county to sell alcohol at their restaurant, which will be located on the dry county side of the development. The other bill (HB57
, sponsored by Rep. Ron Johnson) will allow Sunday alcohol sales at a community development that is located in a wet county, but does not allow Sunday alcohol sales. ALCAP called for public hearings on each bill and we explained that in both cases, they were allowing for alcohol sales in an area and on a day that the people of those counties had not voted to allow. Both bills were given a "favorable report" in spite of our request for "NO" votes, and will now go to the full House for debate and a vote.
The Senate Health Committee gave a favorable report to SB145
, the Child Placing Inclusion Act, sponsored by Sen. Bill Hightower. This bill, if passed, will protect faith-based adoption agencies from being told by the government with whom they can or cannot place children for adoption. Though the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning) activists spoke out against the bill in the public hearing, the bill still received a favorable report and will go to the full Senate for a vote. The companion bill, HB24
, sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo, was given a favorable vote last week in the House Health Committee. Which ever version of the bill passes its respective house first will go to the second house for a vote. Let your legislators know
that you want a "YES" vote on HB24 and/or SB145, the Child Placing Inclusion Act.
Daily Fantasy Sports continues to be an issue that we believe is gaining momentum. Sen. Tom Whatley has already introduced SB28
that would legalize this form of internet gambling and we expect it to be in committee very soon. If you live in Sen. Whatley's district, let him know
of your opposition to SB28
(Daily Fantasy Sports). Josh Adams, an Auburn, AL resident is featured in a PBS documentary on Daily Fantasy Sports. Mr. Adams lost a large sum of money gambling through the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) online companies. If you know Mr. Adams personally, I would love to talk with him. Sen. Whatley told me that he, too, would like to talk with Mr. Adams. To view the documentary, click here
(Josh Adams' interview comes at the 43:15 point in the movie). To read more about the dangers of DFS, click here
for a report from www.StopPredatoryGambling.org
After the close of the legislative day on Thursday, February 23, the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (should be "Gambling") met once again. This time they heard from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians about what might be involved if the State should enter into a compact with the Tribe. During the discussion, it was interesting to note that Tribal leaders admitted that the difference between Class II bingo machines and Class III slot machines is negligible. This is what the Alabama Supreme Court has determined as true in several recent rulings, and that is why the so-called "electronic bingo machines" continue to be illegal in the State of Alabama. However, because the U.S. Department of Interior will not enforce the law that says Tribes cannot have any form of gambling not permitted by the state in which they are located, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians continues to operate their bingo/slot machines.
We will keep you informed as the Advisory Council continues its work. It's next meeting will be on March 9 and they will be hearing that day from lottery and casino operators and owners. We have been told that ALCAP will have an opportunity at the meeting after the next one (the date has not been decided) to present our case one last time.
Remember that we are engaged in a spiritual war and prayer is our most important weapon, so pray for us! But, also, remember that God may want to use you as an answer to prayer, so take action by contacting your legislators and letting them know where you stand on alcohol and gambling! (Click here to find your legislators and their contact information.)
Legislative Update - Week 2
The second week of the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature is now complete. House Bill 70 (HB70
), sponsored by Rep. Bill Poole passed out of committee and will go to the full House for a vote. This bill lowers the age of majority from 19 to 18 years, but it originally included an exception for tobacco products, which would remain at 19 years old. However, the original bill did not include an exception for alcohol. The sponsor agreed to offer a substitute bill with language that keeps the purchase, possession and/or use of alcoholic beverages limited to age 21 and above. We are grateful for Rep. Poole making sure that this correction was made before passing the bill out of committee.
Next week, the House Economic Development and Tourism (ED&T) Committee will hold public hearings on four alcohol-related bills and ALCAP plans to speak against each bill. HB47
will allow a community development that meets certain criteria to sell alcoholic beverages even though part of the development will be located in a dry county. According to the bill's sponsor, Rep. James Buskey, there was a mistake in last year's legislation and this bill simply corrects that error.
, sponsored by Rep. Ron Johnson will allow an already existing community/commercial development district that is located in a wet county, but one that does not allow Sunday alcohol sales, to have Sunday alcohol sales within the commercial district.
, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Greer, will make it legal for a winery to operate in a dry county that has at least one wet municipality. This is the most egregious of the bills in committee this coming week. Wineries are located in rural areas, and yet it is the rural populations of these dry counties that have voted not to legalize alcoholic beverages. "Big Alcohol" continues to force this mind-altering drug into the lives of individuals and families, even in areas where the citizens have voted NO to alcohol sales. Please let the members of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee know of your opposition to HB133! CLICK HERE
for a list of the committee members and their contact information.
, sponsored by Rep. David Faulkner, would allow tasting of wine and beer in grocery stores that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. That's all we need! People drinking and then driving out of the crowded grocery store parking lots with children in the area! Again, we urge you to contact the members of the House ED&T Committee
and urge them to oppose this bill, as well.
For now, gambling seems to be on the "back burner." As soon as the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (Gambling) completes its report, which could come before the end of the 2017 Regular Session, we expect a flurry of activity to get pro-gambling bills passed. We will keep you posted as events unfold.
Continue to pray for the legislators, lobbyists and staff of the Alabama Legislature.
Legislative Update - Week 1
All three of the bills (HB24
-Adoption-Rep. Rich Wingo; HB95
-Conscience- Rep. Arnold Mooney; HB96
-Suicide- Rep. Mack Butler) that are being backed by ALCAP and the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition (APLC) were reported out of the Alabama House Health Committee this week, after public hearings on each.
A third bill, not on the APLC agenda, making a public policy statement that Alabama recognizes the unborn, also passed. We are asking for a "Pro-Life Day" for all of the bills to come up on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives. Senator Bill Hightower has also dropped SB145
, on adoption, a companion bill to HB24, in the Senate. Other Senators should be dropping companion bills to the other pro-life House bills in the next few days. Please ask fellow pastors and church members to thank the sponsors and Rep. April Weaver, chairperson of the House Health Committee.
Pro-gambling bills appear to be on hold until the Governor's Advisory Council on Gaming (Gambling) makes its final report. We expect this to come before the end of the 2017 Session, though the deadline for the Council's report is not until after the session has ended. ALCAP will keep you updated as information becomes available. However, a Daily Fantasy Sports bill (SB28
), sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley, has been introduced and may begin to move through the Senate before the Advisory Council reports. This bill, if passed, would essentially legalize online gambling in Alabama. For more information on this issue, click here
for the document Daily Fantasy Sports Fact Sheet or visit the Stop Predatory Gambling website www.StopPredatoryGambling.org
Rep. Bill Poole introduced a bill that lowers the age of majority from 19 to 18 years of age. There was an exception made for tobacco that kept the purchase, use and possession of tobacco products at age 19 (the current law), but nothing in the bill clarified that the purchase, use or possession of alcohol would remain at the age of 21, as the current law states. ALCAP communicated our concerns about that with the bill's sponsor, and he is having the bill redrafted to include the appropriate language to keep alcohol use, etc. at the current age of 21 and above.
There are several Sunday alcohol sale bills being introduced. All of these are local bills and are being driven by city councils and county commissioners. It is important that pastors and church leaders contact your city council members, county commissioners and state representatives and senators
and urge them to oppose Sunday alcohol sales. Many of these bills will allow Sunday alcohol sales by a simple vote of the city council or county commission, without a vote of the people.
ALCAP offers congratulations to Alabama's own Jeff Sessions as our new United States Attorney General and to Luther Strange as Alabama's new U.S. Senator. Pray for these men and their families. Also, pray that God's will be done as a new Alabama Attorney General is appointed.
ALCAP Alert Dated 2/6/2017
Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) has pre-filed Senate Bill 28 (SB28
). This bill will legalize online gambling in the form of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).
Contrary to the arguments from the big DFS companies, this is Class III gambling, which may open the door for full-fledged casino gambling in Alabama.
Unlike regular fantasy sports, played by friends and family for the length of an entire season, DFS is played online around the world and an individual can lose thousands of dollars in one day! (For the facts on DFS, visit the Stop Predatory Gambling website
or click here
EDUCATIONAL UPDATE FROM THE SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE™, INC.
To: SLI Supporters
Date: November 2016
From: A. Eric Johnston
Re: An Advisory Council on Gaming?
On October 3, 2016, Governor Robert Bentley announced he was appointing an Advisory Council on Gaming. Among the reasons reported is that it was necessary to resolve ongoing disagreements over electronic bingo, to resolve disputes and controversy that have existed for years on gambling, to avoid selective enforcement of gambling laws, to settle a lack of consensus among the judiciary and determine best practices from other states. In the Governor’s wisdom, all of this needs to be reviewed and then presented to the people for a vote. In other words, the Governor is now working for gambling interests in this state and he expects the Council to advise a repeal of that provision in the Alabama Constitution which prohibits games of chance. In the process, the Governor will discover a new source of income for the state - taxation of the poor.
For those of us who have been involved in the gambling issue, the Governor’s approach is completely transparent. Possibly, he has been duped by the gamblers, but more than likely, he has chosen to work with them to legalize gambling on the pretext of resolving conflict in the state and increasing revenue.
The apparent genesis of this was the case of State v. $223, 405.86, et al. The trial court found there was selective enforcement of gambling laws. The Governor said there is a “quilt work of local constitutional amendments around the state.” He suggests this is the basis for the dispute which needs to be resolved.
As a matter of fact and law, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial court case. It has ruled consistently in a number of cases in recent years that it is only the gamblers who are attempting to perpetrate illegal slot machine gambling in the name of bingo who dispute our laws. The cases are not inconsistent and there is no dispute among the judiciary. The law is absolutely clear. The Supreme Court ordered on March 31, 2016, that once and for all law enforcement and gamblers should realize there is no question in the law and the law must be enforced. The Governor has ignored this finding.
The problem is, however, on September 5, 2015, Governor Bentley issued Executive Order 13 which told the Attorney General, who had been prosecuting cases statewide, to desist and allow local law enforcement to proceed. As a consequence of that action, Milton McGregor reopened VictoryLand on September 13, 2016. The local DA and sheriff refused to follow the Supreme Court’s instructions and have failed to investigate and prosecute clear criminal acts. It is a charade by the Governor to suggest that the operations in VictoryLand are questionable. In fact, he admitted they were illegal in a recent letter, joined in by the Attorney General, to VictoryLand.
The Supreme Court further ruled that Executive Order 13 has no effect on the Attorney General. It is his responsibility to enforce the laws. If local law enforcement refused to do so, it is incumbent on the Attorney General to do so. The only catch is that the Attorney General does not have the manpower, i.e., state troopers, to do the legwork necessary to enforce his investigation. The Governor has refused to provide that assistance to him.
So, you see, the Governor has found a way to thwart proper law enforcement of criminal activity in the state, while at the same time suggesting that a council is necessary to resolve these very difficult issues. It is complete fraud, deceit and subterfuge on behalf of the Governor. It works only to the benefit of the gamblers. We know from past legislative experience that the findings of this Council will result in the need to amend Alabama’s Constitution and to repeal its criminal gambling laws, while at the same time passing new laws to legalize gambling in the State of Alabama.
Perhaps, Governor Bentley does not believe the people in the state understand this. His very special “Council” will lead the way to broad, sunlit uplands of understanding. Such demagoguery by the morally failed leader of this state will lead only to a dark valley of deceit and crime which will injure not only individuals and families, but the moral fabric of the state.
Eagle Forum of Alabama
A. Eric Johnston
Southeast Law Institute
An 'advisory council' on gaming?
Guest Voices, www.al.com
October 20, 2016
By Eunie Smith, Eagle Forum of Alabama; Joe Godfrey, ALCAP; and A. Eric Johnston, Southeast Law Institute
On October 3, 2016, Governor Robert Bentley announced he was appointing an advisory council on Gaming. Among the reasons reported is that it was necessary to resolve ongoing disagreements over electronic bingo, to resolve disputes and controversy that have existed for years on gambling, to avoid selective enforcement of gambling laws, to settle a lack of consensus among the judiciary and determine best practices from other states.
In the Governor's wisdom, all of this needs to be reviewed and then presented to the people for a vote. In other words, the Governor is now working for gambling interests in this state and he expects the Council to advise a repeal of that provision in the Alabama Constitution which prohibits games of chance. In the process, the Governor will discover a new source of income for the state - taxation of the poor.
For those of us who have been involved in the gambling issue, the Governor's approach is completely transparent. Possibly, he has been duped by the gamblers, but more than likely, he has chosen to work with them to legalize gambling on the pretext of resolving conflict in the state and increasing revenue.
The apparent genesis of this was the case of State v. $223, 405.86, et al. The trial court found there was selective enforcement of gambling laws. The Governor said there is a "quilt work of local constitutional amendments around the state." He suggests this is the basis for the dispute which needs to be resolved.