MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — During this week’s organizational session, Alabama lawmakers outlined some of the biggest issues they’ll aim to address in the upcoming legislative session.
At the forefront of several lawmakers’ minds is a bill to create harsher penalties for offenders who traffic fentanyl.
“It’s killing too many of our children. The thing about it is, they need to know that if they come in Alabama with fentanyl, they’re going to be punished to the highest extent,” Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter said.
Ledbetter expects the House will address this early on.
“We’ve already got the bill drafted. Chairman Simpson will have it. We will try to move it as quickly as possible,” Ledbetter said.
With those concerns, Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton thinks this could be the year his bill passes for a needle exchange program. It would provide free needles without penalty to drug users, as well as immunity for those issuing the needles.
“I believe the timing is right, right now. We talk about fentanyl and all the different drugs out there. This is the time to do with it to be able to aid and help with our drug problem that we have in the state of Alabama,” Singleton said.
Another issue comes in light of Alabama’s abortion ban taking effect last year after the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Democratic leaders say they’ll push for exceptions for rape and incest to the abortion law.
“I think it’s a long shot. But we’re willing to take the shot. We’re going to be the Steph Currys of the Senate. We’re going to try to bring that backup, put on those exceptions, and we’re going to be talking about prenatal care, postnatal care for women, which this state of Alabama does not provide,” Singleton said.
Republican lawmakers say they want to improve the state’s adoption process.
“We’ve got families in this state that would love to have these children. That process has been going on for some time to try to streamline it, so we’ll see when session starts, I think we’ll have a bill come out to hopefully give those kids the homes they deserve,” Ledbetter said.
A question that still remains is when lawmakers will hold a special session to allocate American Rescue Plan Act money. Leaders say it likely won’t be before the March session, and it could happen in the middle of it.