Alabama lawmakers push their bills’ passage before legislative session ends

Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 5:45 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lawmakers will gather in the capital city Tuesday for the final day of the legislative session. And a number of bills could make it to the governor’s desk, including one that would make kindergarten mandatory.

Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Lee County, said the goal of her bill is to make sure children are prepared for the first grade. She said the bill is a priority for Gov. Kay Ivey.

“She knows the issues that they’re having with these first graders. I mean, you just got to get out here and look and open your eyes and you’ll see that it is a problem,” said Warren.

The bill requires a child to complete kindergarten or prove they are ready for the first grade based on a test created by the state board of education.

“Social skills, physical skills. Has he ever colored a circle, colored a square. Has he ever cut paper out with hand scissors, and what they’re telling me there are kids who have never done these things that are showing up in the first grade,” said Warren.

This version passed the House. Its last hurdle to becoming a law is in the Senate, where there is opposition ..

“You think it’s all right to flunk them and they had no opportunity to get prepared to take this test. We have provided nothing for them,” said Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Jefferson County.

“You’re talking about kids that are coming in don’t know, ABC, 123,” said Warren.

Another bill on the brink of passing is Rep. Barbara Drummond’s legislation to prohibit people under 21 years old from buying vaping products.

“I’m looking out for the welfare and the health of young people,” said Drummond, D-Mobile County.

Retailers who violate the bill face at least a $500 fine.

“It’s going to pay for the enforcement side for ABC, as well as ALEA to be able to hire additional personnel and educate them because vaping is a lot different than tobacco,” said Drummond.

Drummond said she is positive her bill will pass, while Warren is unsure about the outcome of her first grade readiness bill.

Any bill that doesn’t pass Friday could come up again during next year’s legislative session.

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