The people's voice of reason

2024 Legislative Session Has Ended

The 2024 Alabama Legislative Session ended on Thursday, May 9.

It has been said and properly documented that no man’s life, liberty, or property is safe when the Alabama Legislature is in session. At this point, you can all rest easy.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware when the legislature is in session and what is being considered by those elected members while they are in Montgomery. According to the Constitution of the State of Alabama, the Alabama Legislature’s primary responsibility is to pass the budget that will allow our state to operate and to deliver the necessary services to provide the quality of life desired by the people of the greatest state in the union.

The legislature meets for 30 legislative meeting days within a 105-day calendar period. The year after the election for Governor, this session starts in March. In the two subsequent years, it begins in February, and in the gubernatorial election year, it begins in January. Therefore, next year’s legislative session will begin in February 2025.

You may wonder why, if the only responsibility that the members of the legislature have is to pass a budget, why they need to meet for so long, and why so many bills are filed, and so few are actually shepherded through the process to become law at the end of each session. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most notable is that there are individuals, groups of people, or special interests that would like to see changes in the code of Alabama or the Constitution of Alabama in order to dictate a change is important to that individual, that group, or that special interest.

Often times, many people think that trying to change a particular law is so difficult it is not worth the time or the effort to try and make a change. In many cases, they find their elected members of the House of Representatives or the Senate to be unresponsive to their requests. However, it should be noted that your personal opinion or attentiveness are important and can and do make a difference to these lawmakers when they are contacted.

In the middle of the 2024 legislative session, the Alabama Supreme Court rendered a decision that effectively halted IVF (invitro fertilization treatments), impacting thousands of families across the state of Alabama.

Citizens began calling on their state legislators and asking for immediate action to correct this ruling by the court.

In response to this overwhelming outcry, the members of the Alabama legislature swiftly passed legislation granting immunity to IVF treatment centers and healthcare professionals who are involved in this procedure. Legislators recognized the significance of this court ruling after they were contacted by their constituents, and this topic, which had not even been considered by an elected member in either chamber, became a top priority for members and leadership for each chamber. Subsequently, agendas were adjusted, other legislation was set aside, and within five legislative days (the minimum required for passing a bill), legislation was signed into law, and the House and Senate passed Senate Bill 159 to correct the injustice.

This change was made possible because citizens were paying attention to current events and subsequently made it known that they wanted something done to correct this situation. Our state legislators only convene for a few months out of each year. It is our duty as citizens of Alabama to be aware of issues they are considering and that we notify our state lawmakers of things that are important to us. These individuals are elected officials, and in that role, they work for you!

John H. Merrill served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010-2014 and as Alabama’s 53rd Secretary of State from 2015-2023.

This is an opinion column. Opinion columns are the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Alabama Gazette staff and publishers.


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