Political analyst: Alabama Legislature’s 2019 sets the stage for big changes

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -  The Alabama Legislature's first act in 2019 -- passing a 10 cents per gallon gas tax -- made the rest of its job easier, says WHNT News 19 political analyst Jess Brown.

"They’re going to see the big win as the gas tax, because they’re going to incur some debt and they’re going to build a lot of roads," Brown said. "If you think you've seen the little orange and white barrels, you're about to see a lot more orange and white barrels in Alabama on the roadways. And I think when you get around to legislative elections in roughly three years, voters generally don't mind if you build and repair roads and bridges."

Brown says he was surprised a lottery bill didn’t pass, but he pointed out Gov. Kay Ivey was never outspoken in support of a lottery.

"The lottery question, unlike the gas tax, she has remained, let me just say in the shadows," he said.

But the issue is far from over, Brown said.

"If there are lottery supporters who are disappointed, don’t worry, it’s coming back."

Brown expects a lottery to eventually be adopted in Alabama and possibly more gambling.

"In my view, Alabama may eventually have even some state-sanctioned casino gaming," he said.

The Alabama Legislature passed the most restrictive abortion measure in the country, making it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion. The law only would allow an abortion if the mother's life was in danger.

"I think legislators passing that bill that had no exceptions in it for rape and incest does put them at odds with public opinion, even in Alabama," Brown said.

He expects if there’s no court resolution on Alabama’s abortion law in the next two years -- a lawsuit challenging it has already been filed --  the exceptions may come up again.

"I can see them putting it back before they have to face voters in 2022," Brown said.

The veteran political watcher has been been surprised by the progress the idea of medical marijuana has made among legislators.

"There is more support in the Alabama Legislature for medical marijuana use than I ever thought I'd see," he said. "It's a major step. Ten years ago in Alabama, if you had touched the issue of medical marijuana as a Democrat or a Republican, you’d have promptly been voted out of office."

The Alabama Senate gave final passage to a medical marijuana study commission on Friday afternoon. The measure now goes to Gov. Ivey.



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