Committees of independent judges with expertise in bill writing chose these bills as the best of the 2017 Youth Legislature session:
SENATE BEST BILL: SB61, The Alabama Drought Relief and Mitigation Act, by Justin Clay, Spain Park High School, Hoover – legislation to get Alabama out of its current Stage 4 drought and implement systems that will prevent future droughts and aid our environment.
- SB4, An Act to Create Majors in High School, by Sarah Chitty, Mountain Brook High School – requires all state funded high schools to provide a major for students to focus on throughout their high school years. After mentoring from parents, guidance counselors, and teachers, students will choose one out of the 16 career clusters at the end of their eighth grade year. Once entering the 10th grade, students will narrow down their focus by selecting academic majors within their chosen clusters.
- SB18, Rapists Aren’t Parents Act, by Cheyenne Hayes, Catholic High School, Montgomery – to deny or restrict custody or visitation parental rights of anyone convicted of sexual assault, which led to conceiving a child during the attack.
HOUSE BEST BILL: HB103, Supporting Our Students Scholarship for High Achieving Students, by Bailey Hope, Trinity Presbyterian School, Montgomery; and James Courtney, St. Paul’s Episcopal School, Mobile – Establishes scholarships for private and public school high school students to attend any postsecondary institution, public or private, in the state of Alabama. The SOS scholarships are to be funded through a state lottery. Signed into law.
Honorable mention: HB6, To Reform Alabama Tenure Law, by Katherine Price, Mountain Brook High School – Lengthens teachers’ probationary period from three years to eight years. After eight years, tenure can be awarded based on classroom effectiveness.
FIRST YEAR BEST BILL: FYB7, An Act to Create an Early Age Foreign Language Program in Alabama Schools, by Alison Gaston, Mountain Brook High School – To increase the state cigarette tax by an additional $0.07, raising the total statewide tax to $0.745 in order to generate $21 million for an Early Age Foreign Language program in Alabama public schools.
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
Gov. Ford Cleveland signed into law 20 bills, which either passed both the Alabama Youth Legislature House and Senate or were approved by the members of the First Year program. Besides HB103, the bills signed into law were:
- HB32, Fortification of the Fourth Amendment, by Julia Holmes, Vestavia Hills High School – Requires all public schools in Alabama to adopt the probable cause search standard.
- HB54, Mental Health Crisis Response Team Act, by Camp Spain, The Montgomery Academy – To establish by Jan. 1, 2019, a team of specialists to deal with emergency situations involving the mentally disabled or impaired.
- HB60, Alabama State Legislature Term Limits Bill, by Luckett Robinson, St. Paul’s Episcopal School, Mobile – Limits Alabama legislators to two terms.
- SB23, Abolition of Death by Electrocution Act of 2017, by Olivia Westfall, Vestavia Hills High School – Bans execution by electrocution in the state of Alabama as an option for the death penalty. Requires the destruction of any remaining electric chairs in Alabama prisons.
- SB45, Child First Adoption, by Grace Friedman, Spain Park High School, Hoover – No longer makes relatives have a longer waiting period than any other prospective adoptive parent.
- SB47 by Kenya Harris, Spain Park High School, Hoover – Prison reform including the repeal of mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes, the habitual offender law or “three strikes” law and truth in sentencing laws.
- SB46 by Claudia Hubbard, St. James School, Montgomery – Establishes levels of expulsion for Alabama college students. The level of expulsion will be listed on the student’s transcript.
- SB57, Boarding School In-State College Tuition Protection Act, by Anne Mitchell Welch, Mountain Brook High School – To receive in-state tuition at Alabama colleges, a boarding school student will have to have completed two or more years in any Alabama boarding school, one being their senior year.
- FYB3 by Lucy Bowling, Mountain Brook High School – Prohibits medical practitioners from subjecting minors to conversion therapy.
- FYB5 by Laura Hadley Bryant, Mountain Brook High School – Establishes a statewide lottery for Alabama public schools.
- FYB10 by Amanda Jones, Mountain Brook High School – reduces carbon emissions in Alabama.
FYB11 by Libby Kerr, Mountain Brook High School – bans smoking in cars with children under the age of 16.
- FYB12, PFOS and PFOA Water Protection Act, by Chloe Kinderman, Mountain Brook High School – Prohibits the dumping of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid into waterways and lowers the recommended levels of both chemicals from 70 parts per trillion to 40 parts per trillion.
- FYB17,The Second Chance Act, by Tate Record, Mountain Brook High School – Prison reform to require rehabilitation to better provide transition of released inmates into society. Social workers or prison workers will help the prisoner in his or her last six months with the aid of partnered charities, churches and nonprofit organizations. Prisoners will be taught basic life, financial and employment skills.
- FYB19, The Alabama Class Size Reduction Act, by Mark Waller, Mountain Brook High School – Requires schools that are in the bottom 50 percent of K-12 statewide public education to make all their classrooms have below 18 students by 2020.
- FYB32, Proportional Alabama Electoral Delegates, by Joe Higgins, St. James School, Montgomery – Changes the apportionment of electoral college delegates in Alabama from a winner-take-all system to a proportional system.
- FYB34 by William Robertson and Mac Main, The Montgomery Academy – Establishes a state lottery.
- FYB35, Medicinal Cannabis for Alabama MSAs, by Cyprian Dumas and Wilson Butler, Montgomery Academy – Lifts the ban on medicinal marijuana in Alabama and allows for the construction of government subsidized and regulated marijuana farms and processing plants to supply medicinal marijuana for the seven major combined statistical areas of Alabama. The purpose is to provide medicinal marijuana for hospitals to prescribe to patients.
- FYB37, District Arbiters and Removal of Zero Tolerance, by Trinity Streeter, Spain Park High School, Hoover – To reform public school code of conduct policies and provide school systems with a third-party arbiter for determining fair and adequate punishment when needed.
Photos of the bill signings can be found here.