Before the gubernatorial candidate debate and speeches, the Best Bill Awards for the House and the Senate were presented in the Alabama House of Representative chambers at the Alabama State House.
Rashim McKinney, vice president of development at Gibraltar Solomon, who presented the House Best Bill on behalf of the Montgomery Britton YMCA board of directors, said, “With the brainpower in this room, y’all could get our problems solved in two to three weeks.” He added that the Best Bills represent “great ideas, but also have to be practical.”
Marshall Long, an attorney on the Alabama Senate staff, who presented the Senate award on behalf of a selection committee, said, “We looked for bills that were creative, well written and important to our state.”
HOUSE BEST BILL
HB 2, the Heroes at Home Act, by Brody Ratliff and Alex Fisher, Trinity Presbyterian School / Montgomery, which over a four-year period, provides veterans with therapy, housing and training. This legislation was also part of the governor’s Special Order calendar, passed both chambers and was signed into law.
SENATE BEST BILL
SB41 by Reagan Chavers, Spain Park High School / Hoover, to end Alabama’s opioid epidemic by limiting the amount and duration of opioid prescriptions allowed, while setting penalties for physicians who overprescribe.
FIRST YEAR BEST BILL
The First Year Best Bill was announced during the closing ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 24.
FYB17 by the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act by Mary Raines Alexander, Mountain Brook High School, which calls for mandatory tracking of properties seized by the police in a statewide database that records possessions forfeited to allow items to return to the proper owner after an investigation.
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
Gov. Jared Shaffer signed 14 bills into law during the 71st Alabama YMCA Youth Legislature. These bills either passed both the Youth Legislature House and Senate or were approved by the members of the First-Year program. The bills that become law are:
- HB2, Heroes at Home (See House Best Bill)
- HB14, Legalize the Lottery by Sarah Beth Corona, Vestavia Hills High School, Birmingham (Governor’s Special Order)
- HB19, Reformation of the Alabamian Paper System by William Seitz and Nikki Pedicord, Vestavia Hills, Birmingham. Encouragement to shift from traditional paper milling processes to tree-free paper milling, i.e. straw and hemp-based (Governor’s Special Order)
- HB49, Alabama Water Management Act by Chloe Kinderman, Mountain Brook High School. Mandates a comprehensive and sustainable plan by the end of 2020.
- HB100, LGBTQ Education Act by Amal Gardner and Michelle Jenkins, Carver High School, Montgomery. Requires all Alabama high schools to teach about the LGBTQ community as part of sex education or health classes.
- SB14, An Act to Prevent Teenage Suicide by Julia Holmes, Vestavia Hills High School
- SB33, The Renewable Energy Advancement and Adoption Bill by Ben Harris, Mountain Brook High School
- SB36, Reforming the Alabama Prison System by Madeline Martin, Spain Park High School, Hoover. (Governor’s Special Order)
- SB51, Research and Experimentation Tax Credit by Brett Bonikowski, LAMP, Montgomery. (Governor’s Special Order)
- SB63, The Incarceration Reduction Act by Sofie Behr, The Montgomery Academy, which calls for repeal of the Habitual Offenders Act and compassionate release for elderly inmates.
- FYB7, Abolishing Solitary Confinement for Juveniles by Zachary Izer and Cody Harris, Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School
- FYB13, Pencils before Pistols by Will Nickolson, Vestavia Hills High School, Birmingham. Bans non-law enforcement officers from bringing firearms into a public school. (Governor’s Special Order)
- FYB20, The Tax Fairness Act by Jane Grey Battle, Mountain Brook High School, Birmingham. Exempts food with nutritional value from sales taxes. (Governor’s Special Order)
- FYB72, Stop Straight-Party Voting by Perry Courtney, St. Paul’s Episcopal School, Mobile.