By T.W. Bigler –
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Republicans in control of the state legislature wasted taxpayers money again last week by holding hearings on social issues only of concern to the Christian Right that have nothing to do with what government is supposed to do: contraception, abortion and drug testing recipients of public assistance.
The Religious Liberty Act of 2013, known as the Hobby Lobby bill or HB108, would exempt “religiously motivated” employers under a certain size from providing contraceptive coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Sponsored by Republican Rep. Lynn Greer of Lauderdale, it passed in the House and now awaits action in the Senate.
This would go beyond churches and apply to any legal entity with less than 10 members, such as Hobby Lobby — a family-owned business known for religious quackery.
A public hearing was also held for the Women’s Health and Safety Act, HB57, sponsored by Republican Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin of Indian Springs. It passed the state House and awaits action next week in the state Senate Health Committee.
Opponents’ say the measure could force closure some of the last five abortion clinics in the state.
Rep. McClurkin, who says she is “a committed opponent of legalized abortion,” says the bill is for safety standards and denies that she aims to force the clinics to close.
The Senate brought up SB191, a bill that would allow drug testing of recipients of public assistance “upon reasonable suspicion of drug use.”
The controversial measure has been initiated in other states by Republicans looking to appease a conservative base.
A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta found a similar Florida law unconstitutional just the day before the committee hearing. The court said that simply having financial problems does not prove someone is “drug-addicted or prone to fraudulent and neglectful behavior.”
Opponents claim that in addition to violating Fourth Amendment rights, such laws may cost more to implement than they save in benefit payments.
The bill was sponsored by Senators Pittman, Orr, Williams, Sanford, Taylor, Fielding, Allen, Bussman, Waggoner, Beason, Brewbaker, Glover, McGill, Dial, Marsh, Ward, Whatley, Reed, and Scofield.
VictoryLand Greyhound Park remains closed after a raid by Attorney General Luther Strange on Tuesday February 26. He obtained a warrant order from the state Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roy Moore, a known religious nut, when a Marion County judge resisted for lack of probable cause.
Strange insists that the eBingo machines equate with slot machines, and are therefore illegal. He’s asked the court to have the machines destroyed.
Meanwhile, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ casinos are reporting record growth which will likely continue despite a similar lawsuit aimed at them. The tribe released a statement calling the lawsuit “yet another example of Mr. Strange refusing to recognize the sovereignty of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.”
© 2013, T.W. Bigler. All rights reserved. The Locust Fork News-Journal, LocustFork.Net