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“I’m tired of people in Montgomery telling people who aren’t in Montgomery how to live their lives and how to live.”

FOLEY – State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) visited the Common Sense Campaign on Tuesday to recap the victories and failures of the 2024 legislative session.

“One of the things I will say about this session is that it was a challenging session,” Simpson said. “We have set some very ambitious goals. We’ve addressed some major issues that have affected Alabama or have been an issue in Alabama for a long time, and we’ve tried to do the best we can do to at least address those issues. “

Simpson said the two main issues that dominated the session were gaming and ethics reform.

Gaming

Lawmakers made another attempt to pass a bill on casinos, lotteries and sports gambling, but it failed on a single vote. Simpson said he believed there were a lot of good intentions in drafting a bill this session.

“We don’t have (a lobbyist) to draft the bill,” he said. “They sat down and drafted the bill after going around the state.”

It is unclear whether the issue will be raised again next year.

“I either heard of my leads or I didn’t,” he said. “The Speaker has indicated that he has no interest in bringing it up again. This was one of those: ‘If you can fix it, fix it, but if you can’t, we’re not going to continue to have this .’

Although Simpson said he wants the people to vote, he said he is not pro-gaming.

“I’m tired of people in Montgomery telling people who aren’t in Montgomery how to live their lives and how to live,” Simpson added. “If you want to game, vote yes. If you don’t want to game, vote no, but let’s deal with this issue.”

The last time the people of Alabama voted on the issue was in 1999.

Ethics

Simpson was on the front lines of ethics reform during this session. He told the group Tuesday that ethics have always been a sensitive topic in Alabama, but he wanted to make sure the laws were clear and the state was up to date.

“The Alabama Supreme Court looked at the laws and said, ‘There are some really big holes here,’” Simpson said. “There are going to be people who can be found guilty of ethical violations and who have no intent to commit an ethical violation, and that’s a problem. The Court of Criminal Appeals has said the same thing.”

During his research into ethics laws, Simpson heard “horror stories” about people accused of ethics violations over common sense issues, which should not be considered violations.

The bill would have changed the penalties for some offenses, and Simpson was accused of trying to protect himself. He was referring to a radio appearance by Ethics Commissioner Stan McDonald on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” in which McDonald accused Simpson of being a Democrat and attacked the bill. After the appearance, Simpson fired back, pointing out that McDonald donated to a political campaign, a crime under current ethics laws because he was acting ethics commissioner. The match led to McDonald’s resignation, and Simpson said it was a perfect example of why reforms were needed.

“So that just proved my point: Nobody knows what these laws say, because you have people who, you know, he’s a lawyer who’s on the Ethics Commission, he doesn’t know what he can and can’t do. do,” Simpson told the Common Sense Campaign. ‘He resigned. He is no longer on the Ethics Committee. So you just see the chaos and how complicated and confusing the ethics laws are right now.”

Simpson hopes an outside source hired to evaluate the laws will have a proposal for ethics reform ready by next session.

Victories

Simpson said there were several victories during the session, including banning ballot harvesting and banning DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) programs at colleges.

“We have banned ballot harvesting,” Simpson said. “That will be, if anything comes out of this session, that’s what I would take away from this session. To ensure that our elections are reliable. We want to ensure that our elections are fair and have the integrity they require. .”

“You know, we’ve changed where you couldn’t have diversity, equity and inclusion programs at colleges, which have already paid off because Jacksonville State has already closed their office,” he continued. “I think this will happen everywhere in colleges. You can’t teach people that one race is better, or that one race is worse than another. You can’t do that.”

As for school choice, Simpson said people in Baldwin County are blessed with great schools, but he’s happy to see people across the state have the opportunity to send their children to better systems.

Simpson said he was also proud of a new law to protect IVF clinics, a law that would stop credit card companies from tracking gun purchases, a law that would make artificial intelligence child pornography illegal and a law that would send human traffickers to prison for life .

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