Republican Alabama House members propose agenda


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama House Republicans announced their agenda Thursday for the upcoming legislative session of items that could put the state at odds with President Barack Obama's administration.

It includes a measure aimed at slowing down Obama administration efforts to stiffen gun control regulations through federal laws or executive orders.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard proposed an amendment that would put the right to gun ownership in the Alabama Constitution. He says the amendment would give Alabama the "strongest gun protection" law in the country.

"House Republicans understand that many Alabamians cherish their right to own and use a firearm," said Republican Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin of Pelham.

The Republicans announced the agenda for the 2013 session during a news conference Thursday at the Alabama Statehouse. Hubbard said the items listed on the agenda would be given priority in the House and would be taken up before other legislation.

Another proposal would allow Alabama employers to opt out of parts of the federal health care plan that was pushed by President Obama.

The GOP agenda would also add restrictions to women seeking abortions. One bill would expand safety and health standards for those who perform abortions. The GOP lawmakers said the legislation would require that abortions be performed in the safest pre and post-operative environment available and would require correct physician involvement.

"This would insure that abortions be done in the safest way possible," McClurkin said.

Democratic Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham, who favors a woman having the right to have an abortion, said she is tired of seeing repeated efforts to remove that right. She said she would rather attack the problem of unwanted pregnancies through education and birth control.

House Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, criticized the Republicans for spending more time criticizing Obama and Democrats than trying to resolve difficult issues, like health care.

"The Republicans in the Alabama Legislature are more concerned with playing partisan political games than they are with the health of people of Alabama," Ford said. He criticized the Republicans for not expanding the number of people eligible for Medicaid, an option under the federal health care plan.

Another measure in the Republican agenda would give local school systems more flexibility in setting their own rules and regulations. Rep. Mac McCutcheon of Capshaw said an example would let school systems establish their own rules on how to improve security at schools to stop school shootings like the recent massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

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