Retail Report: Federal COVID relief, vaccine expansion, year into pandemic

At this time last year, Alabama confirmed its first novel coronavirus case. The Legislature immediately went home and didn’t come back for six weeks and then only to pass the state’s budgets. Tragically, the number of COVID-19 cases have grown to 500,000 and more than 10,000 Alabamians have died in the past year. The increasing availability of vaccines, a decreasing 7-day average of cases and declining hospitalizations offer hope that the pandemic is fading away.

On March 22, Alabama will expand its vaccine eligibility to include more than 2 million people. Restaurant workers are among those who will be newly eligible. As of yesterday, 765,724 Alabamians had received at least their first dose of vaccine. Throughout the past year, you have continued to serve your customers and community. Your association applauds you for your perseverance. View video of just a few of the accomplishments of Alabama Retail Association members in the past year.

The Legislature has more than doubled its pace from the 2020 session and has already begun to address its primary job – passing budgets. The Alabama House of Representatives approved the state’s general operating budget (HB309) Tuesday, and the state’s education budget (SB189) is in a Senate committee next week. Lawmakers hope to have the budgets approved by mid-April.

Tuesday will the 15th legislative day, the halfway point of the 30-day session. The House convenes at 1 p.m. and the Senate at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

In Congress, the House gave the final OK to the massive COVID-19 relief package, which the president signed into law Thursday.

Keep reading for this week’s top stories of interest to retailers.

For legislative and other news of relevance to retailers,
read This Week in Retail News.

President signs $1.9 trillion relief package; $29 billion included for restaurant grants (

Alabama to expand vaccine eligibility March 22, including restaurant workers; National-Guard-run clinics begin March 23 in Black Belt and Wiregrass; Mass clinics return in select areas week of March 29 (

One bill altering state of emergency powers ready for final consideration in the Senate; Senate carries over another (

Alabama Senate rejects lottery, casino bill (SB214); lottery-only bills – SB309 and SB319 – introduced after gaming bill dies (

House votes to clarify who is an employee for tax purposes; excluding taxes from swipe fees proposed (

House Judiciary to vote next week on medical marijuana, then bill goes to House Health – SB46 (

Regulating pharmacy benefit managers gets public hearing and pharmacy licensing changes ready for final debate in House (

Allowing pet dogs in outdoor dining areas headed to Senate for final consideration (

Alabama House committee OKs bill attempting to nullify federal gun laws – HB157 (

In Committee: Hairstyle discrimination ban and nicotine regulation bills clear panels; job applicant discrimination bill carried over

Regularly check our COVID-19 Resources page at

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