Jemma Stephenson

Jemma Stephenson

Jemma Stephenson covers education as a reporter for the Alabama Reflector. She previously worked at the Montgomery Advertiser and graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

The front of the Alabama State Capitol features a long marble staircase; a heavy wooden door; six columns extending three stories up, and a dome topped with the U.S. and Alabama flags.

What passed in the Alabama Legislature: May 23-25, 2023

By: and - May 26, 2023

Here’s a list of the bills that passed in the Alabama Legislature this week. Tuesday, May 23, 2023 Senate SB304, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, establishes minimum qualifications for the Hale County sheriff. It passed 32-0 and went to the House of Representatives, which passed it on Thursday. SB 305, sponsored by Sen. Bobby […]

General Fund goes to Gov. Kay Ivey after Senate debate over local projects

By: - May 26, 2023

The Alabama Legislature gave final approval to a $3 billion General Fund budget and a supplemental funding bill early Friday morning, sending it to Gov. Kay Ivey after addressing concerns from some senators about local projects. The House voted to concur on the General Fund Conference Committee substitute 103-0 and the supplemental 103-0. The Senate […]

A man looking upward and pointing.

Bill that makes doxing a crime passes the Senate

By: - May 25, 2023

A bill that would outlaw doxing passed the Senate on Thursday. HB 287, sponsored by Rep. Shane Stringer, R-Citronelle, makes it illegal for someone to intentionally post personal identifying information online to harass or harm another person.  If the person whose information is shared is a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or public servant, then the […]

A man looking to his right, his arms folded on top of a cane.

Bill prohibiting discrimination for organ donation passes Senate

By: - May 25, 2023

The Alabama Senate Thursday approved a bill that would prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities who need organ transplants. HB 122, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Wood, R-Valley, would ban organizations from placing people lower on a transplant list because of their disability. “My colleague and my district House member that has worked very hard on […]

Alabama Senate passes amended version of former gang bill

By: - May 25, 2023

The Alabama Senate Wednesday approved an amended version of the bill creating harsher criminal penalties for involvement in criminal enterprises. Most of the amendments to SB 143, sponsored by Will Barfoot, R-Pike Road, were cosmetic and changed references from “gang” to “criminal enterprise.” Some offenses were reduced. “This bill, SB 143, is a criminal enterprise […]

Four candles, labeled "Keke," "Phil," "Corbin" and "Siah" stand in front of a doorway surrounded by flowers, stuffed animals and balloons.

DA: Five people indicted on murder, assault charges in Dadeville mass shooting

By: - May 24, 2023

Five people arrested in connection with the mass shooting at a Sweet 16 party in Dadeville last month have been indicted on murder and assault charges.  The Fifth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Office said in a release Wednesday afternoon that Willie Brown, 20; Johnny Brown, 19; Wilson Hill, 19; an unidentified juvenile, 16 and an […]

Lawmaker presents bill to committee members

Alabama House committee approves $8.8 billion education budget

By: - May 24, 2023

The proposed $8.8 billion Education Trust Fund budget passed an Alabama House committee Wednesday and could be voted on by the full House on Thursday.  The House Ways and Means Education Committee approved the ETF and related bills on a series of voice votes. While the budget follows the Senate version, which passed on May […]

Rep. Pebblin Warren at a podium

First Grade Readiness bill passes Senate Committee

By: - May 24, 2023

The Alabama Senate Education Policy committee Wednesday approved a bill that would mandate first-grade readiness. The bill, HB 43, sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, would require students to show “first-grade readiness” through completion of kindergarten or an assessment. They can also enroll if they transfer from first grade in another state. “I really started […]

Shelves of eggs in a supermarket

Grocery tax cut bill passes its first hurdle in Alabama House

By: - May 24, 2023

An Alabama House committee Wednesday approved a bill that could cut the state grocery tax in half over several years. HB 479, sponsored by the House Ways and Means Education chair Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, would reduce the tax rate to 3% on Sept. 1. The tax would be cut down to 2% in subsequent years […]

Alabama Senate approves changes to Accountability Act

By: - May 24, 2023

The Alabama Senate Tuesday approved a bill that could significantly expand the reach of the Alabama Accountability Act. SB 263, sponsored by Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva, passed the Senate on a 26-7 vote amid concerns from Democrats that the bill would hurt public schools and some criticism from Republicans that it did not go far […]

Alabama Representative defends bill limiting assistance on voting

Senate committee OKs bill criminalizing absentee ballot help, but reduces penalties

By: - May 23, 2023

The Alabama Senate State Governmental Affairs Tuesday approved a bill that would criminalize some forms of assistance for absentee voting. But the committee voted to reduce some penalties and to add language clarifying that it is not a crime to help a person with a disability fill out an absentee ballot. The legislation, sponsored by […]

How does Alabama choose textbooks? Slowly

By: - May 23, 2023

Alabama may be a conservative state. But conservative activists still insist the textbooks here are too left-wing.  Earlier this year, the State Board of Education approved English Language Arts textbooks for kindergarten through third grade after a public hearing where critics suggested the books had too much Black history and multicultural stories.  These books had […]