Legislative Highlights

The waters are warming up nicely and the last few weeks in the Legislative pool have been busy! Time to look back on some highlights as to where we are in improving the lives of all Alabamians.

So when you think of the Legislature improving lives, a good foundation for this is through a tide that will bring ethics reform. You may have heard that the House passed an important ban on PAC to PAC transfers, a critical and long-overdue piece of legislation. Unfortunately the Senate amended that bill in such a way that would exempt certain political groups from the ban. Recognizing that this amendment would completely weaken the bill, the House voted unanimously NOT to concur with the Senate amendment PAC to PAC transfer ban. It now goes to conference committee to work out a compromise. I voted for the House version of the PAC to PAC transfer ban and will continue to oppose any amendment language that dilutes the efficacy of this bill.

The perennial battle for Constitutional Reform has again made some gains this past week. The bill calling for a Constitutional Convention was voted out of the Constitutions and Elections House Committee in a 9-4 party line split vote. I’m proud of my yes vote to move this forward and am hopeful that it will see the light of day on the House floor.

And I could not forget that we freed the hops! This is a bill that would allow those of legal age to purchase gourmet beer in Alabama. It was a close vote, but the bill passed. It’s interesting that I received more calls and emails this year to date about Free the Hops and Constitutional Reform than any other issue before us! I hope more of you will let me—as well as your own legislators—know how your feel about issues we are reviewing.

The House is working hard, as always, and has passed at least 50 bills already. Unfortunately, the Senate continues to drag its heels in contentious debate and party politics as always. It’s frustrating when the House gets lumped in with the Senate when people talk about how bad the legislature is; this is not to say the House couldn’t benefit from some improvements, but I can assure you that my colleagues in the House want to work together and are typically eager to let you know how they feel about a bill.

In the midst of this positive work, however, bad news looms on the state budget front. February revenues were below what had been forecasted and it looks like we will have to cut $400 million from the Governors’ Budget. We are going to have to make some tough decisions and I will continue to do my best to protect services for the poor, children and seniors. We can not afford to cut Medicaid, Public Health, Children’s Services or Senior Services, we have got to look at our tax and revenue structure and figure out a way to fund needed programs and not overburden families with more taxes.

I think what’s most interesting for me at this point, is that I find that although freshman legislators totally agree with this kind of philosophy, recognizing that we must reexamine our tax and revenue structure in a fair and balanced manner, some who have been in power for a longer time aren’t as interested in this kind of policy discussion. It leaves me convinced that we need to elect more open minded, independent thinkers.

Interested in running? Come on in, the water’s fine!

2 Responses to “Legislative Highlights”

  1. Helen says:

    ” It leaves me convinced that we need to elect more open minded, independent thinkers. ”

    A-double-men! I’ll bet others would happily join me in signing on to recruit others willing work to elect more officials attuned to citizen needs! Is it too early for challengers to begin to announce? A little pressure that way might work wonders for the Senate.

    And special thanks for voting to free the hops–that might be enough to lure my elder child to return to Alabama!

  2. Don says:

    I’ve wondered for some time why budgets are based on forecasted revenues which can lead to proration if the forecasts are too high. I would think that a wiser course would be to base budgets on the actual revenue acquired in the prior year.

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