Social Conservatives Accomplish Little in Legislative Session

June 8, 2015

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

The 2015 Alabama legislative session is effectively over, except for a tidying-up day at the Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday, June 11. The corporations who fund GOP campaigns essentially got most of their legislative agendas passed, but the social conservatives and tea party groups were not very successful in advancing many of their issues.

On the abortion front, Republican politicians in Alabama like to tout their Pro-Life views because Republican Primary voters in Alabama are overwhelmingly Pro-Life. No Pro-Life bills passed in this session.

Cheryl Ringuette Ciamarra with Alabama Citizens For Life said in a statement on Facebook on Thursday after the session ended, “Alabama State Senate ended today without Full Senate floor vote on Any prolife legislation this year, perhaps another chance IF a special session includes this issue in the call. I know our guys are better than this, we lost a real champion in Scott Beason.”

The fetal heartbeat bill never achieved momentum.

Rep. Ed Henry’s bill to ban abortion clinics near schools never made it to the Senate floor, even though the Senate adjourned early on both Wednesday and Thursday, and then burned their last legislative day. Far more time was spent on petty local bills than on issues like new abortion restrictions. 

The Pro-Life people got a lot more out of their legislators than the repeal Common Core movement got.  Before the session, a commanding majority of State Senators publicly announced their support for the repeal of Common Core legislation. The repeal Common Core bill, SB101, barely got out of committee in the Senate with opposition by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). It languished in committee for weeks before being easily set aside on the day 26 of the legislative session. Sen. Rusty Glover’s (R-Semmes) bill, SB101, never even made it to the floor of the Senate for an up or down vote.

Sen. Glover said at a press conference last week, “It’s just really sad that a lot of what you have to say has fallen on deaf ears because…money folks that have so much influence have disrupted our efforts.”

Rep. Bob Fincher (R-Woodland) said, “Leadership in the House is not with us, some of the older members are not with us, but I have been encouraged – very encouraged – with some of the new members in the House that were just elected. We have a lot of support among the freshman in the House. A lot of them have stepped forward and signed the bill to bring about the defeat of Common Core. I think we’ve made some headway this time. We have not gotten where we need to be, and those who suffer will not be us, it’ll be the children of this State.”

The State went into legal chaos when Federal District Judge Granade declared Alabama’s marriage laws unconstitutional and ordered judges to marry same sex couples. The Alabama Supreme Court then ordered the judges to stop marrying same sex couples.

The Alabama House of Representatives passed HB56, sponsored by Rep. Jim Hill (R-Odenville). HB56 would have protected judges from having to marry people when that might violate their closely-held religious convictions. That bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary committee, but was not important enough to the Senate leadership to be voted on before they left for their early vacation (even though most sources expect the US Supreme Court to rule within weeks against Alabama’s marriage laws.

The Senate did, however, pass Sen. Greg Albritton’s (R-Bay Minette) SB377, which would have taken the State out of the business of selling marriage licenses altogether. 

Sen. Albritton said on Wednesday “The Supreme Court is going to make a ruling very shortly. What I am trying to accomplish is to fix the chaos that we have now. If SB377 is passed then the State will go smoothly into this without further litigation. My goal is not to protect a group, my goal is to protect the State.”

Albritton’s bill was voted down by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) continues to ask conservative voters to get behind his plans for draconian tax increases and Sen. Marsh is asking for a massive expansion of legalized gaming in the State.  It will be interesting to see what social issues, if any, are in the Governor’s call for a Summer special session.

 

General Fund Chaos Could Dominate Legislative Week

May 26, 2015

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, May 26, the Alabama Legislature will reconvene with the General Fund budget still looming.  Last week the Alabama House of Representatives passed an austere General Fund budget with no revenue bills thus cuts the 2016 fiscal year General Fund general fund budget $204 million from 2015 levels. 

Senate Finance and Taxation Committee Chairman Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) has said that he hopes the committee will look at other options rather than just passing HB135 as passed by the House. Orr is not ruling out revenue bills.
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Gaming Bill Receives Favorable Report

May 15, 2015

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

A plan being promoted by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) to use a lottery and casinos at the four existing dog tracks to provide funding for Alabama’s troubled General fund in lieu of tax increases received a favorable report from the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee on a 5 to 3 vote. Senate Democrats supported the favorable report on Marsh’s SB453.
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Common Core Opponents Urge Senate Rules Committee to Debate Repeal Bill on Floor

April 30, 2015

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Wednesday, April 29, the Senate Education Policy Committee narrowly gave a favorable report to Senate Bill 101 which would repeal Alabama’s controversial College and Career Ready Standard.  The controversial standards are aligned with Common Core and embrace unproven educational practices which critics claim are setting back a generation of our nation’s children.

The Alabama Foundation for Limited Government wrote in a statement, “THE ALABAMA STATE REPUBLICAN EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE last year voted 409-1 to ask the legislature to STOP COMMON CORE to no avail. The National Party voted to do the same. Your corrupt Alabama Legislative leadership will not allow State Senator Rusty Glover’s Anti -Common Core bill to come to the floor for debate. Corruption in Alabama all the way to the classroom. Money drives common core and the Business Council of Alabama, is trying to derail our efforts. So…. Go Away BCA. Let the Alabama Legislature, which your PAC mostly elected, listen to the people and Stop Common Core. BCA, your members, all the way to the local Chambers of Commerce, should be ashamed.”  BCA, the Business Council of Alabama, has embraced the College and Career Standards as a step forward in preparing students for the workforce.
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Hubbard Says Tax Increases Would Be A Last Resort

April 10, 2015

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Thursday, April 9, Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) addressed the Alabama Political Reporter as well as the other members of the Montgomery press corps after the House took a lunch break.

Speaker Hubbard said that while it appears that not a lot has happened this week behind the scenes “we got a lot accomplished.” The Speaker said that Wednesday was a very busy day in committees where a lot of bills were moved.  Hubbard said that it was good to get started on the budgets so that everybody can see what the budgets might look like.
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Alabama Legislative Session Begins

March 4, 2015

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, March 3, both houses of the Alabama state legislature returned to Montgomery for the opening session of the 2015.

Speaker Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn) said in a statement on Facebook, “Proud to gavel in the 2015 Legislative Session in the Alabama House of Representatives. I look forward to working with my colleagues from across the state to continue to enact bold reforms and conservative solutions that will put Alabama First.” Some media outlets had joined a call by ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ Editor Bill Britt for Speaker Hubbard to resign while he faces his upcoming trial for 23 criminal charges of breaking Alabama election law. Hubbard appeared unmoved by his critics.
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GBYRs Select Jack Williams Favorite Elected Official

December 24, 2014

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Thursday, December 18, the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans (GBYRs) met at the Wine Loft in Birmingham for their annual Christmas Party. While feasting, networking, and fellowship were the primary focus of the evening, the GBYRs also voted on their favorite (Republican) elected official of the year by secret ballot.

GBYR Chair Jackie Curtis announced that State Representative Jack Williams (R from Vestavia) was voted as this year’s winner.

Rep. Williams said on Facebook, “Thank you to the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans for selecting me as their 2014 Elected Official of the Year. I am honored by your confidence and continued support.”
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