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.