By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Senator Greg Reed (R-Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Winston) introduced bill SB257 on the Senate Floor on Tuesday.
The bill would “provide for an annual appropriation from the Education Trust Fund to each classroom teacher in public school grades K to 12 in the sum of $300 for classroom supplies.”
Prior to the introduction to the bill, Senators Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) started a filibuster followed by Quinton T. Ross, Jr., (D-Montgomery).
After the bill’s introduction, Senator Tammy Irons (D-Florence) introduced an amendment to SB257 to raise the amount to $1,000 but then went on to discuss charter schools and House Bills 159 and 160 that offer tax incentives for manufacturing companies.
During the filibuster, multiple senators as well as the President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) asked why were Singleton, Ross and Irons were “wasting the Senate’s time” while talking about how much they supported the bill.
After Irons time ran out, Marsh apologized to the teachers and the other senators saying that he thought all of the issues with this bill were resolved prior to it coming to the floor.
“It’s sad that we couldn’t work together today for an hour to pass a few bills that were non-controversial that we agreed upon and then gone on to Sunset [Laws]. But you didn’t want to do that. If you want to talk you will have your chance,” said Marsh. “We will get through the Sunset Laws and hopefully get back to what we are trying to do for the people, including the teachers in this state.”
He continued, “If we have got a problem with each other, let’s tell each other up front and don’t play this kind of a game at the expense of the teachers of the state of Alabama.”
Singleton returned and attempted to interrupt Marsh but Marsh refused to yield the floor which was upheld by President Kay Ivey.
Marsh announced that at 3:00 p.m., a law requiring the Senate to address Sunset Laws went into effect causing further discussion of SB257 to be postponed. The law states that one hour before the Senate adjourns on Day 10 of the legislative session, the sunset laws must be addressed.
Senator Trip Pittman (R-Daphne) said, “It is unfortunate when we have all of these teachers out there working as hard as they can to help educate students across the state. We are attempting to give them more supplies that they need for the classroom and the Democratic Caucus is standing up and trying to prevent that from happening.”
Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) said he was disappointed. “I thought we had a process whereby we could pass some pretty non-controversial bills out of there. I thought the President Pro Tem had an agreement with the Minority Leader. Even the Minority Leader had one bill on the Special Order. There were only four bills and I was hoping that we would get those bills out,” he said.
Dial said that he didn’t understand why the filibuster is going on. He said that the Democrats want more input in the process and that could be part of the problem. “But they introduce bills and most of the Minority bills that warranted discussion have come up and been taken care of.
“Maybe they will see that what they are doing is something that is not being constructive but being destructive to the whole process of trying to reach the goals,” he added.
“We have got some critical issues down the road and that is the budgets and and how we are going to make that work with a $400 million shortfall in the General Fund and trying to fund all aspects of education and some other critical issues. I wish they would be willing to work with us because we are willing to work with them. Hopefully we will move past that.”
Dial concluded by saying, “But, this is part of the pre-Democracy process where everybody in the Senate has an opportunity to say what they say.”
Attempts to contact both Ross and Irons ended in no voicemail available.