By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday the Republican Supermajority passed the most ambitious education reform bill in decades with ease in both the Alabama House and Senate. On Tuesday the Alabama Democratic unleashed their pent up frustrations by filibustering. For almost three hours Democrats came to the floor of the Alabama House one at a time to make personal points denouncing the already passed Alabama Accountability Act and bemoan the process by which that bill sailed through both Houses of the legislature. The Republicans let them vent and did not bother to debate the issue.
Alabama State Representative John Knight (D) from Montgomery said that we (the Democrats) have to do this.
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said, “We were once in the minority so we certainly understand.”
Knight said, “Once we are elected we are here to represent the people of the state of Alabama. That does not mean we are always going to agree.” “We are in the minority at this time.” “When I was in the majority I hope that all of you (the Republicans) thought that you had input in the things that we did. Not only did you have input you had clout.” Knight accused Rep. Chad Fincher who sponsored the School Flexibility Act (which became the Alabama Accountability Act in conference committee) of being dishonest and deceitful in how he represented the bill. “We may be a minority but we are not going to go along to get along.”
Rep. Knight said, “There needs to be a continuation of what went on in 1965.” “If you would look at the demographis of your district. Not everybody you represent in your district are rich. We have become the legislature of the big mules. Poor people regardless of their race are being left out of the process.”
Rep. Barbara Boyd (D) from Anniston said, “Today I am wearing black. I am in mourning for Horace Mann the founder of public education. I am in mourning for the legislative process. I am in mourning for the children of Alabama. I am even in deeper mourning for what is called failing schools.” Rep. Boyd said that instead of the Accountability Act the legislature should have put more money into failing schools.
Rep. Christopher John England (D) from Tuscaloosa said, “What I witnessed in this House Thursday was uncalled for.” “When somebody can circumvent the process to advance a personal agenda they have too much power.”
Rep. David Colston (D) from Hayneville said, “Small people do matter.” “God is going to hold all of us accountable.”
Rep. Juandallyn Givan (D) from Birmingham said, “The Republican party is taking us backwards.” “We have been bamboozled. We have been usurped.” Givan said that Republicans need to accept that President Obama is the President of the United States. “This type of change is not good for the people of Alabama.” “I can not even come into this well for debate without members bringing letters to shut me down.” “We still have 50 more years in Alabama to get it right in regard to human rights.” “We are so close to a Jim Crow era in the state of Alabama that you make me wonder if we have progressed at all.” “This will be another bad bill that will shine a light on the state of Alabama that will make people around the nation wonder what are they doing in the state of Alabama.”
Rep. Marcel Black (D) from Tuscumbia asked, “Have more than four people in this body actually read that bill before you voted on it?” Black said that Republicans were posting things on social media five minutes after it passed and had prepared press statements hours later. “This showed me it was a setup deal.”
Rep. Pebblin Warren (D) from Macon County said, “I did not have the opportunity to read the bill until today.” “It might look OK on paper but in reality it is not going to work. Lets be honest most of the private schools in the state of Alabama are predominately white.” Warren said of the poor mostly Black students in Alabama’s worst schools, “Even if they got a scholarship and got there they couldn’t maintain themselves.” “That student is not going to feel comfortable in those settings.”
Rep. Patricia Todd (D) from Birmingham said, “In the last year I have functioned as an independent thinker. I supported the school flexibility bill; but I am an American and I grew up in a country that believes in Democracy.” “If I can’t trust the process not to be abused then I think we have failed.”