By Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey
The “status quo” is defined as “the existing state of affairs” or often referred to as “the way it’s always been done.” Rarely is the phrase used to describe the way an organization operates, or a process, in a positive light. President Ronald Reagan once said, “Status quo, you know, that is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.’”
I was not elected to maintain the status quo and that’s why I have taken steps in my office and supported action in the Alabama Legislature to challenge the status quo.
Prior to the beginning of the 2013 Legislative Session, I made the decision to select a Parliamentarian to advise me as the President of the Senate. My current Parliamentarian, Mr. Richard Allen, has served as advisor to a U. S. Senator, Deputy Attorney General to four Alabama Attorneys General, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, a practicing attorney and retired General from the Army Reserves. He is highly respected, qualified and very knowledgeable of the Alabama Constitution, Code of Alabama and Rules of the Alabama Senate.
I understand that my decision breaks tradition and the status quo of how the Senate has operated in the past, but adhering to the rules and following the letter of the law trumps tradition. The actions of the Alabama Senate are governed by the Alabama and U.S. Constitutions, the Code of Alabama, the Joint Rules of the Alabama Legislature, and the Rules of the Alabama Senate. I acknowledge the change has been challenging at times and has resulted in a shift, but I believe it is best for the operation of the Senate and the people of Alabama.
The Alabama Legislature also recently made a courageous move to challenge the status quo of our state’s education. The Alabama Accountability Act of 2013, signed by Governor Bentley on March 14, is historic legislation that creates real education reform in Alabama. For too long, a child’s education has been dictated by zip code or family income. And for too long, our schools have not been held accountable resulting in a chronic legacy of failure. Under the flexibility provisions in the law, school administrators now have the ability to tailor their classrooms to fit the needs of the individual schools and through tax credits and scholarships, parents with children stuck in chronically failing schools now have the choice to move them to a better school. The concept of empowering parents to seek a quality education for their kids is a no-brainer to me, however, we’ve seen a select few attempt to prevent progress and maintain the status quo.
I strongly believe that government has a commitment to assure that all children receive a quality education. It is the agreement with the status quo that leads us to accept the notion that an education model based on government monopoly is the best way to educate society. We must begin to renew our commitment to education by investing in students and not schools.
My role in the process to pass the legislation in the Senate has been under scrutiny. Several members have publicly said I did not follow the rules. I can assure you I followed the rules and applied them properly even though some members failed to comply. For example, a rule requiring that a member must be recognized by the President of the Senate before speaking was ignored. You can look back and review the course of events on February 28 and quickly realize that rules were disregarded by several members despite multiple calls to refrain. It is incumbent upon the body to conduct its business in a civil and orderly manner with mutual respect for each other. My gavel does not reach beyond the desk, it is simply a tool to help reinforce communications from the chair – it is the body’s responsibility to comply.
As President of the Alabama Senate, I pledge to continue to administer my duties in order to move the body forward and turn from the status quo. I hope every Senator does the same and chooses to abide by the Rules of the Senate and act accordingly.
Change is often difficult to implement and accept, but the children, parents, educators, business owners and taxpayers of Alabama deserve the best leadership for progress and prosperity we can help provide.