By Rep. Darrio Melton
Yesterday marked one year until the 2014 elections. For Alabama, that means electing Representatives and Senators to the Alabama Legislature as well as our Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and other statewide offices.
The 2014 election also means that instead of the Republican Supermajority in Montgomery talking about the change they will bring once elected, they now have a record to run on. After sitting through three GOP-led legislative sessions, I can tell you about the change they brought.
They pushed their own bills through in backroom deals and didn’t even allow the bills of Democrats to come to the floor. This meant that the Democrats had no chance at even voting on legislation that most Alabamians would consider “good law.”
They shut off debate, which meant that your elected officials had no ability to speak for your interests. They did this more times in the last three years than has ever been done in Alabama history combined.
They increased restrictions on voting, cut funding for public education and cost us thousands of jobs. This means that while our families and children will feel the pain, you will have a more difficult time going to the ballot box to voice your displeasure with the change they brought to Montgomery.
Now, in the last year of this term, the Republicans have one last opportunity to make a difference before the voters go to the polls next year. Although doubtful, it is my hope that they will do everything possible to help the people of this district and this state.
This year, the plan is to send the GOP leadership some good laws that they threw out last year, as well as a few new ones.
Last session, the Republicans threw out legislation that would make it easier for all eligible Alabamians to vote by permitting voter registration at the polls on Election Day. I’m giving them another chance to vote on that law.
The Republicans also threw out legislation to help inform parents as well as to make our children safer in cars by earmarking funds from fines to be used for the Head Injury Foundation’s safety program. I’m giving them another chance to vote on this law.
Lastly, the Republicans threw out legislation that will return funds to the City of Orville from a beer tax, just like other cities receive. I’m giving them another chance to vote on this law.
In addition to the second chance legislation listed above, I plan to submit a few new bills to help the people those of this district and state.
First, I plan to submit a bill to make our children safer on their commute to and from school by adding cameras to catch drivers who pass a school bus while students are loading or unloading.
I’m also planning to submit a bill to expand Medicaid so that Alabamians have the same benefits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as individuals living in other states.
And lastly, I plan to submit legislation that helps the people, not the big businesses and PACs that line the supermajority’s pockets. Every member of the legislature was elected to represent all of the people of their district. Whether they were elected as a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent, legislators owe it to the people to listen to their needs and voice their opinions in the State House.
Demand that the GOP supermajority allow legislators to speak this session. Demand they allow us to vote on good laws, and that they vote to support it, regardless of what Party leadership says. Demand the representative democracy that so many people fought and died for us to have.
Tell the legislature to use this last session wisely, because elections are coming soon.