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Breaking Down the 2015 Legislative Organizational Session

by Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed
Alabama Political Reporter

This week, the Alabama Legislature efficiently executed its constitutionally mandated Organizational Session, gaveling in on Tuesday and concluding on Wednesday afternoon.

Both the House and Senate elected leadership to serve for the next four years, also known as a quadrennium. Committee chairmanships and committee assignments were announced. The rules by which we will operate were adopted. And we are ready to start working for the people of Alabama during the first Regular Session, which starts in March.

Let me give you some historical context about the Organizational Session. The Alabama Constitution mandates that the newly elected and reelected members of the legislature convene the first Tuesday of January to organize, hence the name. It provides ten consecutive calendar days to complete this task, although we only took two this year. No bills are passed, and no debates occur about policy issues. The sole purpose of the Organizational Session is to elect officers, set rules of procedure, appoint members to committees, resolve contested elections – of which we had none, and canvass the results of the election.

My Republican Senate colleagues elected me their Majority Leader. This honor was previously that of veteran Senator Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills, who left very large shoes to fill. As Majority Leader, I am tasked with running the Republican caucus and assisting the President Pro Tempore (Pro Tem) of the Senate with his duties. The Democrats elected the well-respected Senator Quinton Ross to be the Minority Leader. The full Senate unanimously reelected Senator Del Marsh of Anniston as the Pro Tem for the next four years. His leadership the previous quadrennium helped us address many difficult but necessary issues. I look forward to tackling new challenges with Sen. Marsh as we help our state advance and grow.

One of the longest parts of the Organizational Session was debating and adopting over 80 rules of procedure that govern how the Senate operates. We also worked with the House to put in place more than 30 joint rules. The Senate rules cover everything from order and procedure, to committee operations, to how the Secretary of the Senate does his job. Only minor changes were made to the rules used by previous Senates, because we wanted to ensure that proper debate occurs. It is our goal to protect the deliberative nature of the upper chamber of the legislative branch of government, while still making sure we get the people’s work done during legislative sessions.

I can say confidently that your Alabama State Senate has an eager leadership team and dedicated members ready to tackle the tough issues and make our state a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

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Thank you Senators Albritton, Allen, Beasley, Blackwell, Brewbaker, Bussman, Chambliss, Coleman, Dial, Dunn, Figures, Glover, Hightower, Holley, Holtzclaw, Livingston, Marsh, McClendon, Melson, Orr, Pittman, Ross, Sanders, Sanford, Scofield, Shelnutt, Singleton, Smith, Smitherman, Stutts, Waggoner, Ward, Whatley, and Williams for offering yourselves up for public service. Thank you for making the commitment to improve our state and provide better opportunities for its people.

As we prepare for the actual legislative session that begins in seven weeks, please take the time to contact your senator and let him or her know your concerns and ideas – (334) 242-7800. We can be better elected officials when we hear from those who elect us. But thank you – the citizen – most of all for the opportunity to make a difference for our great state.

Greg Reed is the president pro tempore of the Alabama Senate. He is a Republican who represents Jasper, Alabama.

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