By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, March 3, both Houses of the Alabama Legislature will return to Montgomery for the start of the 2015 legislative session.
During the day there will be a number of events.
At 9:30 am in the Joint Briefing Room (popularly called the Star Wars room) on the seventh floor of the capital the Alabama Constitutional Conservatives will be holding a seminar titled, Things you didn’t know about the Constitution hosted by former state Senator Scott Beason (R). The seminar promises to go back to the basics of the Constitution and it’s beginnings. The Southern Regional Coordinator of Heritage Action for America, Stephen Siao, will speak on the Sentinel Program and how you can work in grassroots activism with others on a national level. Alabama Lawmakers will be speaking as well to give updates on legislation before the Alabama Legislature for 2015. That event ends at 11:30 am. Since space is limited they are asking attendees to RSVP to:
Alabama Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) is inviting visitors to Montgomery to his office during the day. Zeigler wrote on Facebook: “If you are coming to Montgomery Tuesday for the start of the legislative session, please use YOUR distate auditor’s office as your HQ. First office in your state capitol, Room S-101 (think “Savings 101”). Next to marble statue of Gov. Lurleen Wallace. We have coffee and pastries (at no expense to taxpayers). Plus, we know where the bathrooms are. We can walk across to Statehouse for 11 am rally of the hard-working families who often are not heard. __Zeigler.”
At 11:00 am a Welcome Back rally will be held on the State House steps by a number of Tea Party and conservative groups. State Auditor Zeigler is slated to speak to the rally.
Zeigler calls those who come for the session opening, “The hard-working families who often are not heard.” Zeigler’s own “Common Sense Campaign,” group is reportedly bringing a bus with 35 people from the Mobile-Baldwin County area according to a statement by Zeigler.
The group, Stop Common Core in Alabama is also a participant. The group wrote in a statement: “Be counted and tell them Common Core must go—We need you there! It is a sacrifice for many but please do it as you are needed! Prayers too are needed.” The group opposes the controversial Alabama College and Career Standards that are aligned with Common Core. The group has also taken a position that is skeptical of charter schools.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) will present his state of the state address to a joint session of the Alabama Legislature in the State Capital Building. Gov. Bentley is expected to lay out his case for a massive $541 tax increase on the people of Alabama to deal with the rising costs of the the Alabama Medicaid Program and to deal with the state’s overcrowded prison system. Gov. Bentley laid out the details of his plan in a press conference on Friday.
Gov. Bentley said on Friday, “I believe this revenue plan is best for Alabama, and I look forward to working with the Legislature during the budget process. We were elected to make bold decisions that help Alabama, and I believe we will do just that.”
The $541 million in new revenues would come from doubling the state sales tax on car and truck sales from 2 percent to 4 percent; raising the taxes on cigarettes and tobacco; changes to the corporate tax structure; higher taxes on car rentals; changes to personal income tax deductions; higher taxes on utilities; and higher taxes on insurance.
On Wednesday the State Senate will open with a public hearing on the new Charter School bill that is sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). The vote could occur as early as Thursday.
The Alabama House Republican Caucus has already endorsed the Charter School bill in their 2015 legislative agenda so if it passes out of the Republican controlled Senate the bill is expected to sail through the Republican controlled House.