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Legislature Finishes Busy First Week

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama Legislature went back into session on Tuesday, March 3, and immediately began work on new legislation for 2015. The legislature generally meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays and does a lot of work in committee on Wednesdays.

House Rules Committee Chairman Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw) wrote on Facebook:

“Finished the first week of the 2015 legislative session. House standing committee meetings for two days and bills getting favorable reports. Next week will begin debate on bills. Legislation dealing with religious freedom, charter schools, economic development, etc.. Leadership and Ways and Means Committees will address the budgets. Joint transportation will address highway funding. There will continue to be important legislation coming out of committees but we do not need to lose sight of budget shortfalls and taxes. Normally voters do not consider budgets, ‘hot button issues.’ Some voters say they are ‘boring.’ Please stay informed this year because our budgets should be priority!! Tough decisions will need to be made.”

Whether or not the State wants to continue implementation of the controversial Common Core standards is one issue before the legislature.

State Senator Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville) said in a Facebook statement:

“FYI Facebook friends, there is a Common Core repeal bill sponsored by retired teacher Rusty Glover introduced and I am one of multiple cosponsors. Over the past 12 months I have heard many parents tell a very similar story of how the new Common Core aligned curriculum is taking the joy of learning out of their children. Recently at our Madison County public forum, repeal of Common Core was the number one issue, as your legislator in the Alabama Senate please know I heard you loud and clear. My count of people against CC verse those supporting it is an overwhelming 12 to 1 against CC. For those that do support CC please know that my decision to support the repeal was not taken lightly, but as more and more families have shared their personally experiences in some of our city’s best schools I could not let their cry for help go unheard.”

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State Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) said in a Facebook statement,

“HB 1 which is The Alabama Student Religious Liberties Act of 2015 (School Prayer Bill) has passed The Education Policy Committee! I anticipate this bill being up for debate and a vote next week! Stay tuned.”

Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) said on Facebook,

“I have pre-filed a bill to strengthen transparency at all levels of government in Alabama. This bill will improve our open meetings act and allow citizens more access to public deliberations.”

Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) wrote on his blog:

“A bill can only have one action taken in a single day. When session opened on Tuesday bills were introduced – this is the first reading. On Wednesday committee meetings are held and bills are debated and then either held over or receive favorable report. On Thursday, today, committees reported out those bills with favorable reports; this is known as the second reading. The next step is for the bills to be taken up by the full Senate which will happen on Tuesday of next week. The only other business conducted in the Senate today was several confirmations; the most notable being confirmation of a new director for the Ethics Commission.”

State Representative Christopher John England (D-Tuscaloosa) said on Facebook that during the session,

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“On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we are in session. Some days the Legislature goes into sessions on Wednesday as well. Standing committees generally meet on Wednesdays. All meetings are open to the public.”

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) said of the House Republican Caucus Agenda, 

“The Alabama First agenda is designed to put our state firmly on the road toward being first in education and first in economic development. And when it comes to combating the liberal policies handed down from Washington, this agenda puts the interests, needs, and conservative values of Alabama first.”

What to do with the General Fund budget is also a major issue.

State Representative State Representative Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) said on Facebook,

“I do not support the Governor and his bully tactics. Nor will I support his tax increases. Its gonna be a tough session but we will continue vote the way our supporters expect.”

House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) said in a statement:

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“I also want to thank the governor for finally addressing some of the main priorities that have been a part of Alabama Democrats platform for the past several years. Closing corporate tax loopholes is a matter of both revenue and fairness. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. It is just plain wrong that they are being asked to pay taxes that their competitors from other states aren’t having to pay. Closing these loopholes will level the playing field, and provide desperately needed revenue. Increasing the tobacco tax is another good option, as it is a voluntary tax. People chose to smoke or dip, so anyone who doesn’t want to pay the tax can choose to quit. We will either raise revenue or improve public health—it’s a win-win. But while I am encouraged to see the governor embracing these ideas, I still don’t understand why he hasn’t called for a lottery or a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians.”

State Representative Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) said on Facebook after Gov. Robert Bentley pled for massive tax increases,

“Listened to the State of the State address by Gov Bentley. I think his best point was the ‘true conservatives pay their own bills’. Lots of work ahead.”

State Representative April Weaver (R) said on Facebook,

“Please keep me and my fellow members of the legislature in your prayers as we strive to make the best decisions for our districts and the people we serve.”

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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