By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The Alabama State Constitution defines how and when the Speaker of the House is elected. Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure offers how the Speaker must be removed.
Section 51 of the 1901 Constitution provides for the election of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of House of Representatives. Section 51 reads in part, “The senate, at the beginning of each regular session, and at such other times as may be necessary, shall elect one of its members president pro tem. thereof, to preside over its deliberations in the absence of the lieutenant-governor; and the house of representatives, at the beginning of each regular session, and at such other times as may be necessary, shall elect one of its members as speaker; and the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives shall hold their offices respectively, until their successors are elected and qualified.”
Under the original 1901 Constitution, the Speaker was elected “at the beginning of each regular session.”
However, that changed under Constitutional amendments 39 and 57, with the “election of officers and the appointment of standing committees of the senate and the house of representatives for the ensuing four years…,” according to the amendments, which read in part, “The legislature shall convene on the second Tuesday in January next succeeding their election and shall remain in session for not longer than ten consecutive calendar days. No business can be transacted at such sessions except the organization of the legislature, the election of officers and the appointment of standing committees of the senate and the house of representatives for the ensuing four years, which election and appointment may, however, also be made at such other times as may be necessary….”
The Speaker and the Senate Pro Tem are elected with a voice vote by a simple majority.
Such voting by legislature falls under Section 83 which reads, “In all elections by the legislature the members shall vote viva voce, and the votes shall be entered on the journal.”
However, removal of the Speaker is carried out under the rules of Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) “seventy of the 99 legislative chambers in the United States use Mason’s Manual as their parliamentary authority. Thirteen use Jefferson’s Manual, and only 4 use Robert’s Rules of Order.”
Alabama uses Mason’s.
The removal of the Speaker according to Mason’s requires a majority of all elected members, which in the Alabama House would mean at least 53. It is also a voice vote as with election.
Any member of the House may call to reorganize the House, or to vacate the Chair at anytime the body is in session.