By Rep. Darrio Melton
Each year, the joke around the State House is that the best time to slip something in the law and not be held accountable by media and constituents is the second year of the quadrennium. By this point, media attention has usually shifted to the upcoming presidential election, and 2018 is far enough away that voters won’t be looking ahead yet.
In 2012, the second year of the last quadrennium, the Republican Supermajority pushed through their infamously unconstitutional immigration bill, they pulled the teeth out of their signature ethics bill, and a dozen or so incentives to help businesses over families.
The 2016 legislative session is shaping up no differently.
Last week, House Clerk Jeff Woodard announced that the State has paid $62,500 to retain an Architecture firm to design House chamber renovations. At a time when Governor Bentley is shutting down state parks and driver’s license offices because our state is so strapped for cash.
Just last week, Governor Bentley settled a lawsuit with Planned Parenthood Southeast, paying them $51,000 in state tax dollars over a frivolous lawsuit to stop them from receiving an average $4,300 per year in Medicaid dollars.
Also last week, one Legislator instructed his constituents not to shop at any businesses with “brown people” behind the register because these “stores are owned by folk that send their profits back to their homeland and then in turn use these funds against our country.” In case you missed it, small businesses fund families, not ISIS.
If the last week is any indicator, the 2016 legislative session is going to be one for the record books. We thought it couldn’t get any worse than Scott Beason’s 2012 immigration bill, but I have a feeling Sen. Beason’s bill will look like friendly banter after what we may see in the upcoming session.
Keep your eyes open. Don’t let the Republican supermajority slip anything past you in the second year of this quadrennium. Believe me, they’ll try.
Rep. Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.