By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
One month down, 14 to go for the Alabama Legislature.
Or maybe it just feels that way.
Regardless, one thing is for sure: we’ve come to the end of the fourth week in the 2017 regular session. And that means it’s time for your weekly recap of the crazy antics from the folks you sent to Montgomery to run this state.
Read ‘em and weep….
Deer can’t read
The House kicked off the week with a rousing debate over where you can hunt deer, eventually passing a bill that would allow hunting deer over bait. Now, I’m no hunter – the gene required to think, ‘Man, what a gorgeous animal, let me kill it and put its head on my wall,” somehow slipped by me – but this sounds like cheating.
For the uninitiated, this means you can set up a feeder, stock it with food that deer like and then shoot the deer when they come to eat. If you’re still confused, imagine shooting your dog the next time it goes strolling up to the bowl food you put out.
The only difference is Carl, the great hunter and general manager at the car lot, gets to paint his face up like Rambo, douse himself with deer urine and sit in a tree freezing half to death before he shoots his pet. (Because that’s what an animal that you’ve fed and nurtured since its birth really is – your pet.)
There was a rare treat Tuesday afternoon in the House, as Rep. Alvin Holmes, the state’s longest serving member, took to the podium in a debate over judicial reallocation to inject a few racial considerations.
Holmes made valid points and raised issues that ordinarily wouldn’t have been considered – which, I believe, is the point of having a diverse body of lawmakers. Holmes was challenging the bill because it would reallocate judges into areas where the population being served by the judge didn’t vote for the judge.
Also, Holmes pointed out that under the bill’s setup, the council that would be responsible for shuffling the judges around the state would be made up of all white people. When the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Hill, said that wasn’t true, that the bill only named the positions, not the people, Holmes pounced.
“Oh, so you think Alabama’s attorney general is gonna be black 20 years from now? Holmes exclaimed. This was after Holmes made Hill tick off each member on the proposed committee and then answer if they are white or black.
It was quite the spectacle, but a bit disappointing. Throughout the 10-minute exchange, I kept waiting for Holmes to yell out: “But what’s wrong with the judges we got? They judge pretty good, don’t they?”
Whadda they know?
There was a public hearing on Wednesday for a bill that would remove the requirement of a permit for concealed carry of a firearm – both on your person and in a car. It would also remove many of the restrictions on carrying firearms in public buildings and gun-free zones.
Law enforcement is against this bill. The discussion went like this.
Sheriffs/Cops: “This bill would make us less safe and make our jobs much, much harder.”
GOP lawmakers: “No it wouldn’t.”
Sheriffs/Cops: “We’re serious. Here are all of these reasons why it would make us less safe and also prevent us from doing a better job. We’re not making this up and we’re not anti-gun.”
GOP lawmakers: <fingers in ears> “LALALALALALALALA!”
It passed, because the NRA was there waving around a checkbook and the conservatives on the committee were salivating.
But it didn’t pass before Sen. Clay Scofield asked bill sponsor Sen. Gerald Allen to recite “that last part of the 2nd amendment.” Of course, that’s the part of the amendment that states the right cannot be infringed upon.
Of course, the most important part of the amendment – the part the founders put first – is that what can’t be infringed upon is a well-regulated militia bearing arms.
I guess they don’t teach the whole amendment in conservative constitutional class.
There is new leadership among Republicans. Nathaniel Ledbetter, a first-term representative and former mayor of Rainsville, is the new House majority leader. Connie Rowe, another first-term representative and former police chief in Jasper, is the Caucus vice-chair. They seem like good moves. Honestly, I couldn’t pick Ledbetter out of a lineup with the Beatles. Which means he hasn’t done anything incredibly stupid yet. And Rowe has always struck me as far too level-headed to be a Republican, and likely very regretful of her lapse in judgment that led to her decision to run for office. Maybe they can clean up that cesspool of a party.
Speaking of cesspools, the prison bill, with its magical pot of $800 million in gold, finally was rolled out this week. That thing is an utter mess. Sen. Cam Ward, who has been instrumental in necessary prison reforms that have reduced inmate populations, is carrying the thing, and he should drop it. Whenever you start waving rules, and when you set up a system whereby a single company can reward millions of dollars in what are essentially state contracts, bad things happen. The goal is a noble one, but the course has us running off a cliff.
And finally, is there anything worse than people bickering over an event that honors incredible human achievement, and an event that should be a boon to all involved? That’s what’s going on in Selma right now, as organizers of this weekend’s annual bridge crossing event, which commemorates the 1965 Bloody Sunday attack and later march to Montgomery, are bickering with city officials over a measly $23,000. It’s a stupid argument that’s tarnishing a good event. Stop it.