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Lieutenant governor bill likely dead for this session

Chip Brownlee

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A bill that would place a referendum on November’s ballot to drastically redefine the role of the lieutenant governor and strip many of the position’s responsibilities is likely dead for this session.

The bill, proposed by Republican Sen. Gerald Dial, has been on and off of the Senate floor for the past several weeks as Dial has attempted to work out a deal with opposing senators, but it now appears those negotiations weren’t enough to save the bill.

The bill was one of three pieces of legislation on the Senate’s special order calendar Tuesday, but the legislation was quickly carried over again after senators indicated it had not received enough support for a vote — with no idea of if or when the bill might be brought up again.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said Tuesday that the bill was likely dead for the session.

“I thought it was a bill that has been agreed upon, but as many times as it’s been to the floor, I don’t anticipate seeing it again this year,” Marsh said.

Dial’s bill would make the responsibilities of the position more akin to that of a vice governor with the role largely being determined by the governor. On the floor earlier this month, Dial said the governor could theoretically send the lieutenant governor to a foreign country to negotiate a deal or even run a state agency.

More specifically, the bill would remove the lieutenant governor’s responsibility to preside over the Alabama Senate and vote in the case of a tie, and it would transfer that responsibility to a Senate president elected by the body.

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If the bill were passed and the voters approved the Constitutional amendment, the governor would no longer be elected separately from the governor. Instead, the governor and lieutenant governor would be elected jointly similarly to the way the president and vice president of the United States are elected.

“Early on, I thought there was a lot of support for the concept, but for whatever reason, that went south,” Marsh said. “It’s just, this late in the game, time in the session, I think we’ve got to focus on other things that we want to get done.”

The move to scrap the bill this session comes as the Legislature moves into what is expected to be its last two weeks of session. Even if the bill were to be passed out of the Senate, it would need to be approved by a House that has been bogged down with disputes over local Jefferson County legislation and several controversial gun bills.

 

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