The leadership’s prediction that lawmakers would be home before Easter Sunday was accurate.
Both the House and the Senate adjourned Thursday sine die, ending the 2018 legislative session in time for lawmakers to get home in preparation for what is expected to be a competitive primary and general election season.
The Senate adjourned first Thursday. The body quickly concurred on the $6.6 billion Education Trust Fund budget, sending it to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk before saying final farewells and heading home.
The House took a slower approach Thursday, affording final passage to a controversial economic development and ethics bill after several hours of debate.
The education budget is the largest since the Great Recession began in 2008, increasing funding for pre-K programs and higher education. The governor congratulated the Senate Tuesday on passing the legislation, which is part of its constitutional duty to balance both of Alabama’s budgets.
“I am proud to have put forward an Education Trust Fund Budget which represents the largest investment in education in a decade,” Ivey said. “As I have prioritized education, it makes me proud to see that this budget expands funding for our First-Class Pre-K program, higher education and other important initiatives.”
When lawmakers arrived at the State House in January, they hoped for a non-controversial session that could end early. Most of the Republican leadership’s agenda — from a broadband bill and a small income tax cut to another bill that would have increased penalties for human trafficking — was accomplished.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said Thursday that he thought the session was a success.
“Everybody was focused on what the tasks were,” Marsh said. “We got all of the budgets done. They were done really relatively early.”
While Marsh said he was disappointed by the death of a few Senate bills in the House, he was happy with the progress made this year.
“We did everything that was required constitutionally of our offices,” Marsh said. “We have done the business of the people of the state of Alabama, finished four days early and saved a few hundred thousand dollars for the taxpayers.”
Marsh said by finishing early, the Legislature would save money on extra staffing at the State House and travel expenses for Alabama’s part-time lawmakers.
As the 2018 statewide election approaches, every seat in the Legislature will be up for election. Regardless, next year’s Legislature will have a big freshman class as several lawmakers won’t be seeking re-election, among them Sens. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery; Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham; Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery; Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville; and Sen. Slade Blackwell, R-Mountainbrook.
Rep. Craig Ford, I-Gadsden, and Rep. Johnny Mac Morrow, D-Red Bay, are leaving the House to run for Senate seats. Ford will be running as an independent for an Etowah County Senate seat and Morrow is pursuing the Democratic nomination to run against Sen. Larry Stutts.
Primary elections are set for June 5 and the general election for November.