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SB280 fails in the House when session ends

The Alabama House chambers. (FILE PHOTO)

Thursday, both Houses of the Alabama Legislature concluded their work and ended the 2018 legislative session. A number of bills were killed from lack of action by the second house.

Among these was Senate Bill 280, which was a controversial piece of legislation that would have ended elections for county school superintendents.

Senate Bill 280 is sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, and was being carried in the House by State Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Gulf Shores. SB280 would have eliminated county school superintendent elections in more than half of the state of Alabama.

The Senate had passed the controversial legislation and SB280 made it on to the proposed special order calendar in the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Alabama Eagle Forum was among the groups opposing the bill to end public elections for superintendents.

On Tuesday, State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, told the Alabama Political Reporter that the leadership had been polling the members about the bill. Morrow did not know how the House would vote but said, “I am voting no.”

There was a slow down in the House on Tuesday that left the House able to pass only two of the nineteen bills on the day’s special order calendar. SB280 never came to the floor.

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Fear that the House would bring up SB280 continued on Wednesday, but growing frustration by members with the Senate’s failure to pass the conference committee version education budget, having to deal with a number of conference committee reports and executive amendments by the governor, and house bills that had been amended by the Senate slowed the pace of the House to a crawl.

The Senate replaced HB317, the economic developer bill, with a substitute version forcing the House to reconsider the bill that they had passed weeks earlier. House sponsor Ken Johnson, R-Moulton, was urging members to concur with the Senate version of HB317 or it would likely fail when the Senate unexpectedly decided to carry over the budget and adjourn to come back on Thursday.

The move by the senators angered the House members, so they also voted to adjourn two hours earlier than anyone expected and come back on Thursday.

There was only a slight chance that the House would bring up any bills when they got through with HB317 on Thursday, so SB280’s chances of even being brought up on what would have been the last day of the session were slim at best.

State Rep. Isaac Whorton, R-Valley, told the Alabama Political Reporter, “It doesn’t have the votes, anyway.”

The House eventually voted to concur with the Senate on HB317. After a few more concur votes, everyone said their goodbyes, passed the last time sensitive resolutions of the year and awarded the Shroud award to the deadest piece of legislation to come to the floor. The 2018 session ended and the House never got into a final special order calendar. SB280 died without ever seeing the floor of the House.

SB280 if it had passed would have removed current rights to elect education superintendents from the people of: Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Conecuh, Coosa, DeKalb, Dale, Elmore, Fayette, Geneva, Henry,  Houston, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Tallapoosa, Walker, Washington, and Winston.”

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Eagle Forum said that SB280 was modeled after legislation being pushed by special interests in other states to centralize education and reduce local control.

Sponsor, Brewbaker is not running for re-election so SB280 will have to find a new sponsor if someone wants to resurrect the bill in 2019.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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