The Alabama Senate began its 2021 Regular Legislative Session on Tuesday, and the first item of business for the Senate was for Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, to formally step down as the most powerful member of the upper chamber. Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, was then formally elected as the new Senate president pro tempore.
The move had already been announced in the fall, but the change of power could not formally occur until the Senate was actually in session.
Reed was nominated by Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jabo Wagoner, R-Vestavia, and seconded by House Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro. There were no other nominations. The Senate members present then voted unanimously 31 to 0 in favor of Reed.
Reed had already been unanimously selected by the Republican Senate supermajority at their caucus meeting this fall.
Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, will be the new Senate majority leader, the position that Reed previously held.
Marsh headed the Senate for more than a decade. Marsh — working with then Alabama Republican Party Chairman and House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn — engineered the 2010 election that ended 135 years of Democratic control and gave Republicans supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Then-Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, called the new Legislature into session in late 2010, and they passed comprehensive ethics reform.
Marsh and Hubbard then had to deal with the economic ramifications from the Great Recession, which wrecked state budgets, particularly the state General Fund, the budget which funds most non-education elements of the state government.
Hubbard and Marsh had a close working relationship, while relations with Gov. Robert Bentley were often strained. In 2016, Hubbard was convicted of felony ethics violations for running afoul of the comprehensive ethics reform package that he had championed in 2010. Bentley resigned over his own ethics failures rather than be impeached in 2017.
Then-Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey then moved to the governor’s mansion. Marsh then assumed the lieutenant governor’s powers to preside over the Senate until now-Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth was inaugurated in 2021.
“Since Republicans took the Legislature in 2010, Del Marsh has been an honest, inspirational, and fair-minded Senate President Pro Tem,” Ainsworth said on social media. “Our thanks to Sen. Marsh for helping reform AL’s government, and we wish our new Pro Tem Greg Reed much success as he leads the upper chamber.”
The Alabama Senate will meet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week and next. One of the first items of business for the Senate will be passing Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr’s bill limiting COVID-19 civil liability, Senate Bill 30.
The Alabama Senate has 35 members, but districts 14 and 26 are both currently vacant.