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Lawmakers want to use special session to remove procedural step

The legislation would remove the requirement for a budget isolation resolution on local bills and constitutional amendments.

State Sen. Clyde Chambliss

Alabama lawmakers plan to use the redistricting special session to dramatically alter the way some legislation moves through the Legislature. 

Legislation approved by committees in both the House and Senate on Tuesday would remove the requirement for a Budget Isolation Resolution (BIR) on local legislation and constitutional amendments. The bills were sponsored by Rep. Jim Carns, R-Vestavia Hills, and Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville. 

The BIR is a procedural step that requires all legislation debated prior to the passage of the state’s two budgets to receive three-fifths approval before debate can proceed. 

In most legislative sessions, the two budgets – the general fund and the education trust fund – don’t pass until after the halfway point, and sometimes much later. That means that all bills debated prior to that point must first receive three-fifths approval before lawmakers can move forward with a vote. 

The “BIR” procedural step has been a major stumbling block for controversial and complicated pieces of legislation, such as gambling, and typically pushes most local bills to the final days of a session. 

But the House State Government Committee and the Senate Confirmation Committee approved a constitutional amendment on Tuesday that would exempt local legislation and constitutional amendments. All other bills would still be subject to the BIR. 

However, to make the change will also require three-fifths approval in both houses … and then the approval of the voting public, which has final say on all constitutional amendments. 

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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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