There are now 62 Republicans and 43 Democrats in the Alabama House of Representatives. The state Senate will now have 22 Republicans, 12 Democrats and one independent. The GOP planned to take over the Legislature and it certainly did and by a landslide. It’s fairly safe to predict that there will be no new taxes passed by the Alabama Legislature next year. Neither do I believe we will see any bills pushed to expand gambling in Alabama. Those two predictions are safe to make since all GOP legislators – without exception – are on record as opposing both taxes and gambling.
Newly-elected lawmakers took office in early November and are scheduled to meet on January 11th to formally elect their leaders. The 15-week regular session of the Legislature starts on March 1st. But the Legislature could meet sooner if Governor Riley calls a special session on ethics legislation. It appeared at press time that he would.
Governor-elect Robert Bentley, who is to be inaugurated on January 17th, and all of the top Republican legislators, have stated that a huge issue they will face right off the bat in the regular session is passing balanced budgets for the 2012 fiscal year, which starts on October 1st. In my opinion, that will be a most difficult task and that is an understatement. Among other problems, Alabama’s education budget and the state’s operating budget for non-education agencies had as much as $895 million in federal stimulus money to spend this year, but will have none in fiscal 2012. That creates a huge problem for the new Governor and the GOP-controlled Legislature. I know that Dr. Bentley is well aware of the magnitude of the financial problems.
The Legislature is also supposed to redraw Alabama’s seven Congressional districts in time for the 2012 elections and all the Legislative districts in time for the 2014 elections. Redrawing lines to include some areas and exclude others can change party leanings in a district. It will be most interesting to see how this works out. Other GOP priorities that key legislators say they will push next year are set out below. It appears bills will be introduced and pushed hard to:
The political experts are saying people in our state will hold Republicans, who are now in total command, accountable. If the legislators fail to address the issues they ran on, things will change for them and very quickly. Folks in Alabama – along with the rest of the nation – are generally mad and upset. This accounts for lots of incumbents being voted out of office. The legislative chambers are always a good target for the public’s discontent, and with all of the problems facing our state, next year will be no different.
Source: Associated Press
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