The Alabama Legislature started its Regular Session on February 5th, and from all accounts, this will be a most interesting session. Hopefully, it will also be productive. Based on reports, there will be at least three separate agendas, with one, as expected, coming from Gov. Robert Bentley. But two additional agendas, one coming from the Republican legislative leaders and the other from the Democratic legislative leaders, will also be presented. That should make for a pretty lively Session.
Normally the Governor presents his legislative programs and the leaders in both the House and Senate support the programs if they are from the same political party. It’s quite evident that since the Republicans control both the House and Senate, the Democrats will have great difficulty getting very much of their agenda enacted into law. I also have to wonder how much support the Governor will get from some of the Republicans who might be “gubernatorial wanna-bes.”
It will be very interesting to see how the legislators deal with the severe money shortages facing both state government and public education during the Session. The days of depending on federal funds to bail the states out and the state’s borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars from trust funds are over. The Governor and the legislature will now have to find more money from some source or essential services will have to be drastically cut. But services can only be cut so much. Gutting essential services, in my opinion, would be a major mistake. I also believe that politicians “beating up” on state employees, including school teachers and law enforcement personnel, would be another big mistake. I am convinced that we have dedicated folks working for the state and also teaching school in Alabama. They deserve our support in my opinion. In any event, this Session will be one to watch very closely. If I were a betting man, which I am not, I would put my money on Gov. Bentley and his team to get his programs passed in the session since he appears to have strong support in every section of the state.
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