Senate passes 114 new bills

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 19, 2001

The Alabama Legislature last week had its most productive period during this entire regular session.

The Senate passed both the General Fund Budget and the Education Fund Budget, as well as 114 new pieces of legislation.

Forty-two of these bills were House measures so they go directly to the Governor for his review.

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If he signs them, they will become law.

The balance of the bills were Senate bills and now they must go to the House of Representatives and be passed there before they can become laws through the Governor's signature.

The House of Representatives placed the gambling bills on their agenda but pulled them off at the last minute because of lack of support.

As I reported to you last week, I voted against these gambling bills but they passed the Senate by a vote of 18-17.

It is doubtful that the House will take them up again this session.

Monday, May 21, is the last meeting day of this regular session for 2001.

Among the major issues yet to be passed are the Governor's bond issues for industrial development and the school systems.

There is general agreement on the importance of the industrial development bond Issue, since it services the Honda plant and the Mercedes operation, but there is disagreement within the education community over the necessity of the school bond issue.

The school bond issue bill has become tagged as the "loser's proration account bill."

It is so named because the proceeds from the bonds would be assigned to either higher education or elementary and secondary education, depending upon the outcome of a proration law suit pending before the Alabama Supreme Court.

Elementary and secondary education leaders see this as their opportunity to totally avoid proration, therefore, they support it, while higher education is labeling the selling of bonds for the operation of the universities as a fiscally irresponsible move.

It is true that most bond issues are for capital improvements, but without new tax revenue I see no possible way for higher education to get additional funds other than through this bond issue.

I know we are all hoping that the economy will turn around soon.

I am no economist or financial forecaster, but it appears to me that we are continuing to spiral downward.

June 5 technically kicks off the next election cycle in Alabama.

The law states that candidates for public office can begin fund raising activities one year preceding the primary, which will be one year from the first Tuesday in June.

I already see some activity.

Congressman Bob Riley from Ashland has announced he will run for Governor, Senator Jeff Sessions has announced he will seek reelection and has invited President Bush to Alabama to speak at a rally in his behalf, and Lucy Baxley has announced she will be a candidate for Lt. Governor.

It seems like we just got through with an election and another one is cranking up.

I guess politics is just meant to keep things interesting.

But for my view it seems to come around all too often.

Until next week, please know that "I'll go with you or I'll go for you" to help you solve any problem related to state government.

My telephone number during the legislative session is 334-242-7883.

Please feel free to call me at any time.