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Wrapping up the 2001 session

The 2001 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature is now history.

We accomplished a number of very significant goals, but we also left unresolved some important issues.

For example, we passed both the Education Fund Budget and the General Fund Budget in record time.

The Secretary of the Senate said that he cannot remember any legislative body which approved both budgets two weeks in advance of the closing day of the session and which budgets did not go to a conference committee for resolution.

In other words, the House and the Senate approved both budgets without having to negotiate any matters of disagreement.

On the other hand, the legislature did not deal effectively with proration in the Education Budget.

I might share this with you.

I was recently in South Carolina and Tennessee and both of these states are wrestling with proration and reduced funding for education in their next fiscal years.

The more I see of this issue, the more persuaded I am that the downturn in the national economy is the major culprit, although the respective state legislatures could come up with some long term funding plans that might be a long term solution to the problem.

I have said this a number of times in my column, but all the polls of Alabama citizens reflect an unwillingness to pay additional taxes and as long as this is the attitude of the voters, you may be assured that a majority of the Legislature will not address the problem through increased taxes.

I thought it interesting that not only did Butler County recently approve its ad valorem tax on the ballot but Mobile County gave overwhelming support to a much more radical property tax increase.

It may be that the citizens of the state are beginning to change their mind about funding sources for public education.

The identity theft bill has now been signed into law by the governor.

This gives all of us more protection against credit card fraud.

The governor also signed a bill last week that allows small gun reciprocity.

Before this bill became law, Alabama did not recognize permits for small guns issued in other states when an individual brought a weapon into Alabama.

Conversely, since Alabama did not have a reciprocity law, the other states did not recognize Alabama permits when our citizens took small weapons into adjoining states.

This has changed with the governor's signature on this new law.

The governor has indicated that he will call a special session in July for legislative reapportionment.

The reapportionment committee is presently working on a plan for the new districts for all State Senators and House members.

I expect the first proposals in this regard to be made public in about two weeks.

I do not anticipate much change in our Senate or House districts.

In next week's column I will have a wrap up of all major bills which passed the Legislature, and those important issues which failed.

In the meantime, remember that "I'll go with you or I'll go for you" to help you solve any problem related to state government.

You can write me at P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049, or Room 735 Alabama State House, 11 South Union Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36130.