Alabama Legislature makes progress

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 2, 2002

The Alabama Senate was very productive and efficient last week, passing two major pieces of legislation and debating several key issues which are on the "front burner."

The Senate gave approval to a bill realigning Alabama's congressional and state school board districts.

This is the first time in over 30 years that the State Senate has passed a state legislative plan, congressional redistricting plan, and state school board plan.

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Unfortunately, in years past these matters have been left to the courts to decide.

Several editorials across the state have commended the Senate for its action in "getting the job done" on these important issues.

We now will turn our attention to several important pieces of legislation which have already been passed by the House of Representatives.

Among these are the voter identification bill, the graduated teenager driver license bill and the child restraint law.

In addition to these three measures which have come to the Senate, the public hearings on the budgets almost have been completed and they will be taken up by both the House and Senate in the next few weeks.

The form of the voter identification bill will probably generate the most debate on this particular issue.

An earlier version introduced in the Senate would require a voter to show a picture ID, whereas the House passed version of this bill allows identification to be made by any of 12 sources, such as a social security card or a birth certificate.

The intent of this law is to eliminate voter fraud and most states in the nation have adopted similar legislation.

This has been a very busy week for your senator.

In addition to meeting in session with the legislature three days last week, I attended a meeting of the Butler County Industrial Manufacturers Association in Greenville on Thursday night, participated in the annual Pike County Chamber of Commerce dinner on Friday night in Troy, met with a group of pharmacists on Tuesday night in Montgomery, participated in a public hearing on local legislation in Millbrook on Tuesday evening, attended a breakfast in Prattville to meet their new Chamber of Commerce executive director on Thursday morning, and swore in a new probate judge for Crenshaw County on Friday afternoon.

What I learned from these meetings is very valuable in my public service to the counties I represent.

Butler County is preparing for the possible advent of Hyundai Corporation locating its first plant in America in the Montgomery area.

In addition to the jobs created by a large automobile company such as Hyundai, the spinoff from this plant locating near Butler County could result in several other new industries locating in our area.

When the Mercedes plant came to the Tuscaloosa area, the benefit in jobs was felt as far south as the Prattville community.

There are three plastic companies located in Autauga County which supply materials and parts to the Mercedes plant, without which plant they would certainly not be in Alabama.

The public hearing in Millbrook is a test with respect to how local communities react to proposed home rule legislation.

Many local governments have approached me through the years seeking some form of home rule.

I find the Elmore County community to be almost equally divided on whether or not they desire such legislation to pass.

There are some strong points about local communities having various authority and powers which they do not presently have, but there is also a downside in that it removes a check and balance which is so important to our democratic form of government.

I would like to see appropriate authority granted to our local communities.

It is just a question of defining what the limits of such authority might be.

All of this may be addressed very soon in the revisions to the Alabama Constitution.

Home rule is one of the four major issues which will be involved in settling the questions about the content of any new constitution.

You can reach me while the Legislature is in session at 334-242-7883, or write me at 735 Alabama Statehouse, 11 South Union Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36130.

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