Senate passes 56 bills; teachers to receive pay raise

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 23, 2002

The Senate had a special visitor this past week

General Harold Moore, an Alabamian who led American ground forces in the first major battle of the Vietnam War. His heroics were so outstanding that a movie has been made about the battle and it is presently showing at theaters throughout America.

The movie, We Were Soldiers, stars Mel Gibson, who plays the role of Gen. Moore. He is depicted as a person much respected and beloved by his soldiers in his unit, and he gave a moving speech to the senate recalling all the particulars about this particular Vietnam engagement.

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Gen. Moore lost 79 men in the battle and to this day he remembers the name of every soldier. His wife, Julie, hand-delivered the death notices to all 79 families who lost their love ones.

Moore's speech seemed to motivate the senate to put its "shoulder to the wheel", as my father used to say. After he and his wife left the chamber, the senate passed 56 bills which, based on my recollection, is almost a record for a single day.

As I have stated on a number of occasions, we probably have too many laws as it is, and passing bills in record numbers is not always good.

However, I can report to you that the great majority of these bills which we passed were important, but non-controversial.

In other words, from time to time there is a need to update or amend a law already on the books and these technical changes usually are handled without much debate or controversy. This was generally the case last week.

There is one bill which we dealt with that I would like to mention. The senate passed a bill authorizing the state to spend up to $118.5 million to entice Hyundai Motor Company into building a $1 billion automotive plant just south of Montgomery on Interstate 65 going toward Greenville. Hyundai has said that Alabama and Kentucky are finalists for the plant which is expected to employ over 2,000 people.

The bill would authorize the Alabama Public School and College Authority to sell $75 million in bonds and to redirect $43.5 million previously authorized for Mercedes to other automotive projects.

If this automotive plant comes to Montgomery, it will have a major impact on all surrounding counties, including those in our senate district. We should know something within the next few weeks concerning the outcome of this project.

While the senate was dealing with non-controversial issues, the Alabama House of Representatives passed the education budget. As passed, this budget contains a three percent cost of living pay raise for teachers.

Teachers deserve this modest pay raise, but it has been very difficult finding the money to grant it because of two straight years of proration in the education fund.

With the passage of the fundraising measures in the last special session and the slight rebound in the economy, the house members felt like the funds would be there to give this raise.

It is now up to the senate as to whether or not it remains in the bill.

Until next week, remember that "I'll go with you or I'll go for you" to help you solve any problem related to state government. While we are in session, you can reach me at 334-242-7883, or write me at 735 Alabama State House, 11 South Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36130.