Legislature set to close this week

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 20, 2002

The annual session of the Alabama Legislature will end this week and all the pundits will make their respective assessments on the "legislative scorecard."

I believe the majority of those assessments will be very good. This legislature has passed both the general fund budget and the education budget in record time; it has passed and gotten approval by the U.S. Justice Department redistricting legislation for Congress, the state school boards and the legislature

something that has not been done in my or your lifetime, and it has produced over a dozen major new laws designed to help our citizens.

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The legislature also played a significant role in the acquisition of the Hyundai plant. Several bills containing incentive measures were given expeditious treatment by the House and Senate and, according to the Hyundai officials, was the key ingredient in their final decision to come to south Alabama.

The budgets are balanced and have backup measures to guard against any proration of funds. These budgets provide three-percent cost of living raises for public education employees and state employees.

Some of the other significant measures which have been successfully dealt with include cost of living raises for retired education and state employees, a bill placing a curfew and new restrictions on 16-and 17-year-old drivers of automobiles, legislation to change the state's primary method of execution to lethal injection, and a measure to raise Alabama's unemployment compensation rate.

The senate has passed a bill which would ban smoking in most public places, legislation to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in schools and public buildings, a measure to require clinics to provide specific information about fetal development and abortion alternatives at least 24 hours before performing an abortion, a bill to require all education employees with unsupervised access to children to undergo criminal background checks, and a bill to make it much tougher on criminals who commit terrorist attacks.

These bills must be considered and approved by the House of Representatives this week in order to become law.

This has been one of the most productive Senates that I have had the privilege of serving in. I see more good things happening in Alabama than I have in a long time. Industrial development is definitely on the upswing in our state, and that should mean more job opportunities and more state revenues.

The tragedies of last September had a more profound effect on the economies of America than most of us have realized. When citizens stop traveling and stop spending, as the case has been over the past nine months, it has a direct and significant impact upon all programs in all 50 states. Alabama is fortunate that the citizenry has been able to cope with this situation and balance our state budgets without increasing sales tax, income tax or property tax.

Next week I will give you a complete wrap up on the final actions of your Alabama Legislature. In the meantime remember, "I'll go with you or I'll go for you" to help you solve any problem related to state government.