Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hot topic bills that never made it to Governor Riley's desk

The Alabama 2009 Legislative Session ended on Friday, March 15th around 4:00 pm central time. Just before the Senate adjourned, Senator Bobby Singleton made one last plea to call up SB135, his local Greene county bingo bill, for a vote. In the House of Representatives, Speaker Seth Hammett of Andalusia announced that, after serving eleven years as speaker, he will not seek re-election to the Alabama House in 2010. Happy Trails played on the speakers as members said their goodbyes and headed back to their respective districts.

Now that the House and Senate have adjourned sine die and Lt. Governor Folsom proclaimed this session as the most successful he has seen in his years presiding over the Senate, one might wonder what important legislation will not make it to Governor Riley’s desk this year. See below for some popular bills from the 2009 legislative session that will not have a chance for a signature or veto.

Until next year…

1. Grocery Tax: Legislation that would remove or adjust taxes on groceries died on the floor of the House of Representatives and in committee in the Senate.

2. Smoking Ban: Legislation that would prohibit smoking in public places and places of employment died on the Senate floor.

3. Gambling (Sweet Home Alabama Bill): Legislation that would establish and regulate bingo in certain counties died on the House and Senate floors.

4. Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program (PACT): Legislation that would aid the PACT program died in both houses, however the House and Senate passed a resolution that would have the Retirement Systems of Alabama conduct an actuarial stud of the financial issues of the PACT program and give recommendation to the Governor and Legislature.

5. PAC to PAC transfers: Legislation that would prohibit transfers from one political action committee to another passed the House but died in committee in the Senate.

6. Ethics: Legislation that would strengthen Alabama’s ethics laws for elected officials in the state of Alabama and give the ethics commission subpoena power died on the House floor.

7. DUI Laws Strengthened: Legislation that would strengthen the laws and consequences of receiving a DUI passed the House but died on the Senate floor.

8. Texting while driving ban: Legislation that would prohibit text messaging while operating a motor vehicle on a public street, road or highway passed the House but died in committee in the Senate.

9. Voter ID: Legislation that would require a photo ID to vote in an election died in committee in both houses.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Watch Inside Alabama's Legislature

In case you missed Inside Alabama's Legislature with Bob Howell last week, check it out below.

Watch Inside Alabama's Legislature

Watch the Strategy Room

Rick Journey hosts the weekly Strategy Room on Monday, May 18, 2009.

Watch the Stategy Room!

Look for a legislative wrap up coming soon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

House Adjourns for this 2009 Legislative Session

Speaker Seth Hammett Will Not Seek Re-election to House Seat in 2010

Speaker Seth Hammett from Covington County announced from the House floor prior to adjournment that he will not seek re-election to his House seat in 2010.

In a press release, he stated that "The time has come for me to step aside and make way for the next group of legislative leaders. This decision was made after many discussions over the past several months with my family. My decision is final."

Speaker Hammett first took office in 1978 and is one of only two speakers to serve three terms as presiding officer of the House.

He further stated that "I wanted to make this decision known because the political season will start in earnest the beginning of June and all involved deserve to know my intentions now."

During his announcement from the House floor, Speaker Hammett said that he has no intention of stepping down from his post as speaker until his term expires at the end of 2010.

Senate adjourns, SINE DIE!

The Alabama Senate adjourned, sine die, this afternoon at 3:15 pm. Members worked through an eight page special order calendar and concurred with the House on a number of pieces of legislation. The senate also voted to non-concur with Governor Riley on a number of different bills that he vetoed.

Stay tuned for information on hot topic legislation that did not make its way to Governor Riley’s desk this year.

Continue to follow us on TWITTER!

2009 Shroud Award Ceremony

The Alabama House of Representatives held the 31st Annual Shroud Award Ceremony for the deadest bill during the 2009 Legislative Session.

Runner's Up for this award included:

HB268 by Ron Johnson relating to salvage pools

HB338 by Jack Williams requiring reporting of animal abuse

HB536 by Joseph Mitchell requiring recording of debate in the House

HB412 by Tammy Irons regulating Individual Tax Preparers

HB629 by Craig Ford specifying school start date (Rep. Ford has been runner-up for "The Shroud", 3 out of last 4 years)

Various Governor's Ethics Bills

HJR91 by Demitrius Newton providing for election for Constitutional Convention

HB676 by Marcel Black regulating certain bingo facilities

"Sweet Home Alabama" plan

HB569 by Jamie Ison increasing insurance premiums for certain state employees

HB245 by Cam Ward banning cock fighting

At the end of the ceremony, it was declared that the Deadest Bill of the 2009 legislative session and winner of this year's Shroud Award is the Grocery Tax Bill, HB116 by John Knight.

House Commends Rep. John Knight

The House commended Rep. John Knight this afternoon for his service to the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

While serving overseas, Rep. Knight was awarded the Silver Star.

Senate sees a slow down

Ferociously working this morning the senate is slowing down this afternoon. Tensions rise over HB567 by Representative Johnson relating to prescription drug license taxes. Senator Bedford insists that this legislation be passed but Senator Quinton Ross continues to speak on the bill and stall passage.

House in Recess Until 12:45

House Flies Through Special Order Calendar

The Alabama House finished today’s special order calendar by 12:10 p.m.

The only business remaining for this legislative session in the House is to receive messages from the Senate and await reports from the Conference Committees.

The House expects to adjourn by 2:00 this afternoon.

Final legislative day!

Today is the final legislative day; the Alabama Senate convened at 9:00 am this morning. The senate continues to concur with the House on a number of bills and re-pass legislation with the Governor's veto not withstanding.

In addition to concurrences, Senator Ben Brooks introduced and passed a resolution commending Representative John Knight on his military service. All senators signed on as co-sponsors to the resolution.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Senate non-concurs with Governor's veto

The Alabama Senate voted this evening to non-concur and override Governor Riley's veto on HB746, the General Fund Budget. Vote: 19 yeas and 11 nays.

Senate takes up the General Fund Budget

After the House non-concurred with Governor Riley’s veto of HB746, the General Fund Budget, the senate will now vote to concur or non-concur with him.

Currently Senator Rodger Bedford is urging the senate to override Governor Riley’s veto. Bedford says that Governor Riley seeks help the people of Alabama in an unfair and improper manor. Bedford accused the Governor of caring more about healthcare of our prisoners than for its people.

Stay tuned for more updates, Senator Marsh is at the mic waiting for a turn to speak.


House Concurs with Free the Hops

The Alabama House just concured with the Senate changes to SB 373, the "Free the Hops" bill.

The Senate amendment would not allow the higher alcoholic content beers to be sold in convenient stores.

House Passes Budget, Non-concur With Governor Riley

In a 64 to 35 vote, the Alabama House did not concur with the Governor Riley's changes to the General Fund Budget.


Lt. Governor Jim Folsom called up HB373, Free the Hops, out of order at the call of the chair this afternoon. With Senator Hank Erwin, the main opponent to the bill, out of the Senate chamber the bill passed with flying colors. The Senate used the previous short roll which means Senator Erwin will actually go down as voting for the bill he fought so hard to kill.

HB373 will now go to Governor Riley's desk.

Ferrets Beware!

In a 101 – 0 vote, the Alabama House added ferrets to the list of animals required to be vaccinated (SB 469).

House Busy This Afternoon

The AL House passed the following mortgage and credit related bills:

• SB 232 relating to mortgage brokers licensing
• SB 234 dealing with consumer credit transactions
• SB 249 relating to mortgage loan originators


Listen to the House and Senate Live!


SENATE Chamber Audio

Senate overrides Governor Riley's veto on HB175

After passing numerous local bills this afternoon, the senate called up HB175, sponsored by Representative Jimmy Martin, pertaining to alcohol sales. This bill would authorize municipal option elections in municipalities having a population of 500 or more. Governor Riley used his veto on HB175 but the Senate voted to override the Governor veto with a vote of 18 yeas and 11 nays.

The senate adopted a large special order calendar totaling nearly fifty bills. Currently the senate is debating HB391 relating to tobacco.

Bishop video

To see the video of Senator Bishop punching Senator Lowell Barron in 2007 click on the link below.

View video

House Filibustering Over Tax Preparer Bill

The Alabama House has been debating SB 201 sponsored by Senator Quinton Ross for the past 45 minutes.

The bill would regulate individual income tax preparers and require those who provide such services to register with a State Board of Individual Income Tax Preparers.

Proponents argue that this bill will protect consumers seeking assistance from income tax preparers by ensuring that persons providing those services have a basic knowledge of the tax code as well as requiring continuing education courses.

Representative Tammy Irons stated that lower-income families often miss out on the earned income tax credit because of tax preparers’ lack of knowledge. She further elaborated that Alabamians leave some $133 million a year of unclaimed monies from the earned income tax credit.

Debate continues.

Bishop not running for re-election in 2010

Today Senator Charles Bishop, a republican from Jasper, announced that he will not run for re-election to the Alabama Senate in 2010. Senator Bishop has served three terms in the Alabama Senate.

Bishop issues this statement: “I have been blessed in my life,” said Bishop. “I have lived the American dream, and that dream for everyone is now in danger on both the national and state level, somewhere government lost its way.” “I am taking time to talk with friends and family about what this means, and what I can do to help the people of our state with the life experience that I have had.”

Senator Bishop is widely known as the senator who punched Senator Lowell Barron in the senate chambers on the final day of the 2007 legislative session.

28th Day in the Alabama Senate

The Alabama Senate convened this morning at 11:00 am and began to take up confirmations. After passing over twenty-five confirmations the Senate is now taking House message.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Alabama Senate.

Remember, you can also follow up on TWITTER!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

House and Senate continue to work

The House and Senate continue to work into the evening. The House of Representatives adopted a new special order calendar at 5:30 pm.

House concurs on the General Fund Budget

This afternoon the Alabama House concurred with the Senate on the General Fund Budget. The budget will now go to Governor Riley's desk for his signature.

Reps Mask and McCutcheon hold impromptu press conference

Representatives Barry Mask and Mac McCutcheon just held an impromptu press conference on the importance of the disputed 9 million dollars for the department of corrections in the general fund budget. According to both, it could cost 187 jobs and possible facility closures. The funding to the department of correction's- in house version of budget- was a bare bones budget, it provided for necessities only.

Stay tuned for more updates.

House sends General Fund Budget to conference committee

The Alabama House of Representatives voted this afternoon to send the General Fund Budget back to the conference committee.

The House and Senate continue to meet in unique/historic conditions.

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Alabama State House closed until Monday

The Alabama State House is closed until Monday, May 11th at the very earliest due to intense flooding this morning and early afternoon. Members and staff are allowed in only to retrieve personal belongings.

Alabama House and Senate continue to convene

The Alabama House and Senate continue to convene in chaotic circumstances.

The Alabama House is currently discussing the General Fund Budget. The Alabama Senate is hearing a message from the Governor pertaining to an amendment to on SB413.

High floods bring Philibuster

Senator Phil Poole has begun to filibuster this afternoon. Poole appears to be picking up where he left off from his former filibusters this session. Lt. Governor Folsom noted that cloture might be something members want to review if Senator Poole continues to filibuster.

Currently Senator Jimmy Holly is addressing the body noting the historical meaning of meeting in the Old Senate Chambers in the Alabama Capitol today.

Alabama House and Senate convene in the Alabama Capitol

The Alabama House and Senate came back from their recess this afternoon at the Alabama State Capitol. The House is meeting in their old House chambers and the Senate is meeting in their old chambers as well.

Conditions are not great for much work to take place but they continue to convene.

Some senators before taking their desk posed for pictures. We will have photos soon from the Capitol.

Stay tuned for more legislative updates from the Capitol.

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Follow todays live blog on Twitter from the Alabama Capitol!


Alabama State House being evacuated

The Alabama State House is being evacuated and the House and Senate will reconvene at the Alabama Capitol at 1:30 pm CST.

Storms cause stir at the Alabama State House

Picture #1: Dark clouds over the Alabama Capitol
Picture #2: Flooding at the entrance of the Alabama State House
Picture #3: Representatives working in the dark in the House of Representatives
Picture #4: Representative Chris England having to take the stairs

This morning the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate convened at 10:00 pm CST. By 10:30 both houses stood in recess due to intense flooding on the basement and first level of the state house, as well as flooding in the member and employee parking decks.

Senator Harri Anne Smith reported that her new car had flooding to the steering wheel at 10:30 and there were reports of floating cars in both the employee parking deck and on McDowell Lee Road just outside of the state house.

The power was shut off just after 11:00 am and those inside of the building were told not to use the elevator for safety reasons. Derek Hamilton, Chief Sargent at Arms for the Alabama State House, reported that there was four feet of water in the boiler room, saying it is the worst flooding he has seen his sixteen years at the state house.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Alabama State House.

Alabama State House begins to flood

The Alabama House and Senate have recessed for thirty minutes due to flooding in the lower levels of the state house. State House security has turned off the elevators and Senators and House of Representative member's vehicles are flooded in the lower parking deck.

Senator Harri Anne Smith said that her new vehicle is flooded to the steering wheel. Smith also noted that in the employee parking lot cars are flooded to their dashboard and one car has begun to float.

Currently the power is shut off and we are running on generators.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ticket Scalpers Beware

HB 71, given a thumbs-up from the House, creates a Class A misdemeanor for individuals selling counterfeit tickets to events such as sporting events.

It also specifies that the ticket must have the face value printed on it even if the ticket is being sold at a greater price than the original price authorized.

House Approves Physical Education Bill

The House just passed HB719 by a vote of 70 – 20. Sponsored by Rep. Ken Guin, this bill makes physical education mandatory for students enrolled in grades K – 8.

Currently, students may be allowed to substitute other courses such as music and band for physical education. This bill removes that option.

Concerns were raised in the House that physical education classes tend to be oversized, and this legislation would only add to that problem; however, no action was taken to address that issue.

HB719 now moves to the Senate for approval.

Republicans stalling a vote on HB64-Pittman reading the bill at length

Senator Trip Pittman along with senate republicans are stalling a vote on HB64 sponsored by Representative Buskey. HB64 would require the posting of notices of vacancies in the position of State Superintendent of Education, county and city superintendents of education, Chancellor of Postsecondary Education, and certain chief executive officers.

Pittman is currently taking his first hour by reading the twelve page bill at length.

Slow Day in the Alabama House

Today the House agreed upon a calendar that began with three bills to then be followed by a ten minute calendar.

With a ten minute calendar, House members agree to speak no longer than 10 minutes on any given bill after which they will vote on the bill.

Things did not progress so smoothly, however. The first three bills consumed the last 3 1/2 hours in the House, and they are just now beginning the 10 minute calendar.

Listen to the Alabama House of Representatives LIVE!

Listen to the Alabama House LIVE!

Senate does NOT override Governor Riley's veto on HB175

With a vote of 13 yeas and 15 nays, the senate did not override Governor Riley's veto on HB175. HB175, sponsored by Representative Jimmy Martin, pertains to alcohol sales and would authorize municipal option elections in municipalities having a population of 500 or more.

Senators preach against overriding Governor Riley's veto on HB175

The Senate is currently debating overriding Governor Riley’s veto on HB175 pertaining to alcohol sales which would authorize municipal option elections in municipalities having a population of 500 or more. Senator Hank Erwin continues to filibuster on this legislation. Allowing Senator Quinton Ross to speak; Ross condemned the body for not allowing Senator Bobby Singleton’s bill, SB135, to come up for a full body vote in the Senate.

Ross believes that the body should allow this bill to reach a full vote and allow the Governor to veto the bill if he is going to veto it. Senator Ross does not agree with the hypocrisy in the senate that would stand in the way of local legislation yet try to override Governor Riley’s veto on legislation pertaining to alcohol.

Senator Charles Bishop spoke against overriding the legislation and Senator Bobby Singleton gave a lively, passionate speech.


Mr. Majority "so called" Leader

SB407, sponsored by Senator Rodger Bedford, pertaining to the lawful possession of a firearms in a motor vehicle was carried with Senator Author Orr's amendment pending. Senator Vivan Figures was not pleased with Senator Zeb Little, majority leader of the senate democrats, asking to call over this piece of legislation because it stood in the way of the amendments she wanted to offer.

Figures livened up the room by telling Senator Zeb Little how upset she was calling him Mr. Majority "so called" leader. Some members of the republican party clapped their hands and/or laughed at this comment.

Senate debates legislation for lawful possession of a firearm in a parked vehicle

The Alabama Senate is currently debating SB407 pertaining to the lawful possession of a firearm in a parked motor vehicle. Senator Rodger Bedford is the sponsor of this bill and believes it is important for citizens to have this right. Bedford made reference to a person driving home on a deserted road and getting a flat tire. Senator Trip Pittman also noted that some workers enjoy hunting before and after work.

PACT Program resolution sent to the rules committee

The Alabama Senate discussed SJR135 sponsored by Senator Del Marsh pertaining to the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (PACT) program. This resolution would set up a committee that would study the problem with the PACT program and require that they report their findings on the fifth legislative day of the 2010 session.

Senator Rodger Bedford spoke on the bill nothing that this is not a problem that the Legislature or the Governor made, its something that State Treasurer Kay Ivey ran into the ground. Bedford said that he doesn’t believe we should pay hired help to address this issue.

Senator Holly spoke to the resolution and said that this resolution does not addresses the actuary as not being as bad as it actually is in reality. Holly believes that this resolution does not solve the issues with the PACT program; it simply looks at its issues. Holly noted that he is not interested in studying the issue; he is interested in solving the issue. Holly said Governor Riley’s purpose in visiting the senate today was to come over and discuss with members of the body and the Lt. Governor the issues with the pact program. Holly asked that the resolution be sent to the Rules committee.

Governor Riley wants more accomplished before the final day of the legislative session

Governor Bob Riley spoke with the media this morning at 11:30. Riley noted that he has four or five projects that he is interested in seeing passed this legislative session. The PACT program is one of those programs that the Governor believes the senate needs to act on now. Governor Riley said that he is not satisfied with the resolution that was passed pertaining to the PACT program earlier in the legislation session.

Governor Riley is also concerned about the General Fund Budget and the nine million dollars that was taken from the corrections department and put into pork barrel projects. Pork barrel projects are appropriations of government spending for localized projects that bring money to a representative's district. Riley noted that with the restraints we have on our economy there is no reason to take away this money from corrections for these types of projects. Governor Riley further stated that each year he tells the legislature he wants to end pass through pork and it has not happened yet.

Speaking on ethics legislation, Governor Riley said we are so close to having this legislation passed. Riley has been pushing for this legislation for the past five years. He believes the people of Alabama want this type of honesty and clarity in Government to pass.

Governor Riley continues to visit the Alabama Senate, tensions continues to rise

Governor Riley continues to visit the senate speaking with a number of members. Riley spent at least twenty minutes huddled with Lt. Governor Jim Folsom and Senator Trip Pittman. Currently Governor Riley is speaking with Senator Lowell Barron; by their facial reactions and hand movements their conversation must be interesting.

Senator Scott Beason asked for Senator Hank Sanders’ resolution, SJR26 to be read at length, and then Senator Larry Dixon began to stall and question Sander’s resolution pertaining to the Amistad Commission.

Tensions continue to rise, members on both sides seem to be on edge.

House Criticizes Senate Version of General Fund Budget

Chair of the Government Appropriations Committee in the House, Rep. John Knight, spoke this morning in reference to the version of the General Fund Budget that was passed late last night by the Senate.

Because of the number of changes that were made to the version the House passed, Rep. Knight proposed that the budget go to a conference committee. He elaborated that they had worked very hard to present a reasonable budget for the people of Alabama and that the Senate’s version is “totally unacceptable.”

Apparently, the Senate version of the budget includes a number of line-items allotting dollars to specific cities and entities – more familiarly referred to as “pork”.

Representative Mac Gipson ( R ) of Autauga County commented that the budget looks like a “senate re-election” budget.

Along the same tenor as Rep. Gipson, Rep. Jay Love ( R ) of Montgomery further stated that he was “afraid swine flu has made its way into the Alabama Legislature after looking at this budget.”

Both commended Representative Knight for his diligent work toward passing a responsible budget for the state.

The House voted in favor of Rep. Knight’s motion to take the General Fund Budget to conference committee with members of the Senate.

Governor Riley visits the Alabama Senate

Governor Riley is currently visiting the Alabama Senate.

Pictured, Govenor Bob Riley, Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Senator Trip Pittman

House Debates Joint Resolution Calling for Constitutional Convention

This morning, the House briefly debated HJR 91 that would call for a constitutional convention in Alabama.

With disagreement in the House over the matter and a full calendar ahead to consider for this legislative day, the House tabled the resolution so as to move forward with the business of the House today.

Senate heats up early, Governor Riley visits Senate

The Alabama Senate convened this morning at 10:00 pm just twelve hours after adjourning late last night. After passing a resolution by Senator Linda Coleman, Senator Rodger Bedford brought up SB56 pertaining to water and sewer services. Senator Larry Dixon questioned Bedford to insure that Montgomery County was exempt. Following Dixon, Senator Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills questioned Bedford about the city of Birmingham.

Things began to heat up when Senator Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham took the mic and addressed Senator Waggoner stating that he was over stepping his grounds by asking questions about the city of Birmingham. Smitherman and Waggoner share representation of Jefferson County with Steve French, Linda Coleman, Scott Beason, Hank Erwin, and Charles Bishop.

Governor Riley is visiting the Alabama Senate, there is word that he is here to discuss the general fund budget.

Listen to the ALABAMA Senate LIVE!

House Passes Two Education-Related Bills in the Evening

A bill we followed in committee last week received the go-ahead vote in the House early into the evening hours. By a 99 – 0 vote, HB 810 passed the House.

This bill makes it a criminal offense for a school official to engage in sexual activity with a student.

Per our coverage of the committee meeting last week, the version which came out of committee included language that defined an age limit for a student being under the age of 19.

This was added to the bill in order to prevent students working on college campuses from being prosecuted for having relationships with fellow students under this legislation.

The second bill which passed the House is SB 334. It raises the school drop-out age from 16 years of age to 18.

Because the House passed the Senate’s version of this bill, it now moves to the Governor’s Office for final approval.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Alabama Senate adjourns at 10:00 pm due to lack of quorum

The senate held a quorum call at 10:00 pm CST this evening. With only sixteen senators present in the chamber, Lt. Governor Folsom adjourned the Senate until 10:00am CST tomorrow morning.

Senate republicans exited the chamber just prior to a quorum call in a chance to keep the body from reaching quorum and continuing with business.

Senate passes General Fund Budget

At 9:53 pm the Alabama Senate passed the General Fund Budget with a vote of 29 yeas and 3 nays.

The Senate continues to convene in the late hours of the night.

Singleton and Bedford trying to rally the troops and work into the wee hours of the night

Senator Bobby Singleton and Senator Rodger Bedford are fired up and want to get to work this evening. Singleton asked the senate to pass the general fund budget and then allow Senator Lowell Barron, rules chairman, to propose another special order calendar with BINGO on top of the calendar so the Senate could work into the wee hours of the night.

Singleton noted that if BINGO was the first bill on the special order calendar then surely all republican senators would be on the senate floor, unlike currently during the reading at length of the general fund budget.

Senate continues to convene, republicans continue to stall

The Alabama Senate continues to meet with the General Fund Budget being read at length. The reading of the one hundred twenty eight page budget began at 4:55 and is currently just past half way through. It is estimated to take until 8:30 pm to finish HB746's full reading.

Since beginning its reading at length at 4:55, two quorum calls have passed which keeps the senate in session.

Senate works into the evening, Senate Rep's continue to stall a vote on the General Fund

The Alabama Senate is still meeting; currently HB746 by Representative Knight, the General Fund Budget, is being read at length. Senator Ben Brooks who requested the reading at length also requested a quorum call which passed at 6:15 pm.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Alabama Senate.

Two Firearms Bills Pass House

The House passed two firearms bills late in the day today.

The first, HB596, prohibits the possession, sale, or use of short-barreled rifles or shotguns.

The second bill, HB362, allows for lawful possession of a firearm in a parked motor vehicle. This legislation was aimed at allowing employees of companies to lawfully keep their personal firearm inside the vehicle while on the companies’ premesis.

Catfish on the Menu?

For all of you catfish lovers out there, the House passed HB 473 late in the day today which will require food service establishments to display where the catfish they are serving originated.

With growing public concerns over the safety of foreign foods coming into the United States, this bill will give further protection and information to the consumer.

It was pointed out on the House floor that China in particular has been dumping catfish onto our market and portraying them as farm-raised. The Chinese safety standards for catfish are drastically lower from our own standards.

HB 473 must still pass the Senate before going to the Governor’s desk.

Senate Democrats cloture Senate Republicans

The senate voted on a petition to cloture Senator Ben Brooks and the filibustering senate republicans this afternoon at 4:45 pm. With a vote of 18 yeas and 11 nays the petition to cloture was successful. The senate republicans pleaded with those who wished to cloture for more time to review the general fund budget.

Immediately following, Senator Rodger Bedford offered an amendment to the General Fund Budget from Governor Riley. With a vote of 32 yeas and 0 nays Senator Bedford's amendment passed.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Alabama Senate.

Listen Live!

Senate Republicans continue to filibuster the General Fund Budget

Senate republicans continue to filibuster the General Fund Budget. Currently Senator Larry Dixon is at the mic stalling passage of the budget.

Rep. Thomas Threatens to Filibuster Ethics Bill Should It Come Before the House

Standing in support of the bill that would remove the sales tax from groceries, Representative James Thomas (D) hailed that this, referring to HB 116, "is the most ethical thing we can do for the citizens of the state of Alabama."

He told members not to even think about bringing another bill – which he later specified as the ethics bill. Representative Thomas said that they would have to physically remove him from the podium before he saw the ethics bill pass.

Tune-In to the Alabama House of Representatives

Click here to listen to the Alabama House of Representatives Live!

Lawmakers “On Fire” Over Grocery Tax Bill

Today’s House consent calendar began with HB 116, the grocery tax bill sponsored by Representative John Knight.

For those of you who have been following our blog this session, you will recall that this is the very same bill that virtually shut down the House with a filibuster for a month. Its presence on today’s operating calendar was the fourth time it has appeared for a vote.

Representative Knight said today that this bill is an “economic incentive package for working families of this state.”

Seeking recognition from Speaker Hammett, Representative Duwayne Bridges ( R ) from Chambers County took the podium and lit a candle in remembrance of small businesses in this state who he said have been taxed to death.

HB 116 would remove the state’s portion of the sales tax on groceries but at the same time would seek to make up those forgone dollars by removing the federal income tax deduction for certain individuals meeting an adjusted gross income threshold. Those in opposition to the bill argue that it would place more of a tax burden on small businesses in Alabama including LLC’s, LLP’s, and S-Corps.

Representative Bridges went on to ask the House membership why they would want to further tax the very people who are providing jobs in Alabama? He reported that the International Council of Shopping Centers forecasts that 200,000 businesses in the U.S. will close by the end of this year alone. He said that small businesses are being taxed too much already and the brunt of taxes are being placed on their backs.

At the conclusion of Rep. Bridges’ remarks, Rep. Knight asked for the candle and re-lit it in remembrance of the children in Alabama who have no groceries and those who cannot perform properly in school because they are hungry.

HB 116 failed by one vote to gain enough support to move forward for a final vote in the House.

After the vote failed, Representative Mike Hubbard, Chair of the Republican Party in Alabama, commented that they had offered a compromise but the Democrats working on the grocery tax bill would not sit down with them. He stated that Republicans are not in opposition of removing the sales tax from groceries but are opposed to removing the federal income tax deduction.

The Republicans’ alternative to HB 116 would provide a tax rebate for low income families, a plan similar to the ones already in place in Idaho, Hawaii, and Oklahoma, but the Democrats refused to meet with them. Representative Hubbard stated that their bill had failed to even come up for consideration in committee.

Senate takes up General Fund Budget

The Alabama Senate is currently debating the General Fund Budget. Senator Jimmy Holly is filibustering the budget at the moment.

LISTEN to the General Fund Budget debate LIVE!

Erwin speaking on the "evils" of alcohol

Senator Hank Erwin continues to speak against SB263, share stories, and speak on the evils of consuming alcohol.

Erwin says he would ban all alcohol if he had it his way.

Stay connected for more happenings from the Alabama Senate.

Erwin continues to stall legislation pertaining to alcohol

The Alabama Senate is currently debating SB263 by Senator Steve French regarding the sale of wine with increased alcohol content. Senator Hank Erwin continues to filibuster on this legislation, but Senator French noted that he wants to get this legislation passed this session.

Debate on the General Fund Budget will commence momentarily, stay tuned.

Listen to the Alabama Senate LIVE!


Senator Bobby Denton will not run for re-election in 2010

This morning the Alabama Senate convened at 10:00 am, Senator Trip Pittman opened the morning by reading a letter from Paul Harvey Jr. thanking the body for the resolution they passed on behalf of his father, Paul Harvey Sr. upon his death.

Following Senator Pittman’s comments, Senator Bobby Denton rose to the mic for a point of personal privilege to plead with the Senate to put their ill feelings toward members in the House of Representatives aside and do the business of the people. Senator Denton also noted that he will not run for re-election in 2010.

Denton received a standing ovation and hugs upon completing his plea to the full body.

Senator Charles Bishop rebutted by telling Senator Denton he loved him but they are never going to all vote the same way every time. Senator Bishop thanked Denton for all of the years he allowed him to be his friend and told him he is not a fallen star; he is a star that will never fall.

Senators Rodger Bedford, Larry Dixon, Linda Coleman, and Steve French are also in line to thank Senator Denton for all of his work in the Alabama Senate.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Watch Inside Alabama's Legislature with Bob Howell

Watch Inside Alabama's Legislature with Bob Howell and special guests Senator Wendell Mitchell and Representative Jay Love.

CLICK HERE if the video does not load.