Thursday, March 12, 2009

Senate Commerce, Transportation, and Utilities Committee Meeting

Today the Commerce, Transportation, and Utilities Committee of the State Senate passed HB 282 sponsored by Representative Mac Gipson. This legislation encompasses issues related to driver’s licenses and driver training programs, sets age requirements for licensed drivers with a student, age requirements for licensed drivers accompanying a driver with a learner’s permit, places restrictions on persons 17 years of age with a regular drivers license, and creates a three-stage graduated licensing requirement.

According to the bill, the following are the three stages for the graduated license: stage 1 – learner’s permit. Stage 2 – a regular driver’s license with restrictions based on age and date of issuance. Stage 3 – an unrestricted driver’s license.

HB 282 now awaits action by the Senate.

An Entertaining End to the 12th Legislative Day in the House

Some comedic relief came to the House this afternoon as representatives attempted to garner enough votes to adjourn for spring break. After a couple of failed attempts to adjourn had already taken place, Representative Guin made yet another motion to adjourn and stated that he would continue to make motions after every bill.

A little over-confident that they would have enough votes to head home, a few legislators began walking toward the door when a tied vote came in. Yells and laughter filled the room and they returned to their seats. HB 559 was then passed, and Representative Guin returned to the podium to make his third attempt to adjourn. This time he was successful by 2 votes.

The House of Representatives observe spring break next week and will return to work on Tuesday, March 24th.

Filibustering in the House Continues Into the Afternoon

The twelfth legislative day in the Alabama House began as a productive day this morning while legislators voted on resolutions and passed the first item on the agenda, Officer Houts Act, which had been delayed from Tuesday for clarification.

The bill was amended to zero in on the type of officer that can actually make an arrest of an individual eluding an officer. It also protects citizens from being charged with eluding an officer while trying to find a safe place to pull over so long as they perform some type of activity (such as slowing down or turning hazard lights on) to alert the officer that they are aware of him / her.

Things slowed to a virtual stand-still after the second bill, HB 175, relating to alcoholic beverages was introduced. Opponents of the bill as well as others opposed to a bill further down the calendar began filibustering. Representative Rogers said that he was going to filibuster until Representative McClendon agreed to carry over his bill, HB 152, to another day. Shortly thereafter, Representative Laird made a motion to adjourn since the legislature will be on spring break next week. The motion failed by a vote of 18 yea’s and 49 no’s.

The filibuster continued after the lunch break and another failed attempt was made to adjourn for spring break by Representative Bridges.

At 2:00 the filibuster broke and HB 175 passed; however, activity has slowed as representatives continue to take advantage of the full time allowed for debate.

Senate Republicans Continue to Filibuster

Filibustering continues in the Alabama Senate. Senator Rusty Glover’s SB15 pertaining to eluding a police officer is up for a vote currently. For the past hour and a half the senate republicans have been filibustering on Senator Glover’s bill but not because of the piece of legislation rather because of the lack of the rules chairman, Senator Lowell Barron, to provide the senate republican’s with the special order calendar one day before the following legislative day.

According to Senator Scott Beason (R), this filibuster is about good government, transparency, honesty and openness in the senate for the people of Alabama. Senator Beason noted that not only senators, but the people of the state should know what will be debated in the senate ahead of time. Receiving the special order calendar ahead of time would give senators time to do research on legislation so they will know exactly what a piece of legislation is going to do and how it will affect the state.

Filibustering in the Senate this 12th Legislative Day

This morning the Alabama Senate convened at 10:00 am CST and opened by discussing the murders in South Alabama. Senator Smith introduced Congressman Bobby Bright who flew home from Washington to help after the events of Tuesday afternoon. Congressman Bright commended the law enforcement, the community and Governor Riley for their help in the wake of this tragic incident.

After committee reports and introductions of bills, Senator Barron presented his resolution from the Rules committee for the Special Order calendar. Upon the introduction Senator Jabo Waggoner rose to the mic to discuss the fact that Senator Barron did not present this calendar to the minority 24 hours before the following legislative day as previously request on the 11th legislative day.

Senator Beason also rose to agree with Senator Waggoner. Beason further stated that as a legislator it is unwise not to receive the calendar ahead of time because it does allow legislators the appropriate time to do their homework on the bills.

It appears that the minority party, republicans, is looking to filibuster on the Senate floor this afternoon. Currently Senator Marsh is filibustering SB383 introduced by Senator Little however, he is speaking in regards to the timeliness of receiving the special order calendar further conveying what Senators Waggoner and Beason have already addressed.

Senator Marsh noted that it’s the people of the state that deserve as much or more than the legislators to know what the senate is dealing with so they have the opportunity to come attend the meetings. According to Marsh this issue gives citizens of Alabama no opportunity to come to Montgomery and have a voice in government.

The Senate recessed until 1:00 in the midst of Senator Marsh taking his hour to speak on SB383.