Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Which rules apply?

Interrupting Senator Phil Poole on his second hour, Senator Bobby Singleton made a point of order to note that there is a piece of legislation that Senator Hank Sanders introduced last week, SB578, that was assigned to the wrong committee. According to rule 50 adopted three years ago in the Alabama Senate, all gaming legislation should be referred to the Tourism and Travel Committee. SB578 was mistakenly assigned to the Finance and Taxation Education committee rather than the Tourism and Travel committee which Senator Singleton chairs.

Senator Singleton asked that this bill be moved to his committee where he is a supporter of gaming. Lt. Governor Folsom noted that once the bill is introduced in committee the bill cannot be reassigned to another committee.

Senator Phil Poole is back to filibustering after a heated debate over the assignment of SB578.

“Maybe Let the Budgets Pass”

During the ongoing filibuster in the House, Representative James Thomas, member of the Black Caucus, speaking on the importance of removing the sales tax from groceries stated that he does not intend to see anything passed this session – “maybe the budgets because it is constitutionally required, but they had better be right.”

Is Representative Thomas foreshadowing a special session to address the budgets? “Wait and See” certainly seems to be the name of the game for the 2009 Legislative Session or better perhaps "Wait, and Wait, and Wait.....and See".

No diving...more Poole filibustering

Senator Phil Poole (D) Tuscaloosa has just begun his second hour at the mic. Senator Poole challenged the media to report on his concerns. He says the media will not cover his distress because it is too complicated and they only cover what is easy to report.

Poole is currently reading from a contract that was given to local officials about a road project in Brookwood, Alabama during Governor Siegelman’s term.

Earlier the Senate Pro Tem, Rodger Smitherman, had to warn Senator Poole because he was referring to the Mike Eckles group as crooks. Poole noted that there were also crooks in the legislature, judiciary and executive branch of the government.

Look for more updates from the Alabama Senate

Logjam in the House

Tensions in the House continue today as Democrats and Republicans have been unable to come to a compromise over the calendar.

Last week as Democrats were filibustering over the grocery tax bill, Republicans, likewise, began blocking voting on bills until more of their bills begin to appear on the House calendar for consideration. Today, the House calendar included 5 Republican and 5 Democrat bills, and Representative Ken Guin, chair of the House Rules Committee, said “this is as fair of a calendar as we could put together.”

Representative Mike Hubbard, chair of the Republican Party, presented an alternate calendar that did not change any bills appearing on the calendar but merely rearranged them so that Senate Democrat bills were moved to the bottom of the Special Order Calendar. Republicans have taken this posture against Senate Democrat bills because the Senate refuses to take up House Republican bills. Without naming names, Representative Hubbard stated that one member of the Senate has promised to kill all Republican House bills. Representative Hubbard emphasized that by allowing one senator to block bills essentially “disenfranchises our constituents”.

By a vote of 43 to 39, the proposed alternate calendar failed to pass, and Republicans plan to block the procedural vote that would be required for Senate Democrat bills to be voted on in the House. Representative Hubbard went on to say that Republicans are not trying to be obstinate but asked members of the Democrat Party to think of what they would do if one senator was blocking their bills and the interests of their constituency from being considered.

They may never have the opportunity to do so today though, as filibustering on the grocery tax currently continues.

PACT program deals and more Poole filibustering

The Alabama Senate convened this afternoon at 1:00 PM CST, shortly proceeding with talks of cutting a deal on the PACT program bill (SB581) the Senate stood in recess until 2:00 pm.

Upon coming back into session at 2:10, Senator Rodger Bedford thanked the body for their patience and noted that he, along with Senator Jimmy Holley, was working on the PACT Program Legislation SB581. Bedford stated that they were trying to come together and solve this problem for the students of Alabama.

Senator Holley addressed the body noting that this is the first step on a journey to help the PACT program. Senator Holly noted that the Retirement Systems of Alabama, Chancellor Bradley Byrne of the two year college system, Lt. Governor Folsom, and four year college institutions have all contributed and helped this legislation. Governor Folsom said this is a very important issue and one that the senate needs to address.

Senator Phil Poole is currently filibustering but it is presently unclear why.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Alabama Senate.