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.

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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

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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.