We convened for the Special Session in Montgomery at 4 PM where Senator Del Marsh was unanimously elected as the President Pro Tem. I'm told that a unanimous vote had not happened for at least 50 years.
We adjourned at 5:30 to met in the old house chamber in the state capital to hear Gov. Riley address the public prior to the public hearing. Gov. Riley hit some great points in a standing room only crowd. The public hearing lasted exactly 3 1/2 hours and we heard from exactly 50 members of the public ranging from professionals representing state-wide organizations to citizens representing themselves. I took notes on comments from everyone that spoke.
I commend my fellow legislators who stayed to the very end. I'm disheartened that not all stayed for the entire session. In my humble opinion - the last speaker's words carried the same weight as the first speaker's words. As a public servant, when the public is speaking at a public hearing on legislation that I am considering - there is no better place for me to be than at the public hearing.
Several people from North Alabama spoke last night, deep into the batting order and, while I didn't count heads, the North Alabama Delegation was well represented. That made me proud.
Every speaker at the hearing supported the proposed ethics reforms in some fashion (some wanted us to make them stronger, others wanted us to watch making them too complex) with exception to four who told us that the Bill eliminating the process by which dues are currently collected by the state for some organizations is unfair.
On a lighter note, while driving late last night from downtown Montgomery to my hotel on the east side of town I got to meet a Capitol Police Officer...he politely got me turned around as I was headed down a one-way street. Note to self - there are a lot of one-way streets here!
Also, the irony of the fact that I'm in Montgomery for a special session on ethics reform dealing with actions of lobbyist was not lost on me as I was invited to a reception honoring freshmen legislators hosted by several lobbyist groups.
Last thing - to CBS News, Channel 8 here in Montgomery; don't use stock footage of the old legislature when reporting on the new legislature...most of those guys are no longer here.