I squinted my way, driving back to the State House after breakfast and was able to put in some eye drops and take an antihistamine before heading to the first of my committee meetings at 8:30. In total I attended 8 committee meetings today. Highlights include the Education Committee Meeting where we voted out the bill to consider cutting 5 days from the school year for only the next two school years. This bill will be debated extensively on the Senate floor in the coming days.
Next stop was the Banking and Insurance Committee, then the General Fund Committee where we worked on several bills and carried several over that need more work. The next meeting was the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee which I chair. We started the meeting with a moment of silence in reflection for the service members from Alabama and across our nation who are serving our nation; a nation that remains at war. These men and women, voluntarily serve across the globe to include three active combat areas. We need to remember them and their families in our prayers.
I was fortunate that my next meeting, which started at the same time as the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee meeting, was held in an adjoining committee room, next door. This was the Small Business Committee where the Brewery Modernization Bill (Brew Pub Bill) I’m sponsoring was being introduced. I was able to wrap up my meeting and slip next door in time to present the Brew Pub Bill. The bill was passed out of committee and will now advance to the Senate floor.
We held two organizational meetings for committees that I was appointed to by the Lt. Governor last month; the Reapportionment Committee and the Joint Transportation Committee. Activities in these committees will pick up in the coming weeks to include local, town hall meetings in advance of the reapportionment proposing new lines for the congressional districts. The reapportionment is driven by the 2010 Census data we recently received.
I concluded the day with a 3 hour General Fund budget hearing. We listened to 16 department heads provide an overview of how the proposed budget cuts will impact their operations. Each of these departments has seen drastic budget cuts; not many good stories to share. I left that meeting having confirmed we have some difficult decisions to make in order to balance the budgets in the weeks ahead.
Tomorrow morning around 6:20 I’ll be calling in to the Toni and Gary Show – WBHP, 106.5 FM and 800/1230 AM. I always enjoy talking with Toni and Gary. We go back into session at 10:00 to debate, and hopefully pass, several bills. I’ll get caught up on the mound of paperwork and reading that grows daily on my desk before heading back home tomorrow afternoon…hopefully I’ve seen the worse of the pollen and I’ll be able to make the 3 hour drive home with clear eyes!