My next meeting was with General Fund at 10:30 but that slipped to 12:30 allowing me a rare opportunity to attend a couple of committee meetings as a member of the public – in other words, I didn’t have bills before these committees and don’t serve on the committees but I can think of no better place for me to be during a public hearing than to listen to the public!
I attended the Health Committee meeting where SB314 by Sen Bussman, a bill to legalize the practice of Midwifery in Alabama was debated. This was a great public hearing with a large turnout of supporters. I’m a co-sponsor of this bill and have discussed a couple of concerns with the current language in the bill that I think we can get rectified. Bottom line – as this is legal in Tennessee and many other states, we need to move forward with legalizing Midwives in Alabama as babies are already being born here or, in some cases, mothers are driving to Tennessee to have their baby at the last minute causing undue stress on everyone.
My next committee meeting was the General Fund Committee where we moved a couple of bills but carried over bills allowing sales tax exemption on some medical supplies and, allowing overtime to be calculated into retirement for state employees. We carried these bills over in order to allow the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO) to provide a more concise Fiscal Note on these bills. A Fiscal Note is required on any bill that affects one of the budgets. Amendments offered to these bills had a possible significant impact to the Fiscal Note and I supported delaying committee action until we have the most recent data from LFO.
I was then able to attend the Judiciary Committee and catch the public hearing on SB337 by Sen Beason regarding amongst other things, carrying a pistol in a vehicle without a permit and discretion of sheriffs in concealed pistol licensing. This was another meeting that I didn’t have a bill, nor do I serve on the committee but felt the public hearing and debate were important to witness. I’m glad to see this bill before committee and felt the debate was productive. The bill is due for a committee vote next week.
I finished the afternoon returning phone calls and replying to emails…I’ve got a ways to go before I’m caught up!
The Senate goes back into session at 10:00 AM tomorrow with a robust special order calendar. I have SB224 on the calendar, aka, Potter’s Bill which I blogged on last week. I’ll spend the remainder of this evening reading up on other bills before us tomorrow.
Before I close out tonight’s blog, I’d like to point readers to the following national story concerning the rising cost of gas. Our Energy Secretary’s response to Congressman Allan Nunnelee (R- MS) question in a committee hearing in Washington today - "Is the overall goal to get our price of gasoline down?" Energy Secretary Stephen Chu responded - "No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy." Well, in case you were wondering – there you have it! That is why gas prices are skyrocketing.
The back story here, in 1993, upon my return from a combat tour in Mogadishu, Somalia, I was assigned to Marine Recruiting Duty in, of all places, Tupelo, Mississippi - I referred to it as “sentenced” rather than assigned but, as it turns out – Tupelo is one of the best kept secrets of the South!
Congressman Nunnelee, then State Senator Nunnelee, and his family and mine attend the same church and my wife and I taught their children in Sunday school. Allan is a great Christian man and Northern Mississippi is fortunate to have him serving as their congressman. I commend him for asking the Energy Secretary the tough question – go get’em Congressman!