Significant bills of interest that passed committee meetings that I attended today include the following:
SB513 - The Education Options Act…what I call the Charter/Flex bill, passed the Senate Education Policy Committee today in a 5-4-1 vote…5-yes votes, 4-no votes and 1- abstention…interesting votes. I’m a co-sponsor on the bill and as discussed in last night’s blog support the Charter concept on a limited scale. I also support HB365 which is the flexibility portion of the Charter/Flex bill in a stand-alone bill and look forward to these bills coming to the Senate floor for debate.
SB353 – a bill I’m sponsoring that addresses drug possession vs. drug trafficking. In short, the drug dealers have figured out how to stay under the threshold so that they are only charged with possession. This bill will enable Law Enforcement and the District Attorneys to charge some of our worst offenders – the drug dealers who are preying on members of our communities. A House version of this bill has already passed and this bill is in great position for passage.
A version of the Limited Direct Access to Physical Therapy bill I championed this year and last year passed the Senate Health committee today. After much debate and collaboration the House version of this bill has emerged as an agreed upon version by all parties. My Senate version was caught in a stalemate with a 3 – 3 tie in the Senate Health Committee. Proponents were able to move the House version through committee onto the floor, eventually passing the House. This enabled the collaboration and now we have a workable solution enabling limited direst access for the public to PTs…in Montgomery lingo this is called “making sausage”. I appreciate everyone’s work on this bill as it enables what I call the affordability and accessibility of health care for Alabamians. Now let’s hope we can get it through the log jam in the final weeks of the 2012 session.
Of special mention, the School Calendar bill in the Senate has been referred to the Senate Tourism Committee…really? A bill mandating a state-wide start date for public schools is going to be debated in Tourism? I’m on Education Policy Committee and had hoped to have a chance to debate this bill in committee but it was sent to Tourism…really? Guess I’ll just have to wait for the bill to come up on the Senate floor.
A local issue I’d like to touch on is the two TVA Bills that have been introduced; one in Limestone Co and one in Madison Co. In both instances my singular goal is the distribution of the people’s money in the most judicious manner possible – based on where the people live. The 2010 Census reflected several things, Limestone and Madison Counties continue to lead the state in growth – the distribution of tax dollars collected/paid at the state level should follow where the people have chosen to live.
I encourage everyone to read the recent newspapers articles linked here - Athens News Courier Article, Huntsville Times Article #1, Huntsville Times Article #2. Of special mention, the articles in the Huntsville Times attempt to paint this as a Madison vs. Huntsville issue. That couldn’t be farther from the truth…this is a Madison County issue. Yes, I am a former Madison City Councilman – as the Huntsville Times points out – but I represent a significant portion of Huntsville – something the Huntsville Times fails to point out. Just so readers know, in Senate District 2, I represent all of Huntsville in Limestone Co as well as all of Huntsville on the west side of Madison County from the county line to Jordan Lane/Hwy 53 (link to map of SD2). Again, I’m focused on supporting ALL of the people across the county and will continue to work to do so in both Limestone and Madison Counties.
I have a Commerce, Transportation and Utilities Committee meeting at 8:30 in the morning and the Senate goes into session at 10 AM tomorrow. I will be handling the House version of the Sudafed bill on the Special Order Calendar tomorrow. This is the version that does NOT make Sudafed and other drugs prescription only. I believe that we have wide support for this bill and look forward to seeing it pass. Several of my colleagues and I plan to enjoy some minor league baseball this evening as the Montgomery Biscuits take the field at 7:05…I’m really looking forward to watching someone else play hardball for a change!
Semper Fi - Bill