Immigration Bill “Tweak”
The Senate went into session at 0900 and shortly thereafter began debate on our first bill – the “tweak” to Alabama’s Immigration law passed in 2011. The House passed a version of a bill to tweak the immigration law and sent it to the Senate several weeks ago. The Senate opposed that version and introduced a substitute version last week…a substitute to that substitute was introduced this morning. Anyone confused?
Numerous amendments were offered throughout the morning and the debate oftentimes turned from legitimate debate to grandstanding by those who oppose the law. I supported the law then and continue to do so today. However, I maintain that while the Immigration Law that passed in 2011 (HB56) has its challenges; the intent of the law has been met as the U.S. Supreme Court is CURRENTLY reviewing the constitutionality of the law. And therein lays my single greatest concern with making ANY changes to the law. I have committed to remain “unwavering” in support of the law and voted to table the amendment repealing the law offered last week. I continued in that vein today and voted to table all amendments and substitutes offered on this bill throughout the day.
Once the Supreme Court has ruled on the overall constitutionality of the law we will then determine changes – or tweaks as we are calling them – that need to be addressed.
After a 3 hour filibuster…err, I mean debate, and one additional hour of delay by opponents who wanted to further put off voting by having the bill read, page for page, word for word, final passage of the “immigration tweak” occurred in a 20 – 7 vote…the bill now goes to conference committee between the Senate and House for a final version to be agreed upon. This is my greatest concern.
A conference committee is established when two version of a bill have been passed both bodies; the committee is charged with working out the details to establish a single version. Conference committee members are made up of six members, three from the House and three from the Senate. What I don’t like about a conference committee is my vote becomes silenced as once a conference committee report is complete my only option is to vote yes or no. I don’t view this as the best option. I support the Immigration Law but the drama is far from over here.
Later in the afternoon the Democrats hit a full court press to slow things down, filibustering every bill brought up. It was clear their intent was to stop the Republicans from passing any bills on the final day of the session. We recessed from 3 – 4 PM so that leadership could begin to work out some sort of resolution rather than using a cloture vote at every turn.
Upon return to the floor and after much debate the Senate concurred with Conference Committee Report for the Education Budget; $5.4B budget of which approx 73% goes to K-12 and 27% to Higher Ed. What I find most amazing? Remember the $22M from the State-Wide School Calendar bill? That was actually pulled from the Education Budget and yet the budget still worked out… Why was that passed again? A little bait and switch, perhaps?
We returned to the floor early in the evening and worked through a special order calendar to move some bills. I and others become frustrated that House Bills we were looking for are not on the Calendar. Some good bills died tonight.
The House passed the General Fund with about 30 minutes to spare. The Senate began debate on the General Fund with less than 30 minutes to spare. We eventually passed the $1.6B budget in a 22-12 vote.
The Senate adjourned “Sine Die” for the 2012 Legislative Session at 11:55...that was one long day having started in Madison at 5:45. The Governor has yet to make "the call" for a special session. Not sure what I’m doing tomorrow – heading home to Madison or working legislative redistricting.
Semper Fi - Bill