As a side note, as I was leaving to drive to the State House this morning I received a call from the Lt. Governor’s office asking if I would lead the Senate in prayer. Each morning we have a prayer and pledge; the prayer is normally offered by a minister - my first thought was, can’t someone else do this? But I realized the honor that was being extended to me and that when called, one should answer – so I agreed. I then pulled up my Bible on my phone (yes, I’m from the digital age) searching for scripture guidance, on one hand it is only a prayer but then, it is a prayer! I came across Exodus 4:10-12 where Moses was resisting God’s calling to speak. I decided to share this with my colleagues prior to my prayer. I realized that the tools of our trade, so to speak, are our votes - through our voice- and prayed that we would be willing to do the work He has called and equipped each of us to do, for His people. I was humbled to have been asked to give today’s prayer.
We were in session for about an hour for procedural votes. The Reapportionment Committee, of which I’m a member of, met at 10 AM. At 11:30 we held a General Fund Committee meeting where a few bills were introduced; more on that later as well. A public hearing was held by the Reapportionment Committee in the Capitol followed by another meeting to finalize “the plans” for legislative redistricting at 1 PM. These plans will serve as the starting point for debate as alternative redistricting plans will be introduced. We adjourned at 2 PM for the day. We will go back into session at 9:30 tomorrow morning for bills that were in committee today, to receive their second readings – setting the stage for Monday’s third day of the Special Session where we will actually vote on bills on their third reading and transmit them to the House. Subsequently, we will receive the House versions of the bills and work those through the legislative process. I plan to leave Montgomery tomorrow afternoon and be home for the weekend. If all goes well next week (read - everyone plays nice in the sandbox) the plan is for the Special Session to adjourn by Wednesday of next week, having completed the session in five legislative days which is the minimum amount of time for a bill to become law.
I’m behind on several emails and hope to get caught up on those later this evening and tomorrow. I’ve been asked to call in on the Toni and Gary Morning Show (WBHP) at 6:30 in the morning, hope you can listen in.
Some thoughts on the Special Session - A special session of the Legislature is called by the Governor based on “an extraordinary occasion” (Article V, Section 122 of the Alabama Constitution). I take “extraordinary occasion” very serious. I believe that the only bills we should take up during a Special Session should be those in the Governors Call (read the Proclamation for this sesson). A Special Session is not an opportunity to do “while we are here” or “do-overs” for bills that failed during the session that just ended yesterday. If bills of this nature were that important to the state as a whole, they would’ve been included in the Governor’s Call. Simple as that.
I can report that that will not be the case as I’ve already heard of legislation that will be introduced which fits both categories listed above: “while we are here” and “do-overs”. How is this possible?
Article IV, Section 76 of the Constitution states: When the legislature shall be convened in special session, there shall be no legislation upon subjects other than those designated in the proclamation of the governor calling such session, except by a vote of two-thirds of each house.
I oppose straying outside of the bounds set by the Governors call for several reasons. One, it’s simply wrong. We were in session for 30 legislative days (convened on 7 Feb and adjourned Sine Die on 16 May) – a legislative day is a day when we vote on the floor, committee days do not count. If a bill can't pass in that time frame it needs to come back around during the next session.
Two, mark my words, even bills introduced under good intentions in this Special Session will muddy up the process as votes are leveraged in support of other bills. Again, a Special Session should serve extraordinary occasions.
Lastly, following a personal precedence set in the 2010 Special Session on Ethics Reform called by out-going Governor Riley, I believe a Special Session is so important to our state that I am willing to conduct it at no cost to the taxpayers of Alabama. I will return to the State General Fund compensation provided by the state for the Special Session. Following is a link to the letter returning funds in 2010.
Semper Fi - Bill