At any rate, under Senate rules we must have a quorum of 18 present when we are scheduled to convene and the role is called or - we immediately adjourn...and lose a legislative day. The Lt Governor exercised great judgment today and purposely delayed convening today’s session until a quorum was present thereby preserving a legislative day.
The Senate had three bills on today’s calendar – to include the $1.7B 2014 General Fund budget. As expected, the Democrats requested that the budget be read at length, requiring approximately 5 hours. Yes, you read that correctly – 5 hours to listen to the automated reader go through the budget bill line-by-line. This is nothing more than a delay tactic, consuming a legislative day. The ability to request that a bill be read at length is a constitutional right and while this may have served a purpose long ago – perhaps a legislator could not read or the ability to print numerous copies was time consuming – but today the tactic is only used to delay...aka, reindeer games as we called it in Marine Corps Boot Camp. The budget passed (like the reading made a difference) and the Senate adjourned at 8 PM. We will reconvene on Thursday morning at 9:30.
Of note, this is the first time a budget has passed the Senate this early in the session in recent memory. I want to thank Sen Orr, the General Fund Budget Chair for his hard work in getting the budget in position early this year. Readers may recall that last year's budget was passed in the final hour of the final night of the session. Several of us supported his efforts to move the budgets early this year - proud to see it worked out!
I have two committee meetings in the morning followed by other meetings concerning legislation I’m working. I also plan to meet with a group from North Alabama at the High School Literary Awards tomorrow. Several local high schools are well represented.
At one committee meeting in the morning – the Education Policy Committee – we are scheduled to vote on the controversial Common Core Bill. I want to thank everyone for contacting me and sharing their thoughts regarding this bill and hope that we are able to find a workable solution tomorrow.
I’m disappointed that the Education Trust Fund Committee that was scheduled to meet tomorrow morning to vote on the School Calendar “Opt-Out” bill (with amendment that was introduced last week) has been cancelled. The Committee Chair cancelled the meeting at 5:30 this evening citing that he didn’t have the data collected that he needed to make an informed decision regarding school attendance and possible revenue data. I reminded him that in my view this bill has nothing to do with school attendance or revenue – it is solely a bill regarding local control; simple as that...more reindeer games? We will see...my patience is wearing thin on moving this bill – soon requiring others to be patient with me on their bills.
I was able to take a short break this evening around 7:30 and call in to a meeting of the Rocket City Brewers. They were meeting tonight at Blue Pants, a local brewery in Madison. Through a conversation with the Blue Pants owner on Saturday we were able to set up a time for me to call in and visit with the 35+ members at their meeting. I was able to provide an update and discuss strategies on the two Homebrew Bills (HB9 and SB171) that are working their way through the legislative process. It was great meeting with everyone – even if over the phone – and I look forward passage of a bill legalizing the Homebrew hobby in Alabama. Yes, we are the lone state that considers home brewing beer illegal – the only other state was MS and they passed their law earlier this year.
Semper Fi - Bill