The Alabama Senate entered into the 26th Legislative Day at 10 AM this morning. Including today, there are 5 legislative days remaining in the 2013 session. Our State Constitution limits the legislature to 30 legislative days within a 105 day calendar window. We started on 5 February and should adjourn in mid-May. We have several high priority bills remaining to work through to include a few favorites I am working on and the budgets. The Senate has passed the General Fund Budget and the House has passed the Education Budget...both budgets have passed their respective committee (albeit greatly amended) and so here we are again, eerily similar to last year when the budgets were sent to the Governor in the final hours of the final day of the 2012 session – literally at 11:30 and 11:59 PM respectively. And so with only a few days remaining in the 2013 session the budgets remain in play.
The Senate went into session at 10 AM and immediately took up a four bill Special Order Calendar, passing the following.
SB141 – Automatically makes it a Capital offense to murder a person with a protection order issued against the defendant.
SB93 – The Second Amendment Preservation Act makes any federal act infringing on the right to keep and bear arms a violation of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and declared void in the State of Alabama.
SB383 – Authorizes security personnel and resource officers that may be employed by a local board of education to carry a firearm. The Act also requires them to be certified and trained to the standards of the Alabama Peace Officers' Standards and Training Commission as a law enforcement officer, to include annual active shooter training.
SB260 – A Constitutional Amendment increasing the bonding authority of the state by $50M to issue bonds where the proceeds are for building and maintenance of National Guard armories. An amendment was introduced that changed the bill, preventing the increase but allowing bonds to be issued to build and maintain National Guard armories. I supported the amendment as I do not want to expand the overall bond issue authority of the state but realize the need for the bond issue to upgrade our armories. The amendment failed and the vote will now go to the people.
After a Caucus Lunch the Senate took up a second Special Order Calendar, of note SB446 – Is a bill originated by the Attorney General’s Office and increases the penalty for the act of promoting gambling, or possession of a gambling device from a misdemeanor to a Class C Felony. This does not change whether or not promoting gambling is illegal, it does not address electronic bingo, it does not address lottery tickets; it simply increases the penalty of promoting gambling or possession of a gambling device to a degree that rather than the proverbial slap on the wrist, violation of the law carries weight, has teeth and means something. The debate lingered on this bill for an hour and a half. A cloture petition was filed to end debate and the petition failed in an 18 – 12 vote (a cloture petition requires a 2/3 vote of the majority or 21 votes). Several republicans voted against the cloture petition, supporting keeping the promotion of or possession of gambling devices a misdemeanor.
We then moved on to a couple of other non-controversial bills before working on SB445, a bill making changes to the Fair Campaign Practices Act – ensuring a greater degree of transparency. After a good debate, from both sides of the aisle – just when we thought everyone was playing nice in the sandbox...the Democrats decided to filibuster the bill...of course they oppose transparency in campaign financing! After a successful cloture vote, forcing an end to the so-called debate, they pulled one of their favorite ticks and had the bill read at length.
The Senate adjourned at 9:43...making for a long 15 hour day. Committee meetings are scheduled for Wednesday and the Senate will reconvene at 10 AM on Thursday.
Semper Fi - Bill