Alabama Dems: We'll use 'all tools available' on last legislative day
by Tim Lockette
tlockette@annistonstar.com
May 20, 2013 | 4151 views |  0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MONTGOMERY --- Senate Democrats say they'll use "all the tools available" to slow down Republican plans as the Alabama Legislature begins the last day of its session.

"When they're not fair with you, then you use what you have to fight," said Minority Leader Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, at an 8 a.m. press conference at the Statehouse in Montgomery.

Both Houses of the Alabama Legislature are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. for the last day of the 2013 Legislative session. The 30-day session has seen lawmakers passing the state's two budgets, consolidating Alabama's statewide law enforcement agencies and reorganizing the Medicaid system in hopes of slowing the growth of the program's cost to the state. The also created a program to give $3,500 per year in tax credits to parents who pull their children out of public schools deemed to be "failing."

Lawmakers still have a lot of work to do. A set of changes to the school tax credit program awaits approval in both houses today. Gov. Robert Bentley has asked for a two-year delay in the implementation of that program, in part to give the state more money to pay back a loan of more than $400 million that is due in 2015. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, has said he'll seek to either override the governor or abandon the plan to change the school tax credit plan

Today's agenda also includes a sweeping rewrite of the state's gun laws, designed to make it easier to carry a firearm and a campaign finance bill that would tighten restrictions on corporate donors.

Dozens of local bills -- bills that affect only one county or city -- also have a chance for a vote today. Among those is a bill to change the distribution of Calhoun County's gas tax, two bills tweaking the rules for Jacksonville's civil service board and a measure that would allow Weaver to approve Sunday alcohol sales.

Democrats expressed disappointment with the passage of the Accountability Act, and called on the governor to repeal the bill. Figures, the Senate Democratic leader, said the party is allowing its members to vote their conscience on the governor's proposed two-year delay.

Republicans hold a supermajority in both houses. Throughout the session, Democrats have claimed they've been shut out of the legislative process, and have used filibusters to try to slow down the approval of some of the GOP's key bills.

Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, said that without cooperation between the two parties, it would take 45 hours to pass all the legislation remaining in the Senate. By law, the Senate and House must adjourn before midnight, which gives lawmakers 15 hours to debate.

"They need to sit down and talk with us," Smitherman said.

Capitol and statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter: @TLockette_Star
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Alabama Dems: We'll use 'all tools available' on last legislative day by Tim Lockette
tlockette@annistonstar.com

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