Session will set up taxes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2003

MONTGOMERY &045; With the Legislature totally bogged down due to an ugly power struggle in the Senate &045; not one bill has been voted on in the upper chamber since March 11 &045; most of the political talk has turned to the question of when Gov. Riley will call a special session to address the state’s financial woes, and what he will propose when he calls that session.

There has been no shortage of suggestions on what route Riley should follow: A soft drink tax, (including beer, bottled water and so-called &uot;sports&uot; drinks); an increase in sales taxes on automobiles as well as a boost in the sales tax on agricultural and manufacturing equipment.

Be certain those proposals have provoked a howl of protest from those who represent those interests.

House Speaker Seth Hammett, D-Andalusia, who has been on the scene long enough to know how the game is played, said it mattered little what individual legislators were proposing.

The only thing that matters is what Gov. Riley submits to the Legislature.

&uot;I’ve never seen any tax increases of any consequence passed without the governor’s support and endorsement,&uot; Hammett said.

Even now, officials at the University of Alabama are making plans for a program on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of Gov. George Wallace’s &uot;Stand In The Schoolhouse Door.&uot;

The program is slated for June 10, and a number of people who participated in that event will return for the occasion, including Vivian Malone and James Hood, the two students who Wallace sought to deny admission to the university.

Nicholas Katzenbach, the assistant U.S. Attorney General who asked Wallace to step aside on that historic day, will not attend due to failing health.

After being off-limits for almost a decade, Gov. Bob Riley has re-opened the Executive Mansion for tours by schoolchildren.

A few days ago, a group of fourth graders from Jasper were welcomed to the Mansion by Gov. and Mrs. Riley, and he promised the doors would remain open for similar tours in the future.

Gov. Fob James, who opted not to live in the mansion during his first term (1979-83) because his family wanted privacy, discontinued the school tours when he began his second term in 1995.

Four years later when Don Siegelman became governor, he stuck with James’ policy.

Mrs. Patsy Riley also has returned to the mansion the portraits of former first ladies which had been removed during the James administration.

Whether the marble whippet hounds which adorned the front portico will be returned is not known.

Some months ago, federal officials suggested that people buy duct tape to seal up their windows to protect themselves in the event of a

chemical attack by terrorists.

So many people heeded the warning that many stores ran out of the product.

Now from Mobile comes a report that at least some of this tape was used for an entirely different and unintended purpose.

School officials in that county said they were investigating a report that a substitute teacher had used duct tape to seal the mouths of three fifth grade boys who talked too much in class.

As serious as this is … the teacher has been suspended pending further investigation … the temptation is overpowering to wonder if a supply of duct tape might be put to good use in the halls of the Alabama Legislature.

There was a time when this would have been political suicide, but the State Senate has passed a resolution … unanimously, no less … to change the name of the George C. Wallace Community College in Hanceville to the James C. Bailey State College.

Bailey is retiring as president of the school after 32 years in the office.

During his administation enrollment has soared from 69 students in 1971 to more than 7,000.

Even if Wallace’s

name is removed from the school, there are two other community colleges in Alabama named for him … in Dothan and Selma