Facing a legislative session during election year brings challenges

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Another new year is upon us and we are faced once again with a legislative session during an election season.

The legislature is known for under achievement during an election year.

You will read article after article about some of the warm and fuzzy legislation introduced this session.

Election season always brings with it, bills for mom, apple pie and the American flag.

If this session of the legislature is all about happy chest thumping bills that everyone supports then we have let the people of this state down.

There is nothing wrong with the effort to pass these feel good bills.

The problem is the reluctance to tackle the big issues facing our state for fear that it might harm one&8217;s re-election.

&8216;Tis the season to play it safe some would say.

Already several articles have appeared around the state where some fellow lawmakers have called for putting off the big issues our state faces until after the election.

I believe this would be a failure to carry out our elected responsibility.

Our state leaders need to address the serious issues facing the State of Alabama, not the least of which is the crisis in our prison system that threatens the financial security of state government.

This problem will only be solved by real leadership with the backbone to look past the election season.

There are also some problems that have been long overdue for change such as the right to have full and open access to public records and the need for a complete reform of the domestic family laws that affect every child in Alabama.

Other problems that must be dealt with are much larger.

For instance, some black belt counties currently have illiteracy rates that exceed 25% and rural health care systems that are barely able to keep their head above water.

There is no hope of seeing these problems corrected if we do not begin now.

Locally, areas of Alabama like Shelby County are currently seeing their roads and schools stretched to the limit due to enormous new residential growth that has no end in sight.

The commute to work for most Shelby County workers only worsens everyday as we continue to send more in gas taxes to Montgomery than we receive back in road projects.

Bibb County has several roads and schools that are in such disrepair that they need our state government to show the leadership necessary to fix this problem.

To say that this is an election season and not really the politically correct time to tackle the tough issues facing our state is just plain inexcusable.

&8216;Tis the season to try and think big and act bold.