Gridlock halts Senate action

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The word gridlock is usually applied to traffic jams. But

gridlock also describes the current failure of some Alabama Senators to do what the voters sent them to do &045;&045; work to enact meaningful laws or change outdated ones.

This Senate has espoused the notion that constructive debate is bad. They would rather shut state government down than work toward real solutions.

The result: an abysmally small number of bills have passed the upper chamber since Feb. 5.

This isn&8217;t the first time gridlock has shut down the Senate. In 2006, action stalled, but only after it wasted half the session arguing over operating chamber rules. Even then, the Senate was the House of Discontent.

Conversely, the Alabama House has passed 180 general bills this session. As a member of the House, I am disappointed that some strong bills passed out of the House are doomed to die.

Here are just a few of the bills now stalled before the Senate:

-Mandatory liability insurance reform &8212; House Bill 162 will authorize the Department of Revenue to confirm motor vehicle liability coverage through an on-line verification, resulting in more insured drivers, higher coverage rates and lower costs to consumers. This would allow more checks on those legally eligible to drive.

-State budgets &8212; The Alabama Constitution demands that the legislature complete one task each session and that is to pass the two state budgets. Despite shrinking revenues and tough choices, the House passed both budgets which are now bogged down in the Senate. If they are not passed

in the next couple of weeks, we will be required to waste $400,000 in taxpayer dollars to return for a special session.

-Son of Sam Law &8212; In 42 other states, felons are not allowed by law to profit from their crimes.

Sadly, Alabama is not one of those states, but House Bill 142 would prohibit convicted felons from making money by selling materials associated with their crimes.

There are many more waiting for Senate approval. Gridlock in the Senate is on the verge of making this one of the least productive legislative sessions in history.

State Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) serves District 49. He can be reached by e-mail at