Taxpayers fall victim to petty fighting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Passing the General Fund and Education budgets is the most important responsibility of the legislature.

Not so in Alabama.

Even a casual observer of the last regular session of the Alabama Legislature could recognize that many members listen to people who don&8217;t care about the will of the people.

If the regular session of the legislature proved one thing it is that too many politicians are concerned about personal agendas at the expense of the taxpayers.

A good example of the nonsensical legislative fighting was the two gambling bills that were pushed in the Alabama Senate.

Whether you support gambling or oppose it, I believe everyone can agree that once the battle over an issue is done then it is time to move on.

When things didn&8217;t go the way supporters of the bill had hoped, they just shut down the entire legislature for two months.

On top of the gambling proponents&8217; shenanigans was the power play between lobbyists for higher education and K-12 over money allocated in the education budget.

That wrestling match couldn&8217;t be called before the clock struck midnight, in a Senate that failed to accomplish little, ending four months of hard work and accomplishment in the Alabama House.

Many public school teachers called their legislator to rightfully complain that they would be laid off because the legislature failed to pass a budget. They had every right to because the legislature should have ended the budget impasse and passed the budget the first time.

Thankfully a special session was called to solve the crisis but it was a session that cost the taxpayers some $138,000.

I am a Republican serving in a House controlled by Democrats. But we got things done in the House of Representatives because we put personalities aside to work through the issues.

While I voted for the Education Budget in the House, I was disappointed to see that the budget did not even come up for a vote in the Senate. The Senate couldn&8217;t get past personalities and pressure from lobbyists to pass anything of substance.

Unfortunately, the real casualties of the 2008 General Session were the numerous bills passed out of the House and the people the bills were designed to help.

In the House, we were able to pass a Notoriety Bill whereby convicted criminals are not allowed to profit off their crime through the selling of works of art depicting the harm caused to the victim or their families.

Also, we passed a bill to crack down on those driving without car insurance.

These were just a couple of the 230 bills passed by the House that

died in the Senate.

Petty infighting truly hurt the people of Alabama during the regular session. I hope that the legislature will listen to the people during the next session and drop the personal fights and get on with the business of the state.

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