Legislative priorities must be combating pandemic, growing economy

By PAUL DEMARCO / Guest Columnist

Since 2010, the Alabama Legislature has been governed by a supermajority of members of the Republican Party in both chambers. It had been 136 years since Republicans were in leadership roles in either the Alabama House of Representatives or the Senate.

That year, the newly elected Republican majorities passed legislation that conservatives had wanted to pass for years, which had been blocked by Democrats in the past. Republican legislation that year included reform of the state’s ethics laws, legal system and Alabama public education.

In those 10 years, Republican control has increased even more with more members in both bodies of the Alabama Legislature. Thus, there are a lot of folks asking why there has been so much discussion of legalizing marijuana, allowing more gambling, potentially expanding Medicaid and weakening the state’s criminal justice system.

Alabama citizens want and expect the legislature to clearly focus right now on addressing the ongoing pandemic, creating jobs, tax relief and ensuring the integrity of the election system in our state, not these other issues.

Thus, with the legislature going into session this week, this is the time for folks to call their lawmakers and tell them what is important for the state. With the pandemic, there are already stringent restrictions on public access to the Statehouse and thus it will be harder for the public to voice their concerns about a lot of these controversial issues. In addition, the virus may limit the number of bills that may be debated, thus, those bills most important to the public and not special interest groups should be addressed early in the session.

Alabama voters gave Republicans a supermajority in the legislature to govern with conservative principles.

Let’s see if they do.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.