Opinion: Plenty of business left in remaining legislative session

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By PAUL DEMARCO | Guest Columnist 

This Alabama Legislative Session started back in early February and now, with just a few days remaining, lawmakers are rushing to push their bills over the finish line. The Alabama Constitution limits the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate to meeting for only 30 legislative days over 105 calendar days. With only three days left to meet, there is still a lot that both needs to be done or can be addressed if legislators so choose.

There are hundreds of bills siting on third base waiting to be put on the calendar, debated and up for a final vote. There are both local bills and those that apply to the whole state on the verge of passage but they have to compete with debate of the budgets and other high profile and controversial legislation. It appears the budgets for the general fund agencies and public education will make it to Gov. Kay Ivey’s Desk without much debate. Both the Alabama House of Representatives and the Senate have reached general consensus on funding state government at record amounts for the upcoming fiscal year. Once those budgets are sent to the governor, the legislature has accomplished their constitutionally required duties and could go home.

Yet, still up for passage are four controversial bills—two related to legalizing gambling, one to reform the state ethics law and one giving new rights to state prison inmates at the expense of crime victims. With so little time left in the session, there will be a lot of lobbying of state representatives and senators to move these bills to the governor’s desk. For Alabama citizens, this is the worse part of the legislative session as bills can be rushed through with very little debate. Bills that would have never been given the green light earlier in the session are now pushed at the end when lawmakers want to go home. This is when Alabama voters need to pay really pay attention as some of the back room deals are being cut at the expense of best interest of the people of the state.

Alabama citizens still have a short time to make their voices heard before legislators adjourn and go home, but now is the time to communicate with the folks they elected to represent them in Montgomery as the clock is ticking down.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives and former Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. He can be found on X formerly Twitter at @Paul_DeMarco.