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SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2007
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Presidential contender misattributes quote to Riley

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com · (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — A presidential candidate addressed the Legislature for the first time in a quarter century and credited a Democratic lawmaker’s quote to the governor.

The agony of decisions about money to rebuild Enterprise schools brought a Mobile senator to tears.

Then lawmakers looked ahead to bills expected to come up early when deliberations begin again Tuesday.

Attention

When Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, brought his campaign for president to the capital city Tuesday, he became the first presidential contender to address the Legislature since Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984. McCain drew the attention of Democrats as well as Republicans, including staff members for Senate President Pro Tem Hinton Mitchem, D-Union Grove.

One part of McCain’s speech sounded a little too familiar to Mitchem staffer Charlie Grimsley, who arrived in the press room off the House chamber soon afterwards with printed copies of Mitchem’s response to Gov. Bob Riley’s State of the State address on March 6.

Highlighted was one section where Mitchem urged that lawmakers not tamper with the tax base of the Education Trust Fund for the governor’s proposed tax breaks: “I call upon members of the Alabama Legislature to draw a line in the sand around our children and resist any effort to take away funding from them.”

McCain’s speech mistakenly attributed a section of the quote: “That is why I applaud and echo the sentiments of Gov. Riley ‘to draw a line in the sand around our children ...’ ”

Voter memory?

Speaker of the House Seth Hammett said he honestly does not know if voters will remember the Legislature’s decision to give itself a pay raise and then override the governor’s veto of the raise. “I guess those who run for re-election in four years will find out,” Hammett, D-Andalusia said.

Pass-through pork

Hammett said the first bill on the House special order calendar Tuesday would be HB 125, banning pass-through-pork, which Rep. Oliver Robinson, D-Birmingham, introduced Feb. 7. Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, introduced a similar measure, HB 109, on Jan. 18.

Asked about the Hammon bill, Hammett said he was not familiar with it.

Hammon said he would support Robinson’s bill if that is the one that comes up because the state needs the ban.

“It is a good bill, and I will support it,” Hammon said. He said he is used to his party’s bills taking a back burner in the Legislature.

More of the same

Expect slowdowns to continue in the House and Senate this week as lawmakers exercise their protest of committee assignments and Senate operating rules.

Figures in tears

Emotions got the best of Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, during a Senate committee meeting on funds to rebuild Enterprise schools.

She recalled a state basketball game championship game on the day of the storm in which her son’s team beat Enterprise.

Recalling the loss of life at the Enterprise school that day, Figures said the committee’s $32 million could not bring back lost lives, but she said legislators are not uncaring.

The amount is far more than any appropriation for a local system before, Figures said.

And she suggested that the town could always appeal to the Legislature again if insurance and Federal Emergency Management Agency funding does not come through. “We do care,” Figures said.

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