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Butler, others named to negotiating committee

By M.J. Ellington · (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Sen. Tom Butler, D-Madison, is one of five members of a group negotiating operating rules for the state Legislature’s upper chamber.

Butler represents the Alabama Senate Bipartisan Coalition, which attempted to organize a bipartisan Senate governing structure in the Senate earlier this year. Others representing the coalition are Republican Sens. Bradley Byrne of Fairhope, Larry Dixon of Montgomery and Jabo Waggoner of Birmingham, and Democrat Sen. Jim Preuitt of Talladega.

“Our coalition is committed to working with the other side and negotiating new rules that bring true accountability and openness to the legislative process,” Butler said. “We hope our counterparts are equally committed to working together in a spirit of cooperation.”

The group will meet with an eight-member committee appointed by Senate President Pro Tem Hinton Mitchem, D-Union Grove, earlier this week to represent the Senate’s Democratic majority.

The Democratic group includes Sen. Wendell Mitchell of Luverne, chairman of the committee, and Sens. Vivian Figures of Mobile, Hank Sanders of Selma, Bobby Denton of Muscle Shoals, Myron Penn of Union Springs, Lowell Barron of Fyffe, Ted Little of Auburn and Parker Griffith of Huntsville.

Butler said the bipartisan coalition is concerned about Senate rules that restrict debate, especially on the education and General Fund budgets. The coalition also is seeking 24 hours advance notice on agenda items for committee meetings, greater advance notice for committee meetings and a rule requiring roll-call votes instead of unrecorded voice votes.

The group expects to meet during the next two weeks to find solutions to the disagreements about operating rules, which have led to delays and filibusters since the beginning of the session.

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