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Senate's harmony doesn't last long

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The harmony the Alabama Senate exhibited when it passed a package of tax breaks for a new industry didn't last long, with tension returning Tuesday and shutting down work.

Both the Senate's Democratic majority and Republican minority accused the other side of not keeping promises.

"You're so disingenuous," Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, told Republicans.

"It's clear we can't expect promises to be kept that are made to one another," Sen. Steve French, R-Birmingham, said.

The Senate has been split since its organizational session in January when 18 Democrats succeeded in organizing the Senate.

They defeated 12 Republicans and five Democrats aligned with the GOP and put in operating rules the GOP found objectionable.

On Thursday night, the Senate set aside the stalling long enough to pass a package of tax breaks designed to get ThyssenKrupp AG to pick Alabama over Louisiana for a $2.9 billion steel mill.

After taking Friday through Monday off, the Senate returned Tuesday and worked through the introduction of bills that had been piling up for days. But then the tension returned, when the two sides couldn't agree on what to address next.

At one point, Sen. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, referred to some senators as "boneheads," and Sen. Larry Dixon, R-Montgomery, accused Griffith of telling a lie about a meeting he had with the governor.

Sen. Bobby Denton, D-Muscle Shoals, tried to get the Senate to consider a package of industrial incentive bills that would help bring a railroad car plant to Colbert County, but he did not succeed.

With the legislative session nearly two-thirds over, the Senate has not yet considered the state budgets and most other major pieces of legislation.

One of the Democratic senators who sides with the GOP, Larry Means of Gadsden, said some of the tension stems from leaders of the Democratic majority working in last year's legislative elections to try to defeat him and some other Democratic senators who sided with Republicans.

"If those things hadn't been done, we wouldn't be where we are," he said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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