Tuesday key day for lawmakers, future of budgets
By M.J. Ellington
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MONTGOMERY — The Legislature convenes Tuesday with five legislative days remaining and many unanswered questions.
Will senators settle their differences and pass the education and General Fund budgets, enabling lawmakers to go home with their main job for the session completed?
Will almost 200 local bills that already cleared the House make it through the Senate or die until a future session?
Will the Senate be in session Tuesday and Thursday as usual and hear Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards address a joint House-Senate session Thursday?
Will the Senate continue bucking tradition and meet Tuesday and Wednesday so some lawmakers can go with Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks on a trip to Cuba later in the week instead?
No one knows how the week will unfold, but Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom and others say Tuesday is a critical day for the Senate. One reason is the upper chamber has not passed the budgets or many other bills this session.
Unless the logjam breaks Tuesday, little is likely to take place the rest of the session.
Meanwhile, the House continues to hold committee meetings and work on a regular schedule. On Tuesday, the House Education Appropriations Committee will take up Rep. John Knight's bill, the Tax Fairness Amendment of 2008.
It calls for voters to approve a constitutional amendment to remove the 4 percent state sales tax on food and increase standard income tax deductions for many middle-income Alabamians. But the bill also would take away the state income tax deduction for federal income taxes.
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