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CAPITOL LETTER
End of legislative session approaches

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

MONTGOMERY — One more day left and counting is the way legislators and people who work with them feel about the current session.

While many bills died because of the slowdown in the Senate, more bills finally passed than the oddsmakers thought possible two weeks ago.

Last day coming up

Thursday is the last day of the current legislative session. Lawmakers will return to Montgomery to take up any changes Gov. Bob Riley may want in bills they have passed and consider overriding any vetoes he might issue. Thursday is the last day to do so.

About this Memorial Day

Although Tuesday is a state special election day, state offices will be dark Monday. Alabama celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on that date, so state workers have the day off.

More of the same likely

Athens State political scientist Jess Brown said unless either the Democrats or Republicans in the Senate find a way to get 21 members consistently voting with them, there will be more disagreement and more sessions where members spend most of their time fighting.

Folsom future?

Brown said it is unlikely that either Democrats or Republicans in the Senate damaged their political futures with this session’s rancorous disagreements. He does wonder if Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., D-Cullman, hurt his chances for a future run at the governor’s office.

Folsom agreed to “indefinitely postpone” two remaining sunset bills that minority senators used to stall Senate action, at the suggestion of Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, a former law school dean.

TVA, I-65 industrial park

Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, said passing bills to pave the way for an industrial park along Interstate 65 was some of the most rewarding action he has had in the Legislature lately and some of the most challenging. After passing the House, one of his bills sat in a Senate in-basket for almost two months, waiting for senators to quit fussing.

Reps. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, and Bill Dukes, D-Decatur, believe the bills were also some of the most important for the area’s future economic growth.

Dukes predicted that the proposed industrial park could have even greater impact on the area than has Mallard Fox Creek Industrial Park, partly because of its high-visibility location and proximity to multiple forms of transportation.

Orr on session

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said some senators asked why he substituted Grantland’s industrial-park bill when his identical local bill finally came up for a final vote in the Senate. Orr said it was because Grantland’s bill, which had already passed the House and cleared a Senate committee, needed only one more vote to pass the Legislature. Orr’s bill, if passed, still had three steps to go in the House, and time was expiring.

When it comes to getting legislation through for the local area, Orr said, whose name is on the bill as sponsor isn’t important. Rather it is important for voters to know that lawmakers from the Decatur area work together to pass bills that people back home need.

Bill that should have been

Rep. Neal Morrison, D-Cullman, said he wishes Orr’s bill to give state health department medical liability coverage to retired doctors volunteering in free clinics had passed this session.

Orr got the bill through the Senate late in the session but Morrison, who tried to get it through the House, ran out of time. “Say good things about that one,” Morrison said. “It is a really good bill that I promise to work for next session.

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