Wednesday, February 06, 2008

And So It Begins

Yesterday marked the opening of the 2008 Legislative session in Alabama. Already it looks to be a wild yet somehow unproductive year. Last year on the first day of business the legislature and senate voted themselves a whopping 61% pay raise without any voter say so. Then the Republicans in the Senate shut down the entire session as a form of protest against the operating rules. Practically nothing was accomplished while they all sat there and got paid around $50,000.

Then on the last day of the session, with a very important and progressive probation and parole bill up for a vote Senator Charles Bishop (R) goes and wallops the stew out of Senator Lowell Barron (D). Here is a clip of the punch seen round the world.

Bishop's explanation for assaulting another member of the Senate was that Lowell Barron called him a son-of-a-bitch and "nobody talked about his mama." Barron denies he used any coarse language. Yeah...I know...this sounds like it could have just as easily played out on a kindergarten playground...the only difference is that in kindergarten the aggressor would have been punished...and that is not the case with the senators. At least not until today.

Barron declined to file assault charges against Bishop but he did file a complaint with the Senate ethics committee. A few days ago the Senate ethics committee decided to take no action.

Oh yeah, during the time between the punch and the ethics committee's decision Senator Bishop (the puncher) was given a standing ovation by most members of the Republican party and was also given a trophy for his assault on another member of the Senate.

Well, yesterday the fireworks began immediately in the Senate Chamber. Seems the Democrat majority decided to take action of their own and I think it's fair that they did so. Obviously, no one else was going to and I am of the opinion that we cannot simply let this assault go.
According to this article by Phil Rawls at the AP,

On the opening day of the 2008 session Tuesday, the Senate split along party lines in passing a resolution laying out sanctions for future violence.

Also, the Democrat-controlled panel that determines senators' committee assignments pulled Bishop off most of the Senate committees where he served, including the important General Fund budget committee.

Bishop left the Senate chamber immediately, saying he planned to consult with this lawyer and spend a few days considering his future before returning to the Senate next week.

Remember, I am a Libertarian leaning Independent as far as political persuasion goes, so I am not choosing along party lines. To let this go would be to condone it. When a regular citizen assaults another they go to jail. When kids do it at school they are suspended and often sent to alternative school. Our elected officials must face consequences for their actions.

Now, having said that, I hope the entire Senate body will let yesterday's sanctions be the end of their choke hold on the State House and get back to work.

I'll be going to Montgomery before too long. there are a number of bills I am supporting and pushing this year. We will be doing the Compassionate Care Act again this year but, as of now, it has not been submitted. I'll update everyone when it has.

I am also very much looking forward to the judiciary committee hearing for HB12 which is Rep. John Rogers bill to repeal the ban on sex toy sales in Alabama. That has not been put on the calendar yet but I've got my blow-up pigs and "Trixie King" pig buttons all ready to go for when it is put on the calendar.

Another bill I am watching and supporting is Rep. Cam Ward's bill in opposition to the REAL ID Act. If you are in Alabama and would like to support that bill go here.

Hope to see you at the State House soon!


Don said...

Don't forget that Representative Mike Ball has said that within the first two weeks he plans, once again, to introduce a constitutional amendment bill to make Alabama the 25th Initiative and Referendum (I&R) state which, if it became law, would allow the voters who own and finance our state government to have more of a voice in how our government operates.

In other words, voters would be allowed to initiate needed reform and accountability legislation that would bypass both the legislature and the governor and be on the ballot for Alabama voters to accept or reject.

I&R may be the best, if not only, hope for legislation you and many others want to see passed.

Loretta Nall said...

Thanks for the reminder Don. If you have a link to the bill please email it to me and I will add it to the original post.