Tuesday, February 03, 2009

And so it begins

The Alabama Legislature convenes today for the 2009 session. I don't know what to expect this year. The last few years have produced nothing good. Perhaps with the economy in such dire straights our elected officials can put their partisan bickering and do nothing attitude aside and get some things done this year. But...I ain't holding my breath.

In the event that legislation does in fact move this session I am providing readers with bills that either need to pass or need to die horrible deaths.

Let's start with bills that need to pass.
HB2 &
HB3 are bills sponsored by Rep. Joseph Mitchell. These bills would require the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House to establish procedures to implement and maintain a legislative record concerning matters related to the legislative process. That means that we will have an audio database archive of every house and senate session, transcripts of what is said in committee meetings, who voted how and why and so forth and so on. Woo Hoo!!! Last year I started Legislative Outtakes in an effort to preserve the audio from house sessions. I quickly ran out of computer space and spent countless hours breaking down audio to sound bites so that people could have the chance to hear what their elected officials are up to. Some of the things they say are just so far beyond the pale. Anyway, I hooked up with Rep. Joseph Mitchell who was also in favor of creating an audio archive and having transcripts from the committee meetings where all the real fun happens. I talked to Rep. Cam Ward yesterday about this and he is also a big supporter of letting the sunshine in. I am hoping he will co-sponsor it so there is bi-partisan support. When these bills are dropped in committee I want you dear readers to burn up the phone lines, inboxes and even drop by in person if you have time to help get these bills passed.

HB59 The records expungement bill. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Chris England and would allow people who have been arrested but never convicted of a crime to have their records expunged. Currently the records are kept on file forever and can prevent someone from getting a job or living in public housing or traveling. I hear there are many judges behind this one including Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and that this bill will get through this year.

HB225 (sorry no link to actual bill yet) This bill would prevent the seizing of firearms during an emergency (think Hurricane Katrina).
Governor, powers of Governor and local officials, powers do not include seizure or confiscation of firearms or ammunition from persons lawfully in possession, authority of law enforcement officers to disarm person temporarily under certain conditions, Secs. 31-9-8, 31-9-10 am'd.

Last year that bill died on the floor. I am glad to see it back again this year and will do all I can to help it pass.

HB72 This bill by Rep. Cam Ward would reduce ballot access signature requirements for third party and independent candidates from 3% of voters in the last election to 1 1/2%. This is a very important bill for everyone who wants choices beyond Democrat and Republican on the ballot.

This is all of the current bills that have been pre-filed in the house that I would like to see pass this year. We will also have our medical marijuana bill back in Judiciary committee at some point during this session. It has not been pre-filed as of today.

There are some very bad bills that need to die this year and I will give them their own separate post.


Don said...

Is your Legislative Outtakes going to be active during the current session?

Loretta Nall said...

I am going to try to do it as often as possible.