Sunday, February 27, 2011

48 Hours Till The Legislative New World Order Begins

     Alabama's 2011 Regular Legislative Session is 48 hours away as I write this, and Republicans will be in control of both the State Senate and the State House for the first time in over a century, with a super majority, meaning if they can keep party discipline, they can pass any legislation they want. (Of course the last Republicans to run things were more politically aligned with the modern Democrats, but that's another story for another time.)

     Don't expect any battles over state employee unions like is happening in Wisconsin. There are no real unions, just AEA and The ASEA, and neither of them have the power of "collective bargaining".     

     That's also true in other Southern States.

     Despite that weakness, Alabama Republicans have tried to destroy the groups. especially AEA, for years.

     AEA was a target during last year's election cycle, as it had been many times before. There was even a "special session" called late last year in which one of the measures was to block the employee groups from having dues voluntarily deducted from state paychecks.

     I was thinking about the Democratic initiatives of recent years that were rejected over and over again....issues like eliminating the sales tax on food, calling a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the state's 1901 document, and adding sexual orientation to the existing state Hate Crime law. If issues like those couldn't be approved with Democrats running both houses, they are truly dead now.

     Sixty-five bills have been prefiled by legislators. Some are longtime Republican initiatives like requiring a photo ID to vote and eliminating the "DROP" law that pays some state employees to continue working rather than retire early.
    Democratic Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa has pre-filed a bill to allow some convicted felons to receive food stamps and welfare under certain circumstances. Good luck with that.

    And perhaps most significantly of all, legislative district lines will be redrawn in 2011.

   The best Democrats can hope for is limiting damage.

   And even for that, they'll need GOP approval.


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