Boothe, Mitchell target

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Education Trust Fund


Staff Writer

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Beginning at noon today, lawmakers will be working to make changes.

The Alabama Legislature will being its three months of work, which will include introducing legislation and convincing other legislators to vote for its passage.

With the recent announcement of proration, State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, said the Education Trust Fund will be a big priority, along with redistricting.

"Those are the two big issues we’ll face," Boothe said.

Although Boothe realizes "there’s nothing we can do" about the downturn of the economy, there is plenty legislators can do to protect programs in the future.

He said it is "a shame to take money away from school kids" as soon as the state gets into financial distress.

Instead of taking money from the schools, Boothe believes legislators and Constitutional officers should give up some of what they get.

As a matter of fact, Boothe is so serious about that, he plans to introduce legislation that would prorate the money for legislators and Constitutional officers if proration is declared for schools.

"If we expect them to take the bite, we ought to take the bite with them," Boothe said. "We’re all in this together."

Like Boothe, Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, is "confident" the proration of the education budget will be the number one topic of discussion.

"The matter of education was already a topic, now, you’ve got several education issues," Mitchell said of such things as tax reform for education, classroom issues and benefits.

Mitchell expects the "number two" issue to be redistricting.

"I still anticipate that being a major issue," Mitchell said, adding that is one likely to be taken up in a special session.

The senator, who represents Pike County, said there will be plenty of other matters to come before the House of Representatives and Senate.

"There are a lot of bills I’ve seen today that have merit," Mitchell said Monday afternoon.

One he plans to introduce would, if passed, establish a state American with Disabilities Act. He said 23 states have passed individual ADA bills.

Revision of the ethics law is another issue being introduced, as are problems with the Department of Human Resources.

"DHR has got some severe problems," Mitchell said. "I see that as something that has to be resolved."

Other legislation to watch during the session will include:

· A 3-mill statewide property tax hike to fund education.

· Giving a judge authority to expunge records of an individual whose case is dismissed or found not guilty.

· Requiring identification to be shown at the polls.

· Restricting driving by 16-year-olds.

· Changing the method of execution.

· Identity theft legislation.

· School tax relief that would set a four-day holiday to exempt back-to-school purchases from sales tax.

· Creating more incentives to attract industries to rural areas.

· Simplifying the purchase of city and county business licenses so that businesses are not spending as much time on paperwork and writing checks to several government offices.

· Granting state immunity to any company that buys an old business site and follows a state-approved plan to clean up any pollution on the site. The former owner who polluted the site would remain liable.

The first day of the regular session will conclude when Gov. Don Siegelman gives his State of the State Address at 6:30 p.m.