Budgets pass; session ends on quiet note

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Staff Writer

The final day of the Alabama Legislature’s regular session was somewhat of a record-breaking day.

Gov. Don Siegelman signed the $4.1 billion education budget before the final meeting on Monday, avoiding the traditional midnight rush to finalize budget plans.

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With that done, legislators tried to recall a time when no state budget was pending at the last minute. The governor signed the $1.2 billion General Fund budget last week.

Another last-day success for Siegelman was the approval of a $110 million bond issue for public education when it passed the Senate 25-10 on Monday and went to the governor for his promised signature.

There was plenty of debate on the Senate floor on Monday. Because of all the activity, State Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, was tied up and was not available for a lengthy interview.

For State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, Monday was a "do-nothing day."

Late Monday afternoon, Boothe said members of the House were using stalling tactics.

"It took two hours just to get the calendar adopted," Boothe said. "People are not willing to do anything, right now."

Boothe said some of the anger is directed toward the seventh floor.

"Some are mad at their Senate counterparts," Boothe said of other state representatives.

Although some argue the session was rather unproductive, members of the Alabama House and Senate did pass some legislation between Feb. 6 and May 24. Not all issues waited until the final day.

Some of the bills that passed prior to Monday included the General Fund Budget and Education budget.

The Legislature also created the crime of identity theft, doubled fines for speeding in a highway constrution zone while workers are present, raised the age for driving a boat unsupervised from 12 to 14, increased the cost of reinstating a revoked license or suspended driver’s license, passed legislation that required the state flag to fly on many public buildings, provided for the use and legal recognition of electronic records, signatures and contracts. Legislation prohibiting candidates for state agriculture commissioner from accepting campaign contributions from people associated with businesses regulated by the State Department of Agriculture and Industries also passed.


Issues that died prior to the final day included:

· Requiring inmates convicted of many violent crimes and sex crimes to serve 85 percent of their sentences before being considered for parole.

· Calling a constitutional convention to rewrite the state constitution.

· Allowing the Legislature to rewrite the state constitution all at once.

· Allowing the Legislature’s Contract Review Committee to veto state contracts for personal services.

· Increasing travel compensation for legislators.

· Requiring city and county school systems to have 30 mills of property tax, or the equivalent in other taxes, for public schools.

· Sheilding large hog and poultry farms from lawsuits claiming they are nuisances.

· Raising the minimum amount of automobile liability insurance that Alabamians must buy.

· Requiring physical education each year a student is in high school, rather than just one year.

· Providing for the election of the Alabama Supreme Court’s nine justices from districts, rather than statewide, and having the justices pick the chief justice.

· Requiring the state to take bids on any projects costing more than $25,000.

· Making it unlawful to relocate or obscure historic monuments and memorials.

· Requiring students in kindergarten through the fifth grade to address their teachers with "yes, ma’am" and "yes, sir."

· Exempting sales of clothing from the state sales tax for four days in July when parents are doing back-to-school shopping.

· Requiring a 24-hour waiting period for abortions.

· Requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges in the cities where they work.