County can’t wait for unanimous decisions

Published 1:07 am Sunday, February 15, 2009

Here’s a question to ponder: Why do our state legislators hold Pike County to a higher standard than the rest of the nation?

Confused? Consider this. The single biggest piece of legislation ever written in our nation – the $790 billion stimulus package – passed in Congress with a simple majority, despite a considerable amount of opposition.

Yet, in Pike County, Alabama, our local lawmakers sa they will not take a proposed local lodging tax before the Legislature for approval without unanimous support by the members of the Pike County Commission.

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Now, don’t get us wrong. We’re not saying the proposed 2 percent lodging tax is right – or wrong – for our county. Frankly, we’re not certain supporters or opponents have made their case strongly enough. But we think the taxpayers of Pike County ought to have the chance to have their say in the matter, and that’s where the legislative delegation plays a key role.

Without home rule, our local governments depend on the legislative delegation to push through necessary legislation, such as a referendum on the proposed lodging tax.

But if lawmakers are waiting for unanimous support from local governments – particularly the county commission – before acting on proposals, residents in Pike County could be left twisting in the wind.

According to legislators, this policy has served the county for more than a decade. But we worry about what might happen moving forward.

Given the proclivity for egos and political battles among our commissioners, it’s rare that we’ll ever see a unanimous decision on critical votes. And while the lodging tax may not be a make-or-break issue for the county, such a key issue could arise in the future. And one or two commissioners could thwart progressive efforts.