Alabama legislature could reach standstill

Published 5:29 pm Saturday, April 4, 2009

An Alabama Legislature that has been productive in passing bills this session may have just reached a standstill.

After attempting to pass a bill that could lift sales tax on groceries for the third time, some members of the state House have started a filibuster.

“The leadership has put it first on the agenda everyday,” said Rep. Alan Boothe (D-Troy). “Once it doesn’t pass, the black caucus starts a filibuster and basically shuts everything down.”

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While Boothe has voted in favor of the bill that would remove the 4-percent sales tax on groceries across the state, he said he doesn’t think it will get enough support this session to pass.

“The sponsor of the bill John Knight has tried to pass it, but the votes are not there to pass it,” Boothe said. “I’m voting for it every time. We’d have to have some republicans vote with it, and they’re not going to do that.”

Even if the bill were to pass through the legislature, Boothe said it would have to first be voted on by the public.

“My point is at least give the people the right to vote on it,” Boothe said. “That’s how I feel.”

The grocery tax bill won’t go before the Senate unless it passes through the House.

This week, though, both the House and the Senate did pass a bill with the purpose of stimulating home sales in the state.

The bill, still waiting approval from Gov. Bob Riley, will take $6 million from an oil and gas revenue savings account and put it in a fund to guarantee mortgages from the Alabama Housing Finance Authority.

Eligible homebuyers will not have to make a down payment, reported the Associated Press.

Local Sen. Wendell Mitchell (D-Luverne) voted for the passage of the bill.

But what’s ahead in the legislature will be key for the state of Alabama.

Mitchell said by next week budget planning is expected to begin for both the General Fund and the Education budgets.

“We had our first budget meeting Wednesday night, and we set a timetable on putting the budget together,” Mitchell said.

Boothe said while legislators have been informed how much stimulus money they would get, they aren’t sure yet how it will be split.

But, by next week, he hopes that will be resolved and legislators can get busy on passing two budgets.