By Slade Blackwell
On March 3, the Alabama Legislature will meet for the first regular session of the new four-year quadrennium. While many Alabamians may be familiar with some of the bigger issues that will be considered by the Alabama Legislature, they may not know exactly how some of the political implications of the last election will impact the next four years. Here are a couple of relevant political realities to consider.
Republicans in the Alabama Senate added three new members to their number for a total of 26. With 26 votes, Republicans are able to overcome virtually any effort to delay consideration of legislation by filibuster or other procedural vote.
One of the most significant victories was that of Dr. Larry Stutts over Democrat Rodger Bedford, who had served in the Alabama Legislature for roughly three decades. Bedford’s departure leaves Democrats with only eight senators and without one of their best and most experienced legislative tacticians.
Republicans also retained their supermajority in the Alabama State House with 72 Republicans to 33 Democrats. Again, House Republicans should be able to move legislative priorities with little trouble.
In sum, those of us serving as Republicans in the Alabama Legislature have a tremendous opportunity to create positive public policy in Alabama and very few partisan excuses for being unable to accomplish those changes.
This session, look for the Alabama Legislature to make every effort to scrutinize, consolidate and improve state government so that we’re able deliver essential services without increasing taxes on Alabamians. We have significant budget challenges, but we were elected to keep government restrained, not to find new ways to grow it.
Also look for the legislature to continue to support flexibility for traditional public schools that meet the needs of their students while offering alternative educational models like charter schools in areas where new options would be helpful. We will continue to reinforce the positive aspects of public education in Alabama while continuing to improve in other areas.
Finally, we need to ensure that Alabama is as open for new business as it can possibly be. We need to address the fact that Alabama’s Supreme Court created a dangerous precedent in Alabama by permitting lawsuits against companies for generic versions of their products that the companies neither marketed nor sold. Putting Alabama on par with the litigation climates in California and Vermont needs to be remedied to keep Alabama’s business-friendly reputation intact, especially given the importance of manufacturing to the state.
Slade Blackwell is serving his second term in the Alabama State Senate representing Jefferson and Shelby counties in District 15. For more information about Slade, visit www.sladeblackwell.com or follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @sladeblackwell. To reach him by phone, call 334-242-7851.