By Paul DeMarco
There is a lot of inside baseball to understand the inner workings of the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate.
Understanding the politics of how the sausage is made at the statehouse can mean the difference between a bill getting passed or ever making it out of committee. When there are pieces of legislation that state leaders want to really see become law, one sure way to ensure the votes are there to get the job done is for the governor to call a special session.
In Alabama, the executive branch has a lot of power to direct state dollars and move legislation. By isolating a bill in a special session, a governor can focus lawmakers on one or more pieces of legislation they want to see passed. We have seen it in the past, include redistricting, incentives for economic development projects and an increase of the gasoline tax.
It may still be 2023, but the plans are already being laid for the upcoming 2024 meeting of the Alabama Legislature and it could include gambling that gets the special treatment. With just four months to go, bills are being drafted and lawmakers are playing the numbers game to see if they can get their legislation passed.
And get ready to hear a lot about gambling as lobbyist are working on avoiding a traditional repeat performance. Year after year, there is bill after bill to attempt to get around the constitutional barriers to gambling in Alabama, Recent efforts have passed the Senate but have died in the Alabama House of Representatives. However, this time House and Senate leadership look to support a Constitutional Amendment to legalize and regulate gaming in the state.
Ultimately, it will be voters who make a final decision, but only if legislators give them this opportunity. We will see if the opposition stops this bill before it makes it this far as they have in the past.
Special sessions should only be called for the most pressing issues in our state. With that said, it should be easy to figure out is that what we really need is a special session to address our state’s spree of violent crime. Public safety is the foremost responsibility of state leaders. Thus, Alabama leaders should look to make crime prevention and our criminal justice system first on the docket come the new year, either in a regular or special session if that is what it takes.
We will see soon enough in early 2024.
Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives and can be found on X, formerly Twitter, at @Paul_DeMarco