As expected, session is a power play

Published 11:20 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I was hoping that this special session was not really about reducing the power of some and increasing the power of others. I was hoping that I was wrong about this special session being ostensibly called about ethics when it was in reality a pure power play. I was hoping against hope.

The first indications came with who sponsored what bills. Four bills were introduced allegedly to deal with ethics. One was not centered on ethics and one was not about ethics at all.

Then the four bills were placed in order of consideration for the Alabama Senate. Lo and behold the first bill to be considered was Senate Bill 2. My last bit of hope slipped away.

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In the fear that soon to be Gov. Robert Bentley would not attack the Alabama Education Association viciously enough, Gov. Bob Riley called a special session supposedly to enact ethics legislation. However, the real purpose appeared to be the destruction of AEA, whose membership is 30 percent Republican.

Senate Bill 2 will stop deductions by AEA, ASEA, and ASTA for membership dues. However, it will continue deductions for businesses which have political PACS that endorse candidates such as ALFA Insurance Co.

If Senate Bill 2 was about taking politics out of state government, state law would not permit a check off for donations to the Republican Party and the Democratic Party on our tax returns. It would not allow deductions for insurance companies with political PACS.

When Senate Bill 2 came up for consideration, we immediately commenced extended debate, commonly known as a filibuster. They needed three-fifths or 21 of 35 Senate votes to cut off debate.

We knew they had 20 votes but we were not sure of the 21st vote. After about four hours, they secured the 21st vote and ended the debate.

They then adopted a substitute bill that prevented state employees and public education employees from making donations to political PACs for their own organizations. I had hoped I was wrong, but I was not.