SANDERS: Work to be done in legislative session

Published 7:32 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Alabama Legislative Session is upon us.  Therefore, I must run and stand. The session started Tuesday, Jan. 9. There is so much to expand. There is so much to limit.

The reason it starts in January is because it’s an election year for legislators.  The primaries are in June. We/legislators want to get out early so we can campaign more effectively to win. After an election, the first legislative session of the four-year term (quadrennial) starts in early March and must end by mid June. For the second and third year of the quadrennial, the sessions starts in early February and must end by mid May. In the last year of the quadrennial, the session starts early January and must end beyond mid April.

I must run because there is so much to do this legislative session. No matter how fast I run, there is always more than I can do. No matter how long I run, there is always more than I can do. I simply cannot run fast or far enough to do all that must be done.

I must run to expand Medicaid. There is nothing that I or other Alabamians can do to impact Alabama more than to expand Medicaid. It would save hundreds of lives. It would provide tens of thousands of jobs. It would help hundreds of thousands of our citizens to live better and longer.  It would save rural hospitals. It would expand Alabama’s economy. It would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to fund Alabama government. Yes, it would do even more than I can enumerate in this Sketches.

If Medicaid were an industry coming to Alabama, state government wound pay a billion dollars in incentives. But we stop this economic powerhouse because it would help folks that are working but can’t afford health insurance. The governor can change this situation with a stroke of the pen. But she has not and probably will not.

I must run to take sales tax off food. I have been trying to accomplish this goal since 1992. I have not given up. It picked up a little more support last year.  I will not give up. Alabama is one of three states that impose the full sales tax on food without any offset.  The three most basic necessities for human life are air, water and food. Because they are so basic they should not be subject to the burden of sales tax.  This is especially true when there are so many other items escaping sales tax entirely or partially.

I must run to repass the law requiring Alabama to provide at least one full time driver’s license office in each county. The governor pocket vetoed this bill when it passed previously. Driver’s licenses are so central to our security, wellbeing and citizenship. Not having full time drivers license offices in each county is especially onerous with Alabama’s requirement of Voter Photo I.D.

I must run to stabilize financial conditions for Alabama government. There simply is not enough revenue to operate general state government. The Education Trust Fund falls short, but the General Fund falls completely out. There is a recurring financial long fall. As a result, there are continuing efforts to rob the Education Trust Fund in order to pay for items in general government. I must stand against these determined efforts to rob Peter’s children to pay Paul’s debt. But I must also help develop an alternative. I must stand against the efforts to suppress voting rights. I don’t know exactly what initiatives will emerge to suppress voting, but I know they will come. I want every Alabamian of age to vote. I must run and stand against the myriad of efforts to limit public education. Again, I don’t know exactly what initiatives will come forth but they always come. There are so many ways to reduce public education ranging from diverting funding to increasing regulations to attacking educators.

There are so many things that I must run to implement. There are so many other things that I must run and stand against. I really want every Alabamian to do better. There is no way to anticipate all the ways to accomplish this goal.  Therefore, I must run and run and stand and stand and work and work.