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Bill to give Selma say in bridge name

Alabama Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier, D-Selma, recently announced plans to introduce legislation that will allow the “local delegation” to decide on whether to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge, according to a press release from the John Lewis Bridge Project.

The bill would create a process to allow locals to decide on the fate of the historic bridge, which stands to “empower and heal its citizens,” the project stated.

“Selma has had its share of conflicts in the past, just like our nation today,” Sanders-Fortier said. “We are beginning to move forward with a shared sense of vision and purpose, uplifting the idea of love in every institution – education, criminal justice, business, as well as other anchor institution in our city and county. We call this building the ‘Beloved Community.’”

“I believe this includes creating healing processes that encourage reconciliation in our conversations around changing the name of the bridge,” Sanders-Fortier continued. “The conversation about whether to change the name of the bridge is a step in discovering truth and reconciliation [processes] that will help heal our community.”

The proposed bill, which has not yet been filed, garnered the support of the Selma Matters Campaign, which issued a press release Friday offering praise for the forthcoming legislation.

“We are excited to support Senator Fortier in this endeavor and we encourage all community residents of the Selma-Dallas County area to join us as we make our voices heard,” the press release stated. “We also ask the Alabama State Legislature to consider this legislation as a move that will not only benefit Selma, but the entire state of Alabama as a whole. Especially in times like these, we believe that our leaders must act according to the will of its people and we are ready to work with all parties involved to guarantee a secure future for everyone.”

While Sanders-Fortier has not yet introduced legislation related to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, she has so far prefiled three bills in the legislature – two related to Dallas County Probate Judge compensation and a third regarding appointments to county boards of equalization.

SB52 ratifies and confirms “prior payments made in good faith to judges of probate of Dallas County,” stating that those judges who received such compensation prior to the bill taking effect are now “authorized to retain any funds received as part of that payment.”

SB53 would provide the Dallas County Probate Judge with an additional expense account of $30,500 per year, which would be in addition to “all other expense allowances, compensation or salary,” to be pulled from the county general fund in equal monthly installments.

At the expiration of the current term, the Dallas County Probate Judge’s annual salary would be increased by $30,500 and the newly-create expense account would be eliminated.

SB54 would alter the way nominations are made to county boards of equalization – under current law, county commissions, county boards of education and incorporated municipalities within a county of less than 600,000 residents are authorized to nominate candidates to serve on the board; those nominees go before the Commissioner of Revenue and, with the governor’s approval, three people are appointed to the board, one from each of the nominating bodies.

Current law states that, if a nominating body fails to submit a nomination, the board is not completely filled – Sanders-Fortier’s bill would allow the Department of Revenue to pull names from the other nominating bodies in the event that one fails to make a nomination so that the board might be filled.