HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Time is ticking away at the state capitol as lawmakers prepare to tackle a long to-do list before the 2014 regular session comes to an end.
The Alabama Legislature has only six working days left to actually vote in the final three weeks, with Common Core, abortion, welfare reform and two different budgets all part of the deadline mix. But the bottleneck of bills to get to only grew longer this week after the Senate spent all of Thursday debating gun legislation that ended up being tabled after hours of debate that monopolized the floor.
“As you start winding down the final days it will generally get more contentious,” said Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison). “What the leadership has to do is decide how to make the most of the days they have left.”
A nearly $2 billion general fund budget still awaits a vote in the Senate, while the $6 billion education budget now goes to the House. House committee members stripped the education budget of language that called for a one percent pay hike for teachers next year. Gov. Robert Bentley (R) has pledged to veto any bill that doesn’t include a two percent pay increase.
“Right now there’s some disagreement, and of course the process wouldn’t be working right if there wasn’t some disagreement,” said Ball. “There will probably be a little posturing, but eventually they’ll sit down and work something out.”
Bills that would prevent welfare recipients from using benefits on alcohol, lottery tickets and other frivolous items is also in line, as is a bill that would extend the required wait time for abortions from 24 to 48 hours.
A much-debated Common Core opt-out bill for school systems appears to have been sidelined for good after the Senate president said there was not enough votes to break an inevitable filibuster that would come. The opt-out bill was passed by a Senate committee earlier this week. Ball said it’s an issue that will ultimately have to be decided by voters in legislative and school board races later this year.
“Anything this hot that people have dug in on, and anything that contentious, quite frankly it’s an issue that will be talked about in an election.”