Alabama Legislature convenes, lawmakers set on task at hand

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) - The Alabama Legislature convened the second special session Tuesday. Both sides adjourned within 20 minutes.

It was like a setup to the rest of the week. Lawmakers filed proposals they hope will make it into a budget, and Wednesday committees will take them into consideration.

Senator Arthur Orr, (R) of Decatur, summarized what committees will take up in the Senate: "In the Senate we'll have a lot of what I'd call efficiency bills and also some cost-saving bills," he said.

Over in the House, a number of revenue proposals were filed Tuesday. They include a controversial cigarette tax the House voted down last month, a title certification tax, an auto rental tax, a business privilege tax, a pharmacy provider tax, and a porn tax.  The House General Fund Ways and Means committee will begin voting on these Wednesday morning.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) is not convinced the cigarette tax has what it takes to pass through the Senate. "The cigarette is the one that, to me, is a wild card," he said, but added, "There's some support in the senate for some of the [other] measures. I can't say there's support for all of those."

Rep. Phil Williams (R-Madison County) explained,"We're not here to just raise their taxes if government can be further reduced."

An estimated revenue range goes from $140 to $200 million, said Marsh. But other things will be needed to have a complete budget proposal, added Senator Arthur Orr: "I think cuts are going to be part of the dynamic, regardless of House, Senate, whatever version."

Senator Paul Sanford said he also filed a lottery bill, and there could soon be a companion one making its way through the House.

Legislators say at this point, they know it's their job to pass a budget. And they're very ready to do it. The heat is on, now, with just three weeks left until the October 1 deadline.

"You don't have the affordability of another special session occurring. It's this one, or, bad things do happen," said Senator Orr.

Have an opinion about Alabama’s budget?  Contact your legislator today.

Read more coverage on WHNT.com about Alabama’s budget crisis.