Lawmakers stretch out session amid tensions, stalemates
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers stretched out the legislative session as tensions and disagreements on Wednesday derailed what they hoped would be their final meeting day.
Legislators abandoned a plan to conclude the session Wednesday night as a number of measures had not reached final passage by late into the evening. They will return to the Alabama Statehouse Thursday morning.
“I think everybody — with clearer heads, at nine in the morning, making reasonable decisions— we’ll still end up with a good session,” Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said.
The meeting day was peppered with sniping between the House and Senate over the pace of votes. The chambers each took multiple recesses as they waited to see if the other chamber was making progress on priority pieces of legislation.
“I’ve run out of patience with the people on the fifth floor and their lack of progress on lots of bills,” Republican Sen. Arthur Orr, the education budget chairman, said of the House of Representatives.
African-American lawmakers continued to push for passage of a racial profiling bill that would require law enforcement officers to record the reason for traffic stops and the race of stopped motorists. The Alabama Senate had approved the bill without a dissenting vote, but it hit roadblocks in the Alabama House.
The House adjourned Wednesday without debating the bill
Rep. Merika Coleman, a Democrat from Pleasant Grove, said she and other supporters will push to get the bill considered Thursday.
However, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon indicated the bill might not get a vote Thursday. He said lawmakers hadn’t adopted a debate agenda and would be prioritizing bills already in line for a vote.
A proposal to exempt economic developers from the rules that govern lobbyists is another contentious issue that could be decided Thursday.
A divided Alabama Senate approved the bill on a 15-14 vote after a prickly debate over whether it was an economic development necessity or creates a wide new loophole in state ethics law.
The House of Representatives will resume debate Thursday over whether to go along with Senate changes to the bill.
“It stinks,” state Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat from Greensboro, said.
Rep. Ken Johnson, the bill’s sponsor, said requiring the people who help companies decide where to locate to “jump through hoops” to work in Alabama could hurt the state’s job recruitment efforts.