Lawmakers weigh in on the possibility of a Special Session


Alabama Legislature

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) - When the legislative session ended last week, several major bills got left behind without a final decision. Two local lawmakers say it's very likely a special session will be called by Governor Bentley to resolve these issues.

Sen. Arthur Orr doesn't want history to repeat itself when it comes to calling a special session.  “Last summer, Governor Bentley called a special session in July, just by surprise. It wasn’t received very well. The legislature convened and immediately adjourned for several weeks because it was not prepared to deal with the issues at hand," says Orr.

He says the burden is on Governor Bentley's office to have a plan before making that call.  “Any special session, in my opinion, would need a plan that’s signed off on by most of the members before we actually go into that special session," says Orr.

Rep. Mike Ball believes Bentley's prison bill, recommending that four mega-prisons be built to replace the state's aging facilities, will likely be the priority of a special session, if one is called.

With massive overcrowding, he knows the stakes are high. “Quite frankly, if we don’t do something about it, the federal court probably will," says Ball. “That’s not the kind of thing you’re going to do on the fly on the back of a napkin.”

Sen. Orr believes Medicaid funding and allocation of the BP Oil Spill Settlement could also be included in a special session. “I would say sometime between August, September...," says Orr.

Both men insist the success of a special session lies with the governor, so that we don't have a repeat of last year.

Articles of Impeachment

Because Gov. Bentley wouldn't call a special session to impeach himself, a majority of the House of Representatives would have to request a special session by writing to the secretary of state.

With the passage of Rep. Ed Henry's bill to investigate Gov. Bentley in the House, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with gathering evidence and determining if Articles of Impeachment should move forward. “Right now the decision is in the hands of the chair of the judiciary committee, and he is a methodical person and I think he’ll try to be fair," says Ball.

He's a member of the judiciary committee and believes they should begin meeting soon.  “I don’t think he’s going to sit on it very long. I think we’ll have a meeting before too long, but that’s his call, not mine," says Ball.

Once the committee completes its investigation, it will send the report to the full House, which will then have to contact the secretary of state for a special session.  “Generally, I think the function of the House is similar to a Grand Jury," says Ball.

Like a Grand Jury, the House will vote on whether there's probable cause for misconduct by the governor.  “The Senate acts as a jury and the trial of fact, but the House has a lot to do before we even get to that point," says Sen. Orr.

We contacted House Judiciary Committee Chair Mike Jones about when the impeachment investigation would begin. So far, he hasn't replied to our messages.