I’ve said it before: even with a supermajority, the GOP caucus in the Alabama Legislature is completely incapable of governing this state. The legislature’s general session, which ended Wednesday night, was an embarrassing exercise in bumbling ineptitude by our so-called leaders.
Let’s list the legislature’s positive accomplishments during the term: It finally raised teacher pay by 4%, which was long overdue and inadequate, but still a good thing. The state’s pre-K program was expanded, giving more at-risk children a chance at early educational exposure that has been proven to increase positive educational outcomes. The legislature passed Leni’s Law, which legalizes the possession of marijuana oil used to treat seizures. This GOP-sponsored bill provides seizure patients access to a drug that can be life-changing. That is a good thing. Finally, the legislature passed the Safe Harbor Act, which aims to prevent underage victims of human sex trafficking from being treated as criminals rather than the victims that they are.
And that is all. Other than a tiny teacher raise, expanding pre-K, legalizing a drug that should have been legal in the first place, and a much-needed change in Alabama’s antiquated prostitution laws to protect minor sex-trafficking victims, the GOP supermajority did not accomplish anything during the term.
At the beginning of the session there was hope that the legislature would finally pass a law reining in the abuses of Alabama’s predatory payday lenders and title pawn operators.
That didn’t happen because the payday industry lobbyists came to Montgomery in force with their ill-gotten money to pay off the legislators.
There was never any hope that the legislature would do anything towards meaningful budgetary reforms to shore up the always-broke General Fund. Indeed, this time they passed a budget (over impotent boob-squeezer Governor Bentley’s veto) that underfunded Medicaid by $85 million. That shameful cut to an already underfunded program providing the sole access to healthcare for over 20 percent of Alabama’s population will likely result in a complete collapse of the Alabama healthcare system.
People will die and the GOP legislators do not give a damn.
We have a governor that needs to be removed from office. The GOP couldn’t accomplish that.
We have an indicted Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, who needs to be removed from office. The GOP did not even attempt that because Hubbard controls the money trough at which the GOP pigs root.
Governor Bentley, Hubbard, and a platoon of lobbyists tried hard to pass an absurd $800 million prison construction plan that nobody really thinks will solve Alabama’s prison system woes but which sure would have provided a lot of pork for corrupt legislators to feed on.
That didn’t happen either.
The GOP supermajority couldn’t even pass a bill (which could have saved Medicaid from the disastrous budget cut) to divvy up the BP oil spill settlement money. Coastal legislators wanted to spend the money on roads down south, other legislators wanted to build roads all over the place, and no one wanted to use it to improve environmental problems (who do you think they are, a bunch of tree-huggers?). So the session ended without anything being done about that.
Business interests, including the Business Council of Alabama, would like the legislature to spend some money to repair Alabama’s terrible roads. That initiative got bogged down in committee, so we have another year of pothole-ridden roads with no money to repair them.
A push to increase tax revenues by slightly increasing the tax on gasoline did not make it very far.
Surprisingly, the legislature struggled to pass even its usual crap pandering to the wingnuts. Through procedural bungling as the session drew to its midnight deadline Wednesday night, the legislature failed to pass the Alabama Monument and Heritage Act of 2016, SB13, which would have prohibited folks from removing Confederate monuments and flags celebrating Alabama’s disastrous decision to join in a war to perpetuate slavery. Normally, such rightwingery would have passed handily, but through sheer incompetence the Keystone Cops running our state government were unable to pass it even though it enjoyed overwhelming support among the GOP caucus that controls both houses of the legislature.
One law the legislature passed was the opposite of progressive. The GOP majority passed a law outlawing a common and safe abortion procedure in order to pander to those who believe women should not have reproductive choice. The law is unconstitutional on its face and will not survive court scrutiny. It passed so that in the next election cycle legislators can proudly point to their anti-choice bona fides.
Now admittedly, the legislature did pass a law requiring schools to teach cursive handwriting, which I agree should be taught, but I would not include it in a list of important accomplishments in a state that has much more serious problems than whether little Sally can connect her curly letters together correctly.
Speculation is that the governor will call yet another expensive special session to address his pet mega-prison plan and the Medicaid budget shortfall. Last year it took two special sessions for the GOP majority to raise enough revenue for the General Fund to prevent disastrous funding cuts. I wonder, how many it will take this year?
Alabama needs a government that works for the people instead of focusing on lining the pockets of individual lawmakers. As long as the current flock of GOP clowns remains in office, though, we get what we voted for.
Government of corruption, by corruption, and for corruption. With a large dash of incompetent buffoonery thrown in for good measure.