From the Courthouse to your House (June 2017)

‘Why Must It Be So Complicated?’

By:  David Money

     The Alabama legislative process is by no means a simple one.  Much more goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in Montgomery than is visible on the floor of the House or the Senate.  Never has that been more apparent than during the debate over the ATRIP2 legislation as the 2017 session drew to a close.  By statute, all revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives.  Those bills are not allowed to come to a vote on the floor of the House until the General Fund budget has been passed (which historically happens well into the session.)  A way around this is through what’s known as the B.I.R. (Budget Isolation Resolution.)  Passage of a B.I.R. that is tied to a specific revenue bill allows that particular piece of legislation to be brought to a vote on the House floor even if the General Fund budget has not been passed.

     The purpose in addressing this in this column is to clarify what has become a confusing situation.  I’ve been asked about statements I had made indicating that our local legislators in the House of Representatives were not supportive of the ATRIP2 legislation (this is the bill that would have provided over $10 million in funding to make needed improvements to almost 100 miles of roads in Henry County and its municipalities.)  Here is the clarification:  I have no doubt whatsoever that IF the ATRIP2 legislation had gotten to a vote, every local Representative in the Wiregrass area would have voted for it.  I have no doubt about that.  The issue is that there was a problem just getting it to a vote.  When you have the ‘no new tax under any circumstance’ Republicans as well as the Democratic Caucus and various other special interest groups trying to work deals to satisfy their own interests, the easiest way to prevent this type revenue legislation from coming to a vote is to bog down efforts to get the B.I.R. passed.  That is what happened with the ATRIP2 bill.

      Sadly, too often the ‘wants’ of special interest groups blind them to the ‘needs’ we face on the county level every day.  My ‘special interest’ is this:  to improve our roads and do it as soon as funds are available to get it done.  Legislators don’t get the majority of calls from citizens who are rightfully demanding better roads.  Those calls are made – as they should be – to their county commissioners and to the local road and bridge department.  But, the truth of the matter is that our hands are tied financially.  No one wants better roads more than we do – it is the number one priority in county government – but, as a county commission, we don’t have the statutory authority to pass some magical funding mechanism.  That is the role of the legislature.  So to any legislator who felt I was indicating that they didn’t support the bill itself, I apologize.  My plea to each of them is this:  do all you can to get the legislation to a vote on the floor of the House; then support it by voting ‘Yes.’

 

30 Day Updates

  • May probate activity: five adoptions, nine guardianship/conservatorships, three involuntary commitments, one miscellaneous hearing and 14 marriage licenses sold
  • If your last name begins with “I” or “M” you have only today and tomorrow to renew your tags without penalty. July will be the renewal month for those with last names beginning with “L” or “P”
  • June 6 – attended the Wallace College Foundation Board meeting in Dothan
  • June 7 – attended an Alabama Workers Comp board meeting in Montgomery
  • June 8 – attended the Todd’s Farm RV Campground ribbon cutting in Headland
  • June 8 – attended the SEARP&DC board meeting in Dothan
  • June 13 – appointed by Governor Ivey to serve on the Alabama Juvenile Justice Task Force (representing the Association of County Commissioners of Alabama)
  • June 12/14 – attended the Alabama Probate Judges Association Summer Conference
  • June 20 – monthly administration and commission meetings
  • June 21/22 – attended the ‘Budget & Finance’ conference in Prattville
  • June 26 – attended the HCHR board meeting in Abbeville
  • June 28/29 – attended the ‘Alabama County Government’ conference and the ACCA board meeting in Prattville and Montgomery

Dates to Remember:

  • June 30 – Wiregrass Forum in Ozark
  • July 4 – Happy 241st Birthday, America
  • July 11 – July Administrative meeting – 9:00 AM – Probate Court Room
  • July 11 – July Commission meeting – 10:30 AM – Probate Court Room
  • July 20 – Alabama Juvenile Justice Task Force meeting – Montgomery