The Wire

  • Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election

    Excerpt:

    With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

    North Alabama has spoken.
    When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

    Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

  • On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born

    Excerpt:

    Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

    Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

    Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

3 months ago

Inside the statehouse

(W.Miller/YHN)

Republicans took control of federal offices and presidential races in 1964 in Alabama. It was referred to as the Goldwater Landslide. The Baxley-Graddick fiasco in 1986 was the game changer for governor. In the last 32 years there have been eight governor’s races. Republicans have won all of them, with one exception. Don Siegelman was an interloper in 1998.

During that same period, Alabamians have elected all Republicans to every secondary, statewide office. There are six secondary constitutional offices. All six are held by Republicans. There are nine justices on the State Supreme Court. There are also 10 judges on the Civil and Criminal Courts of Appeals. These 19 judges are all Republicans. If you add the three seats on the PSC to this list and include the Governor, that is 29 state offices. All 29 are held by Republicans.

In addition, we have seven seats in Congress. Six-out- of-seven of our Congressional members are Republicans. Folks, that makes us a pretty Republican state.

However, inexplicably it was only eight years ago in 2010 that our state legislature changed from Democratic controlled to majority Republican. When it changed it really changed drastically. The final coup de gras was probably caused by the National Democrats electing Barack Obama president.

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As I sat on television analyzing the dramatic results in 2010, it became obvious to me that the seismic avalanche of voting Republican for legislative seats was erupting in North Alabama and especially the Tennessee Valley. This area of the state had continued to elect Democrats to state legislative seats. It was the last bastion of white Democratic voters. This allegiance and loyalty was dating back to FDR and the New Deal. However, the election of Obama changed all that
loyalty that these voters and their grandparents had to their longstanding Democratic affinity for local and legislative candidates.

The Republican legislative leadership led by former Speaker Mike Hubbard, claimed credit for this Republican tidal wave engulfing and changing the Legislature. They did field good candidates; however, it was Barack Obama that put the final nail in the Democratic coffin in Alabama. Race and religion have always driven the vote in the Heart of Dixie.

The southern two-thirds of the state had incrementally begun voting for GOP legislative candidates, especially in suburban districts. However, the northern tier of the state voted Republican with a vengeance, and it looks like they are not turning back.

Regardless of the reason our legislature is not only majority Republican, it is super majority Republican. That means that over two-thirds of the members of the State Senate and State House are Republican.

The Democrats are buoyed by Doug Jones historic victory in a Special U.S. Senate election in December. They have enthusiastically fielded a large slate of candidates for the Legislature.

Democrats believe that Jones’ win in suburban areas, especially Jefferson and Mobile, can be duplicated this year.

That is doubtful. The Jones victory was an anomaly and an isolated dislike for Roy Moore. The Republicans will return with their majorities and more than likely their lock on a super majority.

Incumbency is a powerful advantage and most of the incumbents are Republicans.

A good many of the State Senate’s most powerful members are unopposed for reelection.

Included in this list of incumbent State Senators who have been reelected by acclamation are veteran Senate Leader and Rules Chairman, Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia, Senate Majority Leader, Greg Reed, R-Jasper, respected veteran Jimmy Holley, R-Coffee, Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, Senator Clay Scofield, R-Marshall, Senator Shay Shelnutt, R-Gardendale, Senator Clyde Chambliss, R-Autauga.

Republican Senate leaders, Del Marsh, R-Calhoun, Jim McClendon, R-St. Clair, Steve Livingston, R- Scottsboro, only have taken opposition in the Republican primary and no Democratic opponent.

Republican Senators, Cam Ward, R-Alabaster and Tom Whatley, R-Lee, only have token Democratic opponents in very Republican districts.

On the Democratic side, veteran State Senators, Rodger Smitherman, Priscilla Dunn, Bobby Singleton, and Billy Beasley are running unopposed. Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, the longest serving member of the Alabama Senate decided to not seek a 10th term. Senator Sanders has become an icon in Alabama political history. He will be replaced by another Democrat, probably his daughter.

Longtime Democratic House members Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, and Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, are retiring and Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, and Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, are leaving the House to run for the Senate. They are the last four white male Democrats in the House of Representatives. That leaves one white Democrat in the House, Elaine Beech, D-Chatom, and there will be one white Democrat in the Senate, Billy Beasley, D-Clayton. These two white Democrats will be dinosaurs in the legislature.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

4 months ago

Divided Alabama Senate approves ethics exemption

(Pixabay)

A divided Alabama Senate has voted to exempt economic developers from the state law that governs lobbyists.

The 15-14 vote on Wednesday came after contentious debate over whether the bill was an economic development necessity or creates a wide new loophole in state ethics law. The House of Representatives will decide whether to go along with Senate changes.

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Under the bill, economic developers would not be considered lobbyists and would not register with the state and disclose their activity.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield has argued site selectors, who help companies decide where to locate, won’t work in Alabama if they must register as lobbyists and disclose projects that could be in the works.

Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat from Greensboro, said that creating the exemption “stinks.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

4 months ago

Alabama lawmakers return for session’s final days

(Pixabay)

Alabama lawmakers are beginning the final days of the legislative session with several potentially contentious debates ahead of them.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday is slated to make a second attempt to debate a bill that would require police officers to record the race of stopped motorists. The House refused to debate the measure last week.

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The Alabama Senate could vote on a proposal to exempt economic developers from the state ethics law. The state’s commerce secretary has argued that professional site developers won’t work in Alabama if they must register as lobbyists. Opponents say it opens up a wide loophole in the ethics law.

Lawmakers might also vote on bills to overhaul the juvenile justice system, do away with elected superintendents and reduce the weeks of unemployment

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

4 months ago

Alabama House rejects bill to track race in traffic stops

(Pixabay)

Alabama lawmakers on Thursday refused to debate legislation that would have required police officers to collect data about race and traffic stops.

The bill sought to require police agencies to record data about the race and ethnicity of stopped motorists. The Alabama Senate had unanimously approved the measure, but it hit a roadblock in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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Representatives in the GOP-controlled House overwhelmingly voted down a procedural measure needed to bring the bill up for debate. The House vote was largely split along racial and party lines. Only five Republicans voted for the measure.

“After the vote, Democratic Rep. Merika Coleman from Pleasant Grove said lawmakers were sending a message that, “Bama is still backwards.”

Coleman said the bill collects data to determine if there are problems.

“When you vote against a bill that simply collects data, just data on who is being stopped, why they are being stopped and who is stopping them, there is something wrong with that,” Coleman said.

African-American lawmakers had shared stories of being stopped by police during debate on the bill as it moved through the Alabama Legislature.

The bill’s defeat sparked a filibuster by African-American legislators and threatened to cloud the remainder of the session. It eroded warm feelings that had filled the chamber moments earlier when lawmakers broke out in applause after voting to create a state holiday honoring civil rights icon honoring Rosa Parks.

The bill drew opposition from some law enforcement representatives who said departments already have policies against racial profiling and the bill would require additional paperwork.

Rep. Connie Rowe, a former police chief, said she was concerned that officers, assigned to work in mostly minority neighborhoods, could wrongly appear to be targeting minorities if the data was collected.

Rep. Allen Farley, a former assistant Jefferson County sheriff, was one of the Republicans who voted for the bill.

“This to me protects the good guys,” Farley, a Republican from McCalla, said. Farley said bad officers need to be identified.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, who voted against the bill, said he wanted to meet with lawmakers to see if they could work out a compromise plan.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

4 months ago

Alabama House approves stiffer fentanyl penalties

(AF Medical Service)

The Alabama House of Representatives has voted to stiffen penalties for distributing fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid blamed for a surge of overdoses.

Representatives voted 89-2 on Thursday for the bill.  It now moves to the Alabama Senate where lawmakers will decide whether to go along with House changes.

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A person would be convicted of trafficking if they possess more than a gram of fentanyl or 50 packages of a fentanyl mixture. The bill sets minimum mandatory sentences based on the weight.

Republican Rep. April Weaver said fentanyl can kill in tiny amounts.

Rep. Chris England, a former prosecutor, unsuccessfully urged legislators to change state law to allow doctors to be prosecuted for over prescribing.

England said the state should punish all the “bad actors” in the opioid crisis.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

4 months ago

Alabama Senate delays vote on church ‘Stand your Ground’ law

(Pixabay)

The Alabama Senate has delayed a vote on a proposed revision of the state’s self-defense law to clarify that deadly force can be used to defend someone in a church.

Senators delayed a Thursday vote after at least one senator threatened a filibuster.

Sen. Bobby Singleton said that the legislation is encouraging people to get “trigger happy.”

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Alabama already has a self-defense law that someone can use deadly force if they reasonably believe a person is about to kill them or another person. The bill adds that people can use deadly force if they believe a person is about to use physical force against a church member or employee.

Supporters pointed to deadly church shootings and said members need the legal protection to respond to a threat.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

4 months ago

Alabama Committee approves ethics exemption for economic developers

Honda car plant (Made in Alabama)

An Alabama Senate committee has approved legislation, pushed by the state’s top industry recruiter, to exempt professional economic developers from the state ethics law.

The Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee approved the House-passed bill Wednesday on a 10-2 vote. It now moves to the Senate floor.

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The proposal would exempt professional economic developers from the rules that govern lobbyists. The rules include registering with the state, undergoing yearly training and reporting activity.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield has said professional site developers, who help businesses decide where to locate, will not work in Alabama if they must register as lobbyists.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton has expressed concern about exempting a group of people, whose primary job involves interacting with government officials, from the state ethics law.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

4 months ago

Alabama Senate votes to track civil asset forfeiture cases

(W.Miller/YHN)

The Alabama Senate has voted to track how often law enforcement authorities use civil actions to seize a person’s property when the person hasn’t been convicted of a crime.

Senators on Wednesday voted 25-1 for the bill. It now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.

Civil asset forfeiture is the practice of law enforcement seizing property through a civil action for suspected criminal activity. Republican Sen. Arthur Orr had originally sought to require a criminal conviction for property seizures.

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Advocates argued the practice was abused and government should not take a person’s property without a criminal conviction.

The revamped bill tracks cases instead of banning or altering the practice. Prosecutors and law enforcement authorities argued the civil seizures are a valuable crime-fighting tool and people had due process.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

4 months ago

Ethics Commission director says bill weakens ethics law

The director of the state Ethics Commission said a bill before Alabama lawmakers could open up a potentially wide loophole in state ethics law by carving out an exemption for people doing economic development work.

“I think it’s a bad bill that weakens the ethics law considerably,” Alabama Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton said.

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The House of Representatives last Tuesday approved a bill to exempt economic developers from the definition of lobbyist under the state ethics law. Supporters argued it is needed to help Alabama compete with other states for projects and factories by keeping developers’ activity confidential, but critics said it opens up an exemption in the ethics law that governs interactions with government officials.

The bill says that an economic development professional — defined as a person who does full-time economic development work or works part-time and is “precertified” by the Ethics Commission — shall not be considered a lobbyist.

“It exempts people from the definition of lobbying when I think most people would agree that what they are doing is in fact lobbying,” Albritton said. “You are also declaring that the other portions of the ethics act related to a lobbyist’s transaction with public officials no longer apply to them. That’s where the problem lies in my view.”

He said another danger is that “economic development is “often used as kind of catch all designation for activity that people want to conduct with executive branch agencies, or executive offices or the legislature itself.”

“At the end of the day, there’s a good bit of activity that could be argued is economic development,” Albritton said.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield, who oversees the state’s industry recruitment efforts, said his department and professional economic developers asked for the legislation because of confusion that began arising in 2015 on whether developers should register as lobbyists.

“If we don’t clarify this under the law, professional site consultants are going to draw a big red line around Alabama,” Canfield said.

“That red line is going to say avoid bringing projects to the state of Alabama because there are too many states that will, for one, protect the confidentiality of your project and two, not require you go through training and registration on a regular basis. It will be easier to conduct professional economic development activities in these other states,” Canfield said.

Rep. Ken Johnson, the bill’s sponsor, said the state should not put a “hurdle” on professional site developers by requiring them to register as lobbyists.

Johnson said the five-member Alabama Ethics Commission previously tabled an advisory opinion on the matter so lawmakers could attempt to address the issue.

Johnson said he believes lawmakers have prevented it from becoming a wide loophole by specifying that the exemption couldn’t be claimed by legislators, other public officials and people who are otherwise lobbyists.

The Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he opposed the bill at first but was pleased with changes to the bill, before its House passage, that he said creates a “narrowly-drawn exemption for full-time economic development professionals.”

Albritton said a better way, in his view, would be to keep the developers under the state ethics law, but allow the reports on their activity to remain confidential for a period of time so deals in the making are not publicly disclosed.

The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said he wanted to speak with both Marshall’s office and the state ethics commission. “I’m not going to move anything unless the attorney general and the ethics commission are on board with it,” Marsh said.

(Image: Tom Albritton/Facebook)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

7 months ago

Jeremy Beaman: Secretary of State John Merrill offered stability in a turbulent election

(John Merrill/Facebook)
(John Merrill/Facebook)

Our recent special election was tumultuous and highly partisan. Thankfully, Secretary of State John Merrill who was in charge the whole thing, handled it the with care, maintaining the integrity of the electoral process.

Merrill, a Republican who endorsed Roy Moore, kept his own politics out of it and did an excellent job of reminding people of their right to vote, encouraging them to register and to get involved. He also did well to inform the public of what his office was doing during the campaign, whether clarifying inaccurate campaign ads or alleged voter fraud.

Perhaps most importantly, Merrill demonstrated a real respect for the electoral process.

“We applaud this young man’s energy, excitement, and enthusiasm for the electoral process and we are always encouraged when we observe Alabamians who are actively engaged in campaigns and elections in our state,” Merrill said in a news release today, responding to an accusation of voter fraud against a Jones supporter.

He determined that the individual in question voted legally. Though Merrill’s politics are different, he showed appreciation for the man for involving himself in determining the state’s future.

Perhaps Merrill was just “doing his job” and doesn’t deserve praise but in Alabama, a state-wide elected official just doing his job is what some consider a luxury.

It’s important to remember that public officials can be politically active and still fulfill their duties in a non-partisan way.

(Take this article over to social media and start a conversation with your family and friends)

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8 months ago

Pat Buchanan: Why Roy Moore matters

 

 

Why would Christian conservatives in good conscience go to the polls Dec. 12 and vote for Judge Roy Moore, despite the charges of sexual misconduct with teenagers leveled against him?

Answer: That Alabama Senate race could determine whether Roe v. Wade is overturned. The lives of millions of unborn may be the stakes.

Republicans now hold 52 Senate seats. If Democrats pick up the Alabama seat, they need only two more to recapture the Senate, and with it the power to kill any conservative court nominee, as they killed Robert Bork.

Today, the GOP, holding Congress and the White House, has a narrow path to capture the Third Branch, the Supreme Court, and to dominate the federal courts for a decade. For this historic opportunity, the party can thank two senators, one retired, the other still sitting.

The first is former Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

In 2013, Harry exercised the “nuclear option,” abolishing the filibuster for President Obama’s judicial nominees. The Senate no longer needed 60 votes to confirm judges. Fifty-one Senate votes could cut off debate, and confirm.

Iowa’s Chuck Grassley warned Harry against stripping the minority of its filibuster power. Such a move may come back to bite you, he told Harry. Grassley is now judiciary committee chairman.

And this year a GOP Senate voted to use the nuclear option to shut down a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who was then confirmed with 55 votes.

Yet the Democratic minority still had one card to play to block President Trump’s nominees — the “blue slip courtesy.”

If a senator from the state where a federal judicial nominee resides asks for a hold on proceedings, by not returning a blue slip, the judiciary committee has traditionally honored that request and not held hearings.

Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota used the blue slip to block the Trump nomination of David Stras of Minnesota to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Franken calls Stras too ideological, too conservative.

But Grassley has now decided to reject the blue slip courtesy for appellate court judges, since their jurisdiction is not just over a single state like Minnesota, but over an entire region.

Thus have the skids been greased for a conservative recapture of the federal judiciary unseen since the early days of FDR.

Eighteen of the 179 seats on the U.S. appellate courts and 119 of the 677 seats on federal district courts are already open. More will be opening up. No president in decades has seen the opportunity Trump has to remake the federal judiciary.

Not only are the federal court vacancies almost unprecedented, a GOP Senate and Trump are working in harness to fill them before January 2019, when a new Congress is sworn in.

If Republicans blow this opportunity, it is unlikely to come again. For the Supreme Court has seemed within Republican grasp before, only to have it slip away because of presidential errors.

Nixon had four nominees to the Supreme Court confirmed and Gerald Ford saw his nominee, John Paul Stevens, unanimously confirmed. But of those five justices confirmed from 1969 to 1976, Stevens and Harry Blackmun joined the liberal bloc, and Chief Justice Warren Burger and Lewis Powell voted for Roe v. Wade.

Of Reagan’s three Supreme Court nominees confirmed, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy cast crucial votes in 5-4 decisions to defeat the strict constructionists led by Antonin Scalia.

George H.W. Bush named Clarence Thomas to the court, but only after he had elevated David Souter, who also joined the liberal bloc.

Hence, both Trump, by whom he nominates, and a Republican Senate, with its power to confirm with 51 votes, are indispensable if we are to end judicial dictatorship in America.

And 2018 is the crucial year.

While Democrats, with 25 Senate seats at risk, would seem to be facing more certain losses than the GOP, with one-third as many seats at stake, history teaches that the first off-year election of Trump could prove a disaster.

Consider. Though Ike ended the Korean War in his first year, he lost both Houses of Congress in his second. Reagan enacted one of the great tax cuts in history in his first year, and then lost 26 seats in the House in his second.

Bill Clinton lost control of both the House and Senate in his first off-year election. Barack Obama in 2010 lost six Senate seats and 54 seats and control of the House. And both presidents were more popular than Trump is today.

If the election in Virginia this year is a harbinger of what is to come, GOP control of Congress could be washed away in a tidal wave in 2018.

Hence, this coming year may be a do-or-die year to recapture the Third Branch of Government for conservatism.
Which is why that Dec. 12 election in Alabama counts.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

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9 months ago

Del Marsh Endorses Roy Moore for Senate

On Thursday, Roy Moore’s campaign announced the endorsement of the Alabama Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). Marsh’s endorsement comes as many of the state’s Republican leaders have begun to rally behind their candidate to ensure he defeats the Democrat in December.

“This is a time for unity,” Marsh said Thursday. “Alabama Republicans voted overwhelmingly to elect Judge Moore as our nominee for the United States Senate, and I will support our nominee. The liberal policies of the Obama Era – embraced by Democrat Doug Jones – have failed, and we must do all we can to support our president. If Alabamians want to ensure that President Trump has another ally in the United States Senate, then it is imperative that they support the Republican nominee.”

Marsh has represented Senate District 12 since 1998, and has served as President Pro Tempore since 2010. He plans to seek reelection in 2018, continuing on his platform of improved education and infrastructure.

Moore continues to hold a significant lead over Doug Jones in early polls. Marsh’s endorsement is more than likely only the beginning of a plethora of Republican lawmakers who will throw their support behind Moore leading up to the general election in December.

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10 months ago

The Movement Roy Moore Rode To Victory

Photo: YouTube video screenshot.
Photo: YouTube video screenshot.

As is now clear to most of America, Roy Moore won last night because a highly motivated, populist base showed its deep disdain for establishment politics.

As I wrote last week,  “It’s a movement fueled by hard-working, patriotic Americans who embraced an American dream that’s turned into a nightmare, and they’re fed up. They’re tired of being told what to do, what to say, what to believe, and how to act.”

Related: All Eyes on Alabama: A Tale of The Swamp

Donald Trump clearly gave voice to this movement a year ago, but the fascinating question of this election is what reenergized it in Alabama?

Was it more Luther Strange’s appointment by Robert Bentley, his association with Mitch McConnell, a combination of both, or is there an even deeper reason? Regarding the Bentley appointment, as State Rep. Paul Beckman told Yellowhammer six weeks ago:

Regarding the Bentley appointment, as State Rep. Paul Beckman told Yellowhammer six weeks ago:

Look, no one is saying this was illegal; it’s a matter of ethics. Luther’s office was in the middle of a criminal investigation of Bentley, so it just doesn’t look good for Bentley to turn around and appoint the man who’s investigating him. He took the appointment under questionable circumstances, and that took the decision out of the hands of the people. The undecided voters in this election represent a larger group than normal and I think that’s one reason why. You have to do what’s right and instead of waiting for it to play out, Luther created the stigma that now hangs over him.

Related: Exclusive: A Behind The Scenes Look At Luther Strange’s Senate Appointment

The other theory is that Strange’s loss was more attributed to the fact that the Senate Leadership Fund—a PAC associated with a beleaguered Mitch McConnell—intervened on Luther’s behalf and that association was his undoing. McConnell is the face of the establishment, and this new American movement would rather sink that ship with a torpedo than polish its brass as it slowly submerges. The sooner the swamp is drained, the better.

While Strange’s association with both Bentley and McConnell played a part in Roy Moore’s victory, an even deeper factor was in play. What Moore’s campaign so masterfully architected was an emotional connection to members of America’s new populist movement—many of whom feel oppressed, forgotten, and unfairly targeted by leaders of a country they’ve believed in and fought for their entire lives. In other words, Moore’s campaign not only tied Luther Strange to the establishment; they brilliantly reflected to their base how Roy and his wife were under attack from that same establishment.

In so doing, Moore created a way for these socially conservative, fiercely independent voters to see themselves in his story.

The association they made is that Roy was under attack from the same status-quo politicians that they’re under attack from every day. This made sense to them on a very personal, emotional level—a level that affects their wallets and their worries. In this way, Roy Moore’s story found deep, personal resonance among an already-devoted base.

For frosting on the cake, this candidate had already shown that he’s willing to lose his job if it means removing the Ten Commandments from the courthouse, and if he’s under attack,  you can better believe they will have his back. For this reason, it’s not a stretch to believe that these negative ads delivered Roy Moore’s victory on a silver platter. The hardworking, devoted people that comprise his voters despise being told what to do by elitists, and last night proved that’s exactly how they viewed this election.

While there’s no way to know what percentage of them turned out last month and again last night, the proof’s in the pudding, so it’s a safe bet that the number is extremely high. While the apathetic majority found better things to do, this unshakable base was going to the polls to vote for their champion, just as they will this fall.

The only question that now remains is, will Roy Moore’s campaign become a template for anti-establishment Republican candidates in the rest of the country or was it unique to Alabama? In other words, can Steve Bannon and the powerful Breitbart engine make Moore’s victory more about giving voice to everyday Americans that despise the establishment than about Robert Bentley and Alabama politics?

One thing is certain, Bannon and company are just getting started, and as of this morning, Roy Moore now has Donald Trump in his corner too. That’s a locomotive that’s not likely to be stopped, at least in Sweet Home Alabama.

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10 months ago

Moore v. Stange: “Mano a Mano” Debate Set For Tomorrow Night In Montgomery—For Better or Worse

As we reported last week, Roy Moore challenged Luther Strange to a “mano a mano” debate with no moderators or panelists, Strange accepted, and it looks like that will finally take place. The showdown is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the RSA Activity Center in Montgomery, and Raycom Media will provide a live stream of the event.

This event will be interesting for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the vast majority of attention surrounding this campaign has centered not on what Roy Moore and Luther Strange know, believe, and intend to do as U.S. Senators, but on their associations.  In an incredibly important election at a crucial time in history, there’s been very little issue-based vetting.

Meanwhile, each campaign’s spin on who’s an insider and who’s not, who’s gained the latest endorsement and so forth has been incessant. And it seems to be working. In both camps, these narratives are controlled by power players outside of Alabama that seem to have captivated the minds of the voters, while the dearth of substantive discussions is glaring.

The question is, will tomorrow night’s debate change this? Will voters finally gain a reasonable understanding of how each candidate views key issues and how each would work on behalf of Alabama to make America great again? Don’t hold your breath.

Clearly, the Lincoln-Douglas debates hold weighty historical significance, but Douglas used ad hominem attacks to discredit Lincoln, detracting from his views on the issues, and no one will be surprised if such diatribes predominate tomorrow night’s event as well. Moreover, as powerful as the Lincoln-Douglas debates were for a host of reasons, they were not debating as much they were giving speeches.

Perhaps that’s why most debates are conducted in the modern format—because the public needs to hear candidates answer questions that force them to abandon their platitudes and talking points and prove their fitness with substantive answers. In lieu of flimsy lines like “I support the President’s agenda” or “I’m going to drain the swamp,” it would be nice if both candidates could provide answers to questions like:

• The President wants to reduce the corporate tax rate from its current suffocating rate of 35 percent down to 15 percent. I’m sure you both agree that this much-needed tax cut would result in more jobs and greater economic development. However, if liberal Republican Senators like Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) would vote for a 20 percent rate but not 15 percent, would you concede that to get a much lower overall rate,  or would you vote against the measure if you can’t get it all the way down to 15 percent?

• We all know that President Obama left a dumpster fire in the middle east. Both of you surely agree that we need to prevent Afghanistan from becoming the terrorist breeding ground it was before 9/11. To that end, Iraq taught us that walking away isn’t the answer, but neither is full-on nation building. Therefore, do you support the “train and assist” strategy as a way to ensure that the U.S. has just enough troops in the all the right places to enable the Afghan military to grow into an effective fighting force to support a self-sustaining Afghan government? The lives of young American soldiers hang in the balance, so if you do support that view, please tell the voters why you believe this is a viable strategy.

• Social Security is technically solvent, only because it’s funded by a trust fund made up of IOU’s, and we all know this won’t last long. Last December, Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Texas) introduced a social security reform bill that seems to lay out a decent path forward. However, one of its provisions requires gradually increasing the age at which retirees receive full benefits. Would you be willing to tell Alabama voters that you support increasing this retirement age as a concession to help social security remain solvent? Whether yes or no, tell us how and why you’ve reached this conclusion.

Yes, these off-the-cuff questions could be replaced with dozens of others, but that’s exactly the point. Being a U.S. Senator often means living in the weeds of highly technical policy issues and wrestling with seemingly untenable decisions like increasing the age of social security benefits to keep it solvent, or settling for a weaker bill than you hope for, but one that’s still far better than the present law.

Of course, this does not mean compromising moral standards or constitutional principles. That’s a given. In the real world of Capitol Hill, however, it often means give-and-take on policy matters. That’s why having the knowledge, wisdom, and foresight to know when to die on a hill and when to make a concession means everything for a U.S. Senator, especially when they generally agree on many issues as is the case with Strange and Moore. The real questions voters should be demanding is, how do you take those views and govern effectively?

Unfortunately, it looks like those are answers we’ll never know until the votes are cast next Tuesday. If it’s any solace, however, the entertainment value tomorrow night in Montgomery will no doubt be high!

Related:Debate-Gate: The Alabama Senate Race Gets Even Moore Strange

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1 year ago

Alabama senate passes permitless concealed carry bill

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Senate approved a bill to eliminate the permit requirement for concealed carry of a handgun in a straight party-line vote. The bill was introduced by Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), who has introduced similar bills in past sessions.

“Alabama should be leading the way on constitutional gun rights. More than ten states across the country already allow their citizens to carry guns without a permit. It’s time we give our citizens the right to bear arms without first seeking the government’s permission,” Allen said back when he pre-filed the bill in January. “We already allow open carry without a permit, and there is no logical reason for continuing to require a permit for concealed carry.”

While Allen’s bill would remove the legal requirement of needing a permit to carry within the state’s borders, Alabamians could still acquire permits to carry in states such as Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida that reciprocate Alabama’s concealed carry laws.

The bill would still allow property owners to maintain their right to create their own “gun-free zones,” and prohibitions would remain on concealed or open carry in most government buildings and at athletic events.

Attempts to loosen Alabama’s permit rules have previously failed. Law enforcement associations, primarily county sheriffs’ offices, have lobbied against changes because they are the chief recipient of the fees gun owners must legally pay to obtain a permit.

Currently, to receive a permit, a gun-owner must undergo a background check from the Sheriff’s Office and pay a fee that varies from county to county. In 2015, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor (D) said that local sheriffs “know” things about their constituents that gives them “a pretty good feel for their constituents and their county and who should and should not have a permit.”

“We know things that the computer can’t tell us,” he said. “We know things about our citizens. We know who’s going through a divorce. We know who’s in a bad time, who may be drinking too much, who may be abusive, but hasn’t necessarily crossed the line of a crime. But in our opinion, they don’t need a pistol permit.”

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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1 year ago

Alabama Governor denies rumors that he is soon to resign

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley Robert Bentley leads a tour of Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Thursday March 31, 2016. (Photo: Governor's Office, Jamie Martin)
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley Robert Bentley leads a tour of Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Thursday March 31, 2016. (Photo: Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)

Last week, rumors began swirling around the state that the governor would soon resign amid the pressures of a state-led investigation and impending impeachment. Now, Robert Bentley’s office is denying that he is considering stepping down.

“Gov. Bentley takes very seriously his call to serve as Alabama’s 53rd Governor, and considers it the greatest honor of his life,” spokesperson Yasamie August said in a statement to AL.com. “He has plans only to continue to serve the people of this state, and as he stated so clearly in his 2017 State of the State address, to “finish the race.”

Bentley had been treated twice over the past two weeks for an irregular heartbeat, leading to speculation that his physical health has been impacted by recent stresses of his office. His staff has insisted that his ability to serve has not been impacted by the brief health concerns.

The governor is currently mired in investigations and is facing potential impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee has instructed special counsel Jack Sharman to proceed with an investigation against Bentley. It had been on hold after Attorney General Luther Strange asked the legislative panel to pause their efforts in order to avoid legal conflicts that would cross with his office’s work.

Last legislative session, Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) and House Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) introduced articles of impeachment against the governor, alleging neglect of duty, corruption, incompetency, and offenses of moral turpitude.

Articles of impeachment must be passed by a simple majority in the Alabama House of Representatives. If the House impeaches the governor, he then stands trial before the Alabama Senate in a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court.

If the Governor is convicted by the Senate, he would be removed from office and replaced by the current Lieutenant Governor, Kay Ivey (R).

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1 year ago

Alabama marriage license elimination bill one step closer to law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama State Senate passed a bill that would eliminate the use of marriage licenses and would instead require that marriages be recorded by probate judges. Sponsored by Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Range), it was approved by a 22-6 margin on Tuesday evening.

After the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sax marriage nationwide in Obergefell v. Hodges, similar bills have been continually introduced in the state legislature. Many Alabama probate judges stopped issuing licenses after the court’s decision, and eight jurisdictions are continuing that practice as of last October.

Small government conservatives and libertarians argue that the state’s role in marriage should be limited to the enforcement on contract. “Licenses are used as a way to stop people from doing things,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “My personal relationship should not be subject to government permission.”

When he introduced a similar bill last year, Sen. Albritton told the Associated Press his intent was to remove the state from an issue it should have never involved itself with in the first place.

“When you invite the state into those matters of personal or religious import, it creates difficulties,” he said. “Early twentieth century, if you go back and look and try to find marriage licenses for your grandparents or great grandparents, you won’t find it. What you will find instead is where people have come in and recorded when a marriage has occurred.”

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1 year ago

BREAKING: Alabama House Republicans select new majority leader

Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Yellowhammer)
Alabama House of Representatives (Photo: Flickr user Joel יוֹאֵל)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In the wake of last week’s resignation of Rep. Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) as the House Majority Leader, Republicans have selected Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) to lead their caucus.

Hammon, who served as majority leader since Republicans took control of the legislature back in 2010, resigned after internal divisions emerged within the caucus. “I’m forever grateful that my GOP colleagues elected me as their leader over two separate quadrenniums, and while I will not be serving as quarterback in the future, I’ll continue to be a proud member of the Republican team and will do everything in my power to help pass our agenda and other conservative reform measures,” he said in a statement.

Before being elected to the House in 2014, Ledbetter served on the Rainsville City Council and as mayor for the same city. Now, he will take control of a dominant Republican Caucus, which currently holds 72 of the 105 seats in the House of Representatives.

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1 year ago

Alabama Senate approves bill limiting judges’ ability to impose death penalty

(Wikicommons)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Senate approved a bill on Thursday that prevents a judge from sentencing a person to death when a jury has recommended life in prison. Sponsored by Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery), the bill passed 30-1 and now heads to the House of Representatives.

Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) was the sole vote against Brewbaker’s proposal. He said that he believes a judge, rather than a jury of one’s peers, can decide “right sentence.” In 2016, Pittman also introduced a bill to execute people by firing squad, rather than by lethal injection.

A member of the overwhelming majority who voted yes, Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) said that continuing the current system would be “morally wrong.”

Currently, Alabama law allows for judicial override of jury recommendations in capital murder cases. England’s bill would change that, and it would also require unanimity among jurors to recommend the death penalty.

According to the Equal Justice Initiative, Alabama judges have overridden jury decisions 112 times. In 101 of those cases, the judge sentenced the person to death.

Capital punishment has existed in the United States since the nation’s founding, and 31 states plus the Federal Government utilize the death penalty as of November of 2016. The death penalty was temporarily suspended nationwide from 1972 to 1976 as a result of the case of Furman v. Georgia. There, the implementation of the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional because of disproportionate racial application. It was banned until states could prove it was being applied fairly.

The Supreme Court has never ruled the death penalty itself unconstitutional, although the court has decided that it is cruel and unusual to apply it to those who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed.

(h/t Alabama News Network)

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1 year ago

SEC football legend confirmed to Auburn board of trustees

AUBURN, Ala. — After the voters gave them the power to expand the Auburn Board of Trustees, the Alabama Senate approved two new members, including former Auburn Football player Quentin Riggins. The Thursday confirmation added Riggins, 41-year U.S. Army veteran Lloyd Austin, and CEO Raymond Harbert of Harbert Management Corp. in Birmingham as at-large members. All three men are graduates of Auburn University.

A graduate of Montgomery’s Robert E. High School, Riggins played Linebacker for the Auburn Tigers from 1986 to 1989. He twice earned All-SEC honors and Second Team All-American status while leading the Tigers to three straight SEC Championships form 1987-1989. Decades later, he was honored with induction into the SEC Legends Class of 2009.

After a brief stint in the Canadian Football League, he turned his talents towards business and lobbying. Riggins currently works as the Senior Vice President for Governmental and Corporate Affairs for the Alabama Power Company and has since 2011. In that role, he has led the largest governmental affairs shop in the state.

He has worked for governors on both sides of the aisle, and he served as a cabinet member in the Riley administration. He also worked for Democratic Speaker of the House Seth Hammet and later ran the governmental affairs operation at the Business Council of Alabama before briefly launching his own firm.

His significant work has earned him a spot on Yellowhammer‘s Power and Influence List numerous times. In 2015, former Yellowhammer CEO Cliff Sims wrote:

“The Power Company’s business is so vast there is hardly an issue before the Legislature that does not impact them in some way. It’s a big job, but Riggins has virtually unlimited resources and personnel at his disposal…From sports to politics to business, Riggins is another power player with an extensive reach.”

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1 year ago

State bill would protect Alabama’s historical monuments

Confederate memorial in Linn Park
Confederate memorial in Linn Park

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Out of fear that history is being erased, State Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) plans to introduce the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act in the Senate when the legislative session begins on February 7. If passed, the act would prohibit the removal, renaming, or alteration of any statue, memorial, or monument over fifty years old located on public state, county, and city properties.

“I am concerned about politically-correct efforts to erase entire portions of American history, and oftentimes these efforts to remove a statue or a monument are done in haste and without public knowledge,” Allen said. “I believe our children and grandchildren should remember history as it happened – the good and the bad.”

Dozens of cities across the state contain their own Confederate monuments that were constructed post-reconstruction. Montgomery, for instance, has the Monument to Confederate Soldiers and Sailors on the grounds of the State Capitol. Partially funded with state grants, the monument has stood since 1886, and the person who laid the cornerstone was none other than CSA President Jefferson Davis.

Montgomery is also home to numerous civil rights movement monuments including the Civil Rights Memorial, located on Washington Avenue. The granite display contains the names of 41 people who died during the fight for civil rights.

“I have had numerous discussions with other legislators, historians, and interested citizens, and this version will reflect their input. I am very confident the Memorial Preservation Act will receive final passage this year,” Allen remarked. “My intent is to preserve memorials to all of Alabama’s history – including the Civil War, the World Wars, and the Civil Rights movement – for generations to come.”

Allen proposed a similar bill last year, but it failed to gain enough support in the Alabama House of Representatives before the session ended.

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1 year ago

Senator files bill to allow Alabamians to carry guns without a permit

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — State Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) wants to ensure Alabamians right to carry a gun without a permit. On Wednesday, he pre-filed legislation to remove current Second Amendment restrictions embedded in the state’s laws.

“Alabama should be leading the way on constitutional gun rights. More than ten states across the country already allow their citizens to carry guns without a permit. It’s time we give our citizens the right to bear arms without first seeking the government’s permission,” Allen said. “We already allow open carry without a permit, and there is no logical reason for continuing to require a permit for concealed carry.”

While Allen’s bill would remove the legal requirement of needing a permit to carry within the state’s borders, Alabamians could still acquire permits to carry in states such as Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida that reciprocate Alabama’s concealed carry laws.

“You will still need a permit if you’re going to legally carry a gun in other states, so I anticipate that a large majority of gun owners in Alabama will continue to purchase a permit from their local sheriff,” Allen remarked. “My goal is to remove unnecessary burdens on law-abiding citizens who own and carry guns, since most criminals and thugs don’t bother applying for a permit anyways.”

The bill would still allow property owners to maintain their right to create their own “gun-free zones,” and prohibitions would remain on concealed or open carry in most government buildings and at athletic events.

“The law-abiding citizens of Alabama have a fundamental, constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The NRA supports legislation that would provide law-abiding citizens greater freedom to protect themselves in the manner that best suits their needs, while still keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals,” said Lacey Biles, National Rifle Association Director of State and Local Affairs.

Attempts to loosen Alabama’s permit rules have previously failed. Law enforcement associations, primarily county sheriffs’ offices, have lobbied against changes because they are the chief recipient of the fees gun owners must legally pay to obtain a permit.

Currently, to receive a permit, a gun-owner must undergo a background check from the Sheriff’s Office and pay a fee that varies from county to county. In 2015, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor (D) said that local sheriffs “know” things about their constituents that gives them “a pretty good feel for their constituents and their county and who should and should not have a permit.”

RELATED: Ala. Sheriff wants to control pistol permits: ‘We know things about our citizens’

“We know things that the computer can’t tell us,” he said. “We know things about our citizens. We know who’s going through a divorce. We know who’s in a bad time, who may be drinking too much, who may be abusive, but hasn’t necessarily crossed the line of a crime. But in our opinion, they don’t need a pistol permit.”

Alabama’s 2017 legislative session will begin on February 7.

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2 years ago

South Alabama lawmakers fight rest of state over remaining BP Oil Spill money

A worker cleans up an Alabama beach in the wake of the BP Deewater Horizon Oil Spill.
A worker cleans up an Alabama beach in the wake of the BP Deewater Horizon Oil Spill.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Partisanship has taken a backseat to regional politics in the Alabama State House, with south Alabama lawmakers banding together to fight the rest of the state over the remaining BP Oil Spill money.

With Medicaid facing a perpetual funding shortfall, the House almost two weeks ago passed a bill that would use BP money to pay back $448.5 million in state debt, immediately free up about $35 million for Medicaid, and send the rest of the money — about $191 million — to the coast for road projects.

The bill sat on the legislative back-burner as the House and Senate wrestled with numerous lottery proposals, but re-emerged Tuesday as lawmakers faced the possibility of adjourning the Special Session without addressing the Medicaid issue.

The Senate passed a bill that would send $300 million of the BP money to Medicaid over the next three years — presumably buying the legislature time to work out a longer-term plan — then send the rest of the funds toward paying down debt, completely stripping out all funding for south Alabama road projects.

The House unanimously voted against the Senate plan, prompting legislative leaders to create a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two chambers. The conference committee will consist of three House members and three Senate members, who will seek to come to an agreement that can pass both chambers.

It will be a tall order.

Sens. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) will be joined on the conference committee by Reps. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) and John Knight (D-Montgomery).

One lobbyist Yellowhammer spoke with Tuesday evening put the odds of a stalemate at about 50 percent, with the House dug in on earmarking money for coastal infrastructure projects and the Senate opposed.

Senator Slade Blackwell (R-Mountain Brook) seemed to sum up the perspective of many non-South Alabama legislators when he told ABC 33/40 he believes it’s “more important to help disable children verse sending more money to Mobile and Baldwin county after they have already received over $2.1 billion is BP settlement money.”

“The citizens of Mobile and Baldwin County suffered from that oil spill,” Sen. Vivian Davis Figure (D-Mobile) said on the other side. “They did the suffering.”

The conference committee will meet Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., with both chambers reconvening an hour later.

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2 years ago

Two Alabama senators resigned from Republican caucus after lottery vote. Here’s why.

Sen. Paul Bussman (left) and Sen. Dick Brewbaker (right) announced their resignations from the Senate Republican Caucus.
Sen. Paul Bussman (left) and Sen. Dick Brewbaker (right) announced their resignations from the Senate Republican Caucus.
Sen. Paul Bussman (left) and Sen. Dick Brewbaker (right) announced their resignations from the Senate Republican Caucus.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Two senators have resigned from the Senate Republican Caucus in the wake of last week’s vote to approve a statewide lottery, citing policy differences and claiming senate leaders violated their own rules in an effort to muscle the bill through.

The bill, which was approved by a margin of 21-12, would send $100 million of lottery revenue each year to Medicaid, which is facing a $70 million shortfall this year, with the rest going to the General Fund.

RELATED: Here’s how each Alabama Senator voted on the lottery

The bill endured a filibuster on the senate floor, which requires a three-fifths vote (21 of 35 senators) to “cloture,” or end.

Republicans have a long-standing agreement not to cloture each other, but as the caucus grew (there are currently 27 Republican senators), senate leaders knew it would become more difficult to avoid splintering on some divisive issues. As a result, the Senate Republican Caucus adopted a rule stipulating that Republicans could not cloture one of their own without 21 Republicans banding together to do it.

The rule had not been tested to this point, but as conservative lawmakers continued filibustering the lottery, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) moved to end the debate by circulating a “cloture petition.” The petition received enough signatures to break the filibuster, but it did not have the 21 Republican signatures required under the GOP caucus rules.

However, since caucus rules are not binding for the full body — they are more akin to gentlemen’s agreements — the decision was made to push forward to pass the lottery bill. Not all members of Senate leadership supported the move; Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) did not sign the cloture petition.

But as a result of the way the vote was handled, Sen. Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) announced he is resigning from the Republican caucus effectively immediately, and released the following statement:

As a Republican, I have strongly support the Republican mission of fiscal responsibility, limited government and personal freedom. I am a proud member of the Republican Party and will remain a proud member of the GOP. However as of Monday, I will no longer affiliate with the Senate majority caucus. In order for the Alabama Senate to operate fairly, we have a set rules by which all members must abide. In both the Republican and Democrat caucuses, there are also rules that apply. This organized process is crucial to a fair and transparent government. It is when these rules are not followed that the breakdown of the system occurs.

The process broke down last week when these rules were violated. These rules cannot be used when convenient and discarded when it is inconvenient. This is not about me. This is not about a lottery. This is about who controls the government of Alabama. Do the people control the government or is it still the back room deals and special interest groups that continue to control the state? I can no longer sit back and ignore the actions of the Alabama Senate Republican Caucus leadership, which are misguided, unequally applied, punitive and divisive. As a result, the Caucus has made a significant shift in priorities since 2010. In order for us to be successful in Alabama, we cannot return to the old ways of doing business. We are expected to do better and we must do better.

This is not Sen. Bussman’s first run-in with Senate leadership. He was stripped of his vice-chairmanship of the powerful Senate Rules Committee earlier this year for a previous dispute.

Senator Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) also announced he is exiting the Senate Republican caucus, echoing Sen. Bussman’s concern over the rules and telling the Montgomery Advertiser, “If you’re going to be in a political group, you need to make sure you share political priorities.”

Both senators have expressed concerns about the GOP-controlled legislature not being as committed to limited government reforms as it once was.

A request for comment from Sen. Del Marsh’s was not immediately returned.

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