Array of bills die slow deaths
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–In French it is called a "coup d'etat" (Pronounced: Coo-de-tah), and it is defined as the sudden overthrow of a ruler.
Which makes me wonder if what was tried in the State Senate a few days ago should be called a coup d'Barron.
A group of eight Democratic senators submitted a notice in writing that they would seek a change in Senate rules which was clearly aimed at removing Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, from his all-powerful post as president pro temp of the Senate.
Specifically, the senators wanted to amend the rule that requires 21 votes to remove the pro temp. They wanted to lower this vote to 18, a simple majority of the Senate.
The disgruntled senators…including several who have long been staunch supporters of Barron…didn't come up with the 21 votes they needed but their mini-revolt showed that Sen. Barron no longer walks with the big stick he once had.
The numbers tell the story: Barron already had 10 Republicans in the Senate on his case, now they have been joined by eight Democrats. That's not enough to throw him out of office but it is a majority of the 35-member Senate.
The remaining months of Barron's term as president pro temp…the next election will be in January 2007 when the new Legislature meets in organizational session…could be stormy.
As far as Barron is concerned, he sought to make light of the coup. He said it was just "end of the session" tension.
Among the notable obits:
A bill which would have allowed high-stake electronic bingo games at the dog tracks in Birmingham and Mobile and another which would have legalized lotteries and casino gambling in Alabama; A measure which would have allowed the people to vote on whether they wanted a convention called to write a new State Constitution.
A measure which would have authorized municipalities to install cameras at busy intersections to videotape motorists who ran traffic lights;
A bill which would require a unanimous vote by a jury to impose the death penalty, and a similar bill which would probity a judge from imposing a death penalty if the jury had recommended a life sentence.
While the list was long of the bills that died during the session, one of the most controversial bills to pass…and certainly the one that generated the most advertising revenue for television…was the complex and hard to explain measure which stripped from the Public Service Commission much of its power in regulating BellSouth and other companies that provide landline telephone service in the state.
Young had withdrawn his early agreement to cooperate with the grand jury, but last week a new deal was struck under which the feds will drop some of the charges against him in return for his testimony. This was not good news for Don Siegelman, who still talks often of another race for governor in 2006. Young has already pleaded guilty to several charges including giving cash and gifts of more than $100,000 to Nick Bailey, a Siegelman cabinet member, to get help for some of his clients. He has also admitted he paid former Cherokee County Probate Judge Philip Jordan $65,000 to get him to persuade the Cherokee County Commission to approve a landfill permit transfer. Judge Jordan has already been sentenced to six months in prison for this crime plus being ordered to pay restitution.