Archive for the ‘Alabama legislature’ Category

>Western Tribune Column February 4 2009

February 4, 2009

>This is my column from today’s Western Tribune.

Update: The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care bill (medical marijuana bill), which I mention in this column, will be before the Judiciary committee Thursday. Go to the link to see how you can support this effort. Priscilla Dunn of Bessemer is one of the members of the committee. Urge her to support the bill.

The political arena will be more active than usual over the next few months, as potential state senators scramble for the seat recently vacated by E. B. McClain. And when the special election is over, there may be a vacant state representative or Bessemer Council seat to fill. And if a certain state representative wins, a certain Bessemer council person will most likely run for that seat.

Fruit basket turnover.

Then, this month, Artur Davis is expected to announce his run for Governor. Various office holders, including one who is planning to run for McClain’s seat, have expressed interest in that office as well.

In the meantime, the Alabama legislative session begins this week. Last year, the senate shut down, who even remembers why? What we remember is a group of elected officials putting their differences above the interests of the people they represent.

As of this writing, 216 bills have been pre-filed in the house, and 59 in the senate. This includes a bill that would prohibit the cloning of humans as well as one that would require the owner of dangerous dogs to post warning signs on their property.

Wouldn’t it good to add this: prohibit the cloning of dangerous dogs, and require dangerous humans to post warning signs on their property?

A bill will once again be introduced to outlaw salvia, a little known plant that has even littler effects. As Loretta Nall says, if they want to go around outlawing problem plants, let’s start with kudzu.

Seriously (if the Alabama legislature can be taken seriously) there are some important issues that will be addressed during the session. Budgets and taxes and things like that. Let’s hope the legislators will be big boys and girls and play nice.

A bill that would legalize medical marijuana will likely be introduced. The American Medical Association recommends relaxing restrictions on the medical use of the plant, and science backs this position.

Marijuana is already the biggest cash crop in the state, with almost three times the production value as the runner up, cotton, according to the most recent numbers I found. We might as well regulate it. And put it to good use.

Other bills that should be passed include a hate crimes bill that includes sexual orientation and an anti-bullying bill that would protect kids in school. Our streets and schools need to be safer.

The upcoming weeks promise to be interesting.

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Country Music is OK*

May 19, 2008

*That is more than I can say about the Alabama state Senate.

I have little to say about the state legislature. Well, the Senate. If we are not worthy of them going to Montgomery and doing what they are being paid to do, then they are not worthy of (very much of) my time.

But to kill several important (and progressive) bills because they can’t come to consensus on $25 million of the education budget is plain pitiful. $25 million sounds like a lot of money, but in the education budget, which is about $6.36 billion, it’s chump change, about 0.4% of the budget.

I know there is a lot of bickering over this budget, involving more than the 25 million, but still. In a year when proration is being discussed due to decreased revenues we are going to spend $400,000 on a special session because the people we sent there to do the job can’t do it?

So I will just focus on today’s big election. No, not the one in Kentucky and Oregon. I’m talking about David Cook and David Archuleta on American Idol, who will give their all in their attempt to become the next forgotten winner.

Of all the previous winners, only Carrie Underwood seems to have locked up a career. Kelly Clarkson, forgotten; Ruben Studdard, underwhelming; Taylor Hicks, Grease (not that there is anything wrong with theater, but hardly where music fans expect to find their “Idols”).

No, for success, you have to look at the losers: Chris Daughtry comes to mind. And Jennifer Hudson, an early exiter in 2004, has an Oscar for Dreamgirls (OK, I know, Hollywood isn’t where music fans look for “Idols” either, but success is success and she has an oscar!)

Back to “country music” where the Carrie Underwood reference was supposed to lead. The New Yorker stated that “Any enterprise that lets Dolly Parton expand on her work for an hour is adding to the common good,” referring to the week that the contestants worked with the superstar and her influence on them and the show.

True. And country music continues to grow. Sunday night’s Country Music Awards on CBS had 11.7 million viewers, second only to Desperate Housewives (ABC) 16.8 million. Some of us saw both (there are reasons to watch DH) and got to see this performance by Taylor Swift, one of the reasons country music is growing in popularity. And as you watch, remember how in the past I have shown favor toward people who displayed pure joy…well watch Taylor at the end of her song and you can tell how thrilled she is with her performance. The first video I posted of this has been removed and this one most likely will too, so watch now.

I just wonder what her hairdresser thought of this.

>Country Music is OK*

May 19, 2008

>*That is more than I can say about the Alabama state Senate.

I have little to say about the state legislature. Well, the Senate. If we are not worthy of them going to Montgomery and doing what they are being paid to do, then they are not worthy of (very much of) my time.

But to kill several important (and progressive) bills because they can’t come to consensus on $25 million of the education budget is plain pitiful. $25 million sounds like a lot of money, but in the education budget, which is about $6.36 billion, it’s chump change, about 0.4% of the budget.

I know there is a lot of bickering over this budget, involving more than the 25 million, but still. In a year when proration is being discussed due to decreased revenues we are going to spend $400,000 on a special session because the people we sent there to do the job can’t do it?

So I will just focus on today’s big election. No, not the one in Kentucky and Oregon. I’m talking about David Cook and David Archuleta on American Idol, who will give their all in their attempt to become the next forgotten winner.

Of all the previous winners, only Carrie Underwood seems to have locked up a career. Kelly Clarkson, forgotten; Ruben Studdard, underwhelming; Taylor Hicks, Grease (not that there is anything wrong with theater, but hardly where music fans expect to find their “Idols”).

No, for success, you have to look at the losers: Chris Daughtry comes to mind. And Jennifer Hudson, an early exiter in 2004, has an Oscar for Dreamgirls (OK, I know, Hollywood isn’t where music fans look for “Idols” either, but success is success and she has an oscar!)

Back to “country music” where the Carrie Underwood reference was supposed to lead. The New Yorker stated that “Any enterprise that lets Dolly Parton expand on her work for an hour is adding to the common good,” referring to the week that the contestants worked with the superstar and her influence on them and the show.

True. And country music continues to grow. Sunday night’s Country Music Awards on CBS had 11.7 million viewers, second only to Desperate Housewives (ABC) 16.8 million. Some of us saw both (there are reasons to watch DH) and got to see this performance by Taylor Swift, one of the reasons country music is growing in popularity. And as you watch, remember how in the past I have shown favor toward people who displayed pure joy…well watch Taylor at the end of her song and you can tell how thrilled she is with her performance. The first video I posted of this has been removed and this one most likely will too, so watch now.

I just wonder what her hairdresser thought of this.

The California Ruling is Nothing to Sneeze At

May 19, 2008

I had a professor who used that expression frequently in class in the fall.

June weddings:

In about 27 days Californians will be able to marry (my post from Friday) the person they love. But for how long?

I am confident that Californians will vote in November to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment to take right of marriage away from same sex couples who are married over the next few months. Officials are working to verify the signatures that opponents have gathered, and they have to have about 700,000 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot. About 1.1 million signatures were turned in, and most people on both sides of the issue think this will be enough signatures to get the required number to place the proposal on the ballot.

Over the weekend I went to every California newspaper web site I could find and every one of them supported the court’s decision.

Closer to home:

Today will be an active day in the state legislature. Or not. They could bog themselves down and not pass any legislation (in which case a special session would have to be called to address the education budget).

Issues that might be voted on, though, include the statewide smoking ban*, removing sales taxes from groceries, immigration, hate crimes, pac to pac transfers and more. It would be an interesting day to be in the Senate chambers, but, ah, we get our midterm back this afternoon and so I will be sitting in class instead.

*No one will be surprised that I support the statewide smoking ban. In the news today is a report in the Los Angeles Times that bans on smoking in restaurants actually deter children from taking up the habit. A study was published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescents that in towns where smoking was not restricted, 9.6 % of youth became established smokers over the four year study period, while in towns where smoking bans were enacted, 7.9 % became smokers.

This is a greater effect than that of raising taxes on tobacco products or media campaigns according to the study author.

In other health news male trees spreading their DNA (just like human males) is the cause of many problems in the spring, as common practices of city planners and gardeners contribute to our allergies. More male trees are planted to avoid messy female trees dropping their fruit (like acorns) according to a story in the news today.

More males means more pollen, and more pollen means more runny noses and sneezing.

Speaking of sneezing, has this ever happened to you?

And most people think this is a fake sneeze, but the song is good if you like Green Day. Billy Joe sneezes right in the middle of “Hitchin a Ride”. Hmmm, Ok I get it.

>The California Ruling is Nothing to Sneeze At

May 19, 2008

>I had a professor who used that expression frequently in class in the fall.

June weddings:

In about 27 days Californians will be able to marry (my post from Friday) the person they love. But for how long?

I am confident that Californians will vote in November to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment to take right of marriage away from same sex couples who are married over the next few months. Officials are working to verify the signatures that opponents have gathered, and they have to have about 700,000 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot. About 1.1 million signatures were turned in, and most people on both sides of the issue think this will be enough signatures to get the required number to place the proposal on the ballot.

Over the weekend I went to every California newspaper web site I could find and every one of them supported the court’s decision.

Closer to home:

Today will be an active day in the state legislature. Or not. They could bog themselves down and not pass any legislation (in which case a special session would have to be called to address the education budget).

Issues that might be voted on, though, include the statewide smoking ban*, removing sales taxes from groceries, immigration, hate crimes, pac to pac transfers and more. It would be an interesting day to be in the Senate chambers, but, ah, we get our midterm back this afternoon and so I will be sitting in class instead.

*No one will be surprised that I support the statewide smoking ban. In the news today is a report in the Los Angeles Times that bans on smoking in restaurants actually deter children from taking up the habit. A study was published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescents that in towns where smoking was not restricted, 9.6 % of youth became established smokers over the four year study period, while in towns where smoking bans were enacted, 7.9 % became smokers.

This is a greater effect than that of raising taxes on tobacco products or media campaigns according to the study author.

In other health news male trees spreading their DNA (just like human males) is the cause of many problems in the spring, as common practices of city planners and gardeners contribute to our allergies. More male trees are planted to avoid messy female trees dropping their fruit (like acorns) according to a story in the news today.

More males means more pollen, and more pollen means more runny noses and sneezing.

Speaking of sneezing, has this ever happened to you?

And most people think this is a fake sneeze, but the song is good if you like Green Day. Billy Joe sneezes right in the middle of “Hitchin a Ride”. Hmmm, Ok I get it.

Alabama Hate Crimes law update, and Stonewall Findings

May 7, 2008

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to add crimes against people because of their sexual orientation to the hate crimes law. Now the bill goes to the Senate, but with only a couple of days left in the current session, it is unlikely to be considered, what with things like stimulus check exemptions and the education budget. Plus they have to consider whether to change the name of Troy State University to Troy University. Is there a sense of urgency there?

But the passage of the bill in the House is progress. At least one Republican, Pat Moore, changed her vote and voted with the majority. Change comes slowly. Progress continues.

The Stonewall Democrats conducted a census during December 2007 and January 2008 to gauge the feelings of GLBT Democrats across the nation. While not a scientific study, the results do provide a snapshot of the opinions of the community. Respondents were from all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico.

Here are some highlights. On whether ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act should be an inclusive bill, meaning protections based on gender identity should be a part, along with sexual orientation, 85% said passing an inclusive ENDA should have a high priority level, and 70% said even if that means delayed passage. I agree strongly.

Here are the top 5 issues of importance to the GLBT community (although with the economy tanking priorities may have changed since this survey was taken).

  1. Civil liberties. You know, things like freedom of speech and separation of church and state.
  2. Affordable Health care.
  3. GLBT Equality. Among GLBT issues, Non-discrimination, relationship recognition, HIV/AIDS and Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell received the highest priorities.
  4. Ending the War in Iraq.
  5. Improving Education and the Environment. (tie)

13% reported that they have served in the military. This is higher than the national average. This tells me that GLBT community is interested in serving the country and willing to fight for the liberties and rights that many of us do not have yet. And it is gives credence to the effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” DADT doesn’t really make sense anyway, as detractors say keep the ban because military personnel don’t want a gay or lesbian in the foxhole or the tent with them. But DADT allows them to be there, and they are there, fighting right beside you.

24% of respondents have children. This tells me that GLBT reproduce, something I already knew. But that is a lot of kids who would like to see their parents treated equally and their relationships recognized.

Again, these results were not scientific, but they give an idea of what Democrats who are members of the GLBT community (the ones most likely to vote and who are involved in policy and priority determination) feel.

As for the Alabama Stonewall Democrat Chapter the next meeting is Thursday, May 15 at Logan’s Roadhouse in Crestwood (7724 Ludington Ln.) at 5:30. We will be holding a candidate screening, during which we will try to determine the qualifications and priorities of the candidates and how they relate to the community. We will be voting in June for candidates for judgeships, tax assessors and other offices for which we often don’t know a lot about the candidates, so this is an opportunity to meet and hear some of them. Put this on your calendar now, and if you are not involved this would be a good time to show up and become a part of this progressive grassroots organization.

>Alabama Hate Crimes law update, and Stonewall Findings

May 7, 2008

>The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to add crimes against people because of their sexual orientation to the hate crimes law. Now the bill goes to the Senate, but with only a couple of days left in the current session, it is unlikely to be considered, what with things like stimulus check exemptions and the education budget. Plus they have to consider whether to change the name of Troy State University to Troy University. Is there a sense of urgency there?

But the passage of the bill in the House is progress. At least one Republican, Pat Moore, changed her vote and voted with the majority. Change comes slowly. Progress continues.

The Stonewall Democrats conducted a census during December 2007 and January 2008 to gauge the feelings of GLBT Democrats across the nation. While not a scientific study, the results do provide a snapshot of the opinions of the community. Respondents were from all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico.

Here are some highlights. On whether ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act should be an inclusive bill, meaning protections based on gender identity should be a part, along with sexual orientation, 85% said passing an inclusive ENDA should have a high priority level, and 70% said even if that means delayed passage. I agree strongly.

Here are the top 5 issues of importance to the GLBT community (although with the economy tanking priorities may have changed since this survey was taken).

  1. Civil liberties. You know, things like freedom of speech and separation of church and state.
  2. Affordable Health care.
  3. GLBT Equality. Among GLBT issues, Non-discrimination, relationship recognition, HIV/AIDS and Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell received the highest priorities.
  4. Ending the War in Iraq.
  5. Improving Education and the Environment. (tie)

13% reported that they have served in the military. This is higher than the national average. This tells me that GLBT community is interested in serving the country and willing to fight for the liberties and rights that many of us do not have yet. And it is gives credence to the effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” DADT doesn’t really make sense anyway, as detractors say keep the ban because military personnel don’t want a gay or lesbian in the foxhole or the tent with them. But DADT allows them to be there, and they are there, fighting right beside you.

24% of respondents have children. This tells me that GLBT reproduce, something I already knew. But that is a lot of kids who would like to see their parents treated equally and their relationships recognized.

Again, these results were not scientific, but they give an idea of what Democrats who are members of the GLBT community (the ones most likely to vote and who are involved in policy and priority determination) feel.

As for the Alabama Stonewall Democrat Chapter the next meeting is Thursday, May 15 at Logan’s Roadhouse in Crestwood (7724 Ludington Ln.) at 5:30. We will be holding a candidate screening, during which we will try to determine the qualifications and priorities of the candidates and how they relate to the community. We will be voting in June for candidates for judgeships, tax assessors and other offices for which we often don’t know a lot about the candidates, so this is an opportunity to meet and hear some of them. Put this on your calendar now, and if you are not involved this would be a good time to show up and become a part of this progressive grassroots organization.

A Big Tuesday in Alabama

February 5, 2008


All the entertainment is not in New Orleans. In Montgomery the Alabama legislature begins its session today. In fact hold your breath until we see an indication that the Senate will actually accomplish something. Something positive and progressive at that. Now that we know there is no discipline and that raucus politics and sucker punches are OK, who knows what will happen.

And hold your breath while we wait on the results of today’s primary elections. When I voted early this morning in Bessemer about 4 people had requested Republican ballots and about 40 had asked for Democrat ballots. That will come as no surpise to anyone except Dale Jones who once wrote “Obviously you are aware that you and your views are in the EXTREME MINORITY in Bessemer, AL ” in a comment on this blog. Since my views are pretty much in line with the Democratic candidates being voted on today, I would say my views are in the “EXTREME MAJORITY” here in Bessemer. In other words…more people share the common views of the Democratic Party than the Republican Party in Bessemer.

Celebrate Fat Tuesday today.

The Zulu parade has been my favorite.


Time for some Jambalaya and Pecan Cobbler. Happy Mardi Gras

>A Big Tuesday in Alabama

February 5, 2008

>
All the entertainment is not in New Orleans. In Montgomery the Alabama legislature begins its session today. In fact hold your breath until we see an indication that the Senate will actually accomplish something. Something positive and progressive at that. Now that we know there is no discipline and that raucus politics and sucker punches are OK, who knows what will happen.

And hold your breath while we wait on the results of today’s primary elections. When I voted early this morning in Bessemer about 4 people had requested Republican ballots and about 40 had asked for Democrat ballots. That will come as no surpise to anyone except Dale Jones who once wrote “Obviously you are aware that you and your views are in the EXTREME MINORITY in Bessemer, AL ” in a comment on this blog. Since my views are pretty much in line with the Democratic candidates being voted on today, I would say my views are in the “EXTREME MAJORITY” here in Bessemer. In other words…more people share the common views of the Democratic Party than the Republican Party in Bessemer.

Celebrate Fat Tuesday today.

The Zulu parade has been my favorite.


Time for some Jambalaya and Pecan Cobbler. Happy Mardi Gras

Bessemer Shines, Alabama House Bill 482 Does Not

May 9, 2007

Great news for Bessemer. As expected, U. S. Pipe is announcing today to build their new plant here. Robert Gordon reports that the plant will bring $23.7 million to the economy of the city. Myla Choy, a U. S. Pipe attorney said, “This is very much in line with everything going on in Bessemer. This is one piece of the Bessemer rebirth story.”

Building permits and fees alone will generate $450,000 for the city on the $45 million project. Ray Torok, company president, says, “This is a statement of commitment by U. S. Pipe to the Bessemer Community. No one is going to wake up one morning and worry that U. S. Pipe is leaving Bessemer, and in this day and age, that is no small gift.” Neither is the $116 million total annual economic impact that U. S. Pipe, with its current plant and the new one will generate for the city once it opens.

For Bessemer, named in 2002 on the Woodrow Wilson International Scholar’s dead cities list, the resurrection continues.

Stop House Bill 482

Today the Alabama House Education Policy Committee will take up HB482, the Christian heritage bill. This piece of legislation would designate the first scholastic week in November each year as Christian Heritage Week in public K-12 schools and would require daily instruction during that week on the influence of Christianity on the history and heritage of the United States. House Bill 482 singles out the influence that the Christian religion has had on our history and heritage. This is a promotion and endorsement of a particular religious belief in violation the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and numerous Supreme Court decisions, including Lemon v. Kurtzman.

The bill’s authors have made a number of findings in support of a HB 482 that are extremely misleading. For example, the Christian heritage bill states that the U.S. Supreme Court in Holy Trinity Church v. Unites States determined that the U.S. was a Christian nation. Their interpretation of this ruling is wrong. Although the court expressed its support of religious freedom when writing the opinion, the ruling is not about the First Amendment at all. Holy Trinity is a case about the importation of foreign laborers.

There are other misleading statements in their support for this bill. Email me for more information. The House Education Policy Committee should reject House Bill 482. It’s unconstitutional, and will likely lead the state into costly litigation if adopted. Public schools should seek to create an environment conducive to learning by all students and not advocate religious or anti-religious beliefs.

I am all for religious instruction and training of children in religious tradition and heritage. At home. At church. Not in our public schools.