The Alabama Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs held a meeting Tuesday where a variety of bills were discussed, including two designated for public hearings.
Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Auburn) brought forth SB80 for discussion, a bill that vets candidates before being added to regulatory boards, which was given a unanimously favorable report.
Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City) garnered a favorable report for SB135, which prohibits the institution of additional fees in regard to the purchase of weapons, ammunition or the relevant permits.
A bill by Sen. Vivian Figures (R-Mobile), SB133, which alters the composition of the Historical Commission to include an appointee from the Alabama Black Heritage Council, also gained a favorable report after an amendment was added to include an appointee from a North Alabama university.
Additional bills also gained a favorable report from the commission, including SB54, which extends the terms of Trails Commission board members, SB141, which allows state employees to stay on-board with their respective departments in order to train replacements, and SB73, which increases the allowance for registrars. The increase in allowance would cost the state $390,000 this year and $1.6 million thereafter.
The main action of today’s agenda centered around two bills, one from Sen. Lee Pittman (R-Birmingham) and another from Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa).
Pittman’s bill, SB119, would reduce Alabama’s Legislature to one chamber, saving the state an estimated $8 million or more. Pittman noted that Nebraska has been a unicameral Legislature since the 1930s and that such a move would add transparency to the process and ensure that more can be accomplished.
Objections to Pittman’s legislation were numerous. Legislators voiced concerns over the perceived lack of checks and balances, the lack of adequate debate and discussion and apprehension over eliminating the structure established by the Founding Fathers.
Pittman’s bill was meant to have public input, but no one was in attendance to provide such input. A vote on the bill was delayed.
Allen’s bill would establish the Alabama Heritage Preservation Act which would, at its core, outlaw the removal of historical monuments. It would also put in place a strenuous appeals process for entities looking to remove such monuments.
Mike Williams, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, spoke first in favor of Allen’s legislation.
“Don’t disgrace my grandfathers by allowing political correctness to come into this state,” Williams said. “It starts and it snowballs. We don’t want to offend anybody but we can’t erase history as it is.”
Kevin Mount, who noted he was representing himself, referenced an unconfirmed speech from a black Confederate soldier who spoke before the Mississippi Legislature in 1890 to support legislation to honor Confederate veterans.
“Today this is about Confederate history and we all know that because that’s what under assault right now,” Mount said. “But that’s not where it’s going to stop.”
“Confederate history should not be a black-white issues. People from outside of this state have turned it into a black-white issue.”
The Rev. Rayford Mack, with the NAACP, spoke last and started by condemning Mound for his comments and noted that cities and counties should be able to make decisions regarding the monuments in their cities and the desires of those cities’ constituents.
Voting on Allen’s bill was delayed so public input could be finished on Tuesday.