Paul DeMarco: Special sessions for Alabama legislature should only focus on pressing issues for state

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Image source: Parsons, Lee & Juliano, P.C.

It appears there are plans for two special sessions this fall for the Alabama Legislature to address a couple of important issues for the state.

First, Governor Kay Ivey will request lawmakers meet to approve a package to finance a phased-in construction project to build new prisons and renovate existing facilities. The chronic problems with the corrections system have reached a pinnacle and have to finally be resolved. This has been a long time coming, and it appears there is general consensus on legislation to address the state’s aging prison facilities.

This special session to address the Department of Corrections will probably happen towards the end of September.

Secondly, the Alabama Legislative Reapportionment Committee is in the process of hearing from the public to finalize the new maps for the legislature, state school board, and congressional districts.

The districts will be based on the 2020 census results and must be done in preparation for next year’s elections. It appears that the session will be held in the last weeks of October.

Now some special interest groups want their own bills taken up during the special sessions. For example, there are those individuals who already want to change the recently passed law allowing marijuana for medical use to rush their product out to the public. Of course, they don’t care that state representatives and senators should not be distracted from the important task that Alabama leaders must address this fall.

Debating any bills for these special sessions other than those that are time-sensitive and critical to the state now is a disservice to the public. The Alabama Legislature will be back in regular session in just a few months in January of 2022, and any legislation can be taken up at that time.

The Governor and legislators should reject any push by special interest groups to include anything other than the state’s pressing issues in these two specials sessions, and then lawmakers should go home.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.