Today was day 25 of 30 legislative meeting days this session. The House convened and did business; the Senate was in recess, trying to work out a compromise that would allow them to pass some bills here at the very end of the session. As soon as I hear anything about a confirmed compromise, I’ll post it here.
What that means for the Gourmet Beer Bill is that we still have a chance this session. If the Senate reaches a compromise during recess today or tomorrow or even Monday, they could convene on the 26th legislative meeting day Tuesday and have 2 days (Tuesday and Thursday) to pass their own bills to send to the House. For those two days, they will only be considering Senate bills, as they are required to deal with bills passed by the House for the final 3 days of the session, which would include the budget.
Our Senate sponsor Parker Griffith is firmly committed to doing everything he can to get our bill considered at whatever point the Senate starts passing bills. So we could very well see the Gourmet Beer Bill come up in the Senate next week, be passed, and make it to the House the following week.
This is all very complicated, so I hope I haven’t lost you. And it gets more complicated before it gets any clearer. You see, not passing the House BIR vote on April 3rd has turned out to be a good thing. It may be hard to believe, but it’s true. If we had passed that BIR, we would have passed the House, and then the Gourmet Beer Bill would be one of well over 200 House bills fighting to the death for consideration by the Senate in the final days of the 2007 session, along with the State budget. Folks, the Senate isn’t going to get the budget and over 200 other House bills passed in 3 days.
In contrast, there is no backlog of Senate bills waiting to be considered by the House. The Senate hasn’t done anything this session. At most, they are only going to pass a handful of bills next week that will go on to be considered by the House the following week. And the House can only consider Senate bills in those last 3 days just as the Senate can only consider House bills in those last 3 days. Because the Senate hasn’t done its job this session, the House will largely be left twiddling its thumbs toward the end of the session. They will have just a few bills from the Senate to look at, and with any luck, the Gourmet Beer Bill will be one of them.
There again, the House BIR disaster that took place on April 3rd has been turned in our favor. That event and the audio recording we released in its wake really energized the FTH support base. All of you were justifiably outraged at the gross misinformation that Representatives were using to argue against our bill, and you got on the phone and on the keyboard and made calls and sent letters, and the result is that a tremendous amount of education has taken place among members of the House regarding our issue. Because of you.
We were only 3 votes short of passing the BIR the first time around. In light of the improved understanding of our issue as proven by feedback we’ve heard from Representatives themselves, we firmly believe the Gourmet Beer Bill will pass the House if given a second chance this year.
It all boils down to whether or not the Senate decides to pass some bills this year. If they reach a compromise before the next time they convene, I believe you’ll see the 6% limit raised in Alabama this year. If they remain deadlocked, then we never had a chance. A lot of important legislation will die this year if they remain stalled for the remainder of the session.
And the citizens of Alabama will be outraged.