Our statewide bill, that is. The Senate adjourned yesterday without working a special order calendar, which was our only hope of getting our statewide bill passed this year. A special order calendar yesterday was the only hope a lot of people had for seeing very important legislation passed this year, as yesterday was the last day that the Senate could consider its own regular bills. They must devote the last three days of the session to addressing bills that have already passed the House, which of course includes the budgets. And probably won’t include much else other than the budgets. And the way things have been going, I wouldn’t bet the family farm they will even pass those. Here’s an editorial by the Montgomery Advertiser that summarizes where things stand: Senate still faces major problems

So there you have it folks. Little did we know when this session began that we never had any hope of passing the Gourmet Beer Bill statewide. There is nothing we could have done; it was not possible. The Senate didn’t pass any regular bills (with a couple of exceptions for HUGE issues like the Thyssen Krupp incentive package).

It doesn’t matter that we didn’t pass the House BIR vote on April 3rd. If we had, our House bill would be one of hundreds now vying for a shot at consideration by the Senate in the final three days, and we wouldn’t have stood out from many more important issues that I’m sure won’t see light of day in the Senate this year. But that House BIR vote did rally our support base and resulted in tremendous education about our issue among House members. We have received a lot of feedback from State Representatives that if the Senate had done its job and passed our bill this session, it would easily have passed the House.

But that’s water under the bridge. We must now look forward, and right in front of us we have an opportunity for success with some local bills. A Mobile county local bill (HB851) has passed the House and now has a chance to pass the Senate, where local bills do have a chance in the final days. And a Baldwin county local bill (SB352) has passed the Senate and now has a chance to pass the House. And a Jefferson county local bill (HB728) has passed committee in the House, will pass the full House Tuesday, and has a chance to pass the Senate on the final day of the session. I urge everyone who lives in these three counties to call your Representatives and Senators in the next few days to urge them to make sure these bills pass.

And if the Senate continues its fighting and gets little or nothing done in these last few days of the session, get ready for the special session. I’ve heard from a couple of different sources that Governor Riley is determined to call a special session even if the budgets pass during the regular session because the Senate stalemate resulted in a lot of broken campaign promises on issues like PAC-to-PAC transfers and ethics disclosure reform. These are issues he believes need to be addressed in 2007, and so a special session is likely.

That’s good news because we can get local bills passed in a special session. That will include the Jefferson and Mobile local bills if the Senate doesn’t get them passed during the regular session, and will also include Madison and Montgomery local bills, which didn’t get introduced during the regular session this year.

So better beer still has a great chance in Alabama this year. And next year, after almost a year of higher alcohol beer being sold in major metropolitan areas, our opponents will be able to see first hand that their arguments were baseless and all their fears will be proven misplaced. So getting a statewide bill passed in 2008 should be easy. Relatively speaking.