Once again, the Senate is being held hostage by one Senator who is not getting his way. That sure didn’t take long, did it? This is essentially what happened last year, only now it’s a different Senator throwing a tantrum over a different bill.

You can hardly blame Phil Poole. He didn’t design the system. He’s just using it to his advantage, as many other Senators have used it to their advantage. As they say, don’t hate the player, hate the game.

The sad reality is that the rules under which our Alabama Senate operates allow one Senator to hold the entire session hostage as long as he can speak. One Senator can filibuster ad infinitum until he gets his way on a pet issue. And if the Senators who stand on the other side of the issue are ornery enough, nothing gets done. Period. That’s the story of the entire 2008 Session of the Alabama Senate. Pray that it’s not the story of 2009.

That’s your tax dollars at work. Those are your elected officials. Getting paid $50,000 of taxpayer money every year to stand in front of a microphone for a few hours, two days a week, only a few months a year, bickering over pet issues and holding up scores of necessary bills, many of which never see the light of day.

It’s far too early to get despondent. It’s entirely possible this could clear up in a few days and lots of bills will pass. But we certainly have no guarantees. The system itself is deeply flawed and needs reform, and voters need to punish some legislators at the polls next year for engaging in absurdly childish and wasteful antics.

Just keep watch to see if/when things get moving, or if we have another session-long filibuster…