Yesterday took some surprising twists, which is not surprising when dealing with the Alabama Senate. Always expect the unexpected with that group.
You’ll recall from the newsletter you received and the blog post below that we expected a bill decreasing regulation on AT&T to take up most or all of the day. Well, that bill got bumped. The Rules Committee decided somewhat at the last minute not to bring it up. Instead, they proposed a special order calendar of about 30 “non-controversial” bills they hoped they could pass fairly quickly (bolstering the Senate’s claims that they are actually working this year, unlike the previous two years) and then move on to a calendar with some more controversial bills, including ours.
Instead of quickly processing a non-controversial calendar, they got a filibuster. It seems the Republican minority decided they’d had all they could take of the Rules Committee proposing surprise special order calendars at the last minute, not giving everyone sufficient time to read all the bills on the calendar and identify any issues they have with the proposed legislation. Without wading into Alabama partisan politics (FTH is strictly non-partisan), it seems like a legitimate complaint. What I don’t understand is why they chose yesterday to pitch their battle on this issue.
The Senate Rules Committee has been proposing special order calendars anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours before the Senate convenes for as long as I’ve been watching AL politics (since 2005). This is in stark contrast to the way the House operates, where they almost always have at least 24 hours to research the issues on an SO calendar before convening. Certainly, the House’s method seems more reasonable. But as I already said, the Senate has been operating in the same manner for at least the past few years. Why filibuster over this yesterday?
My guess is that there was some other underlying issue also at work in the shadows. There’s no point in speculating; all that matters is that instead of waiting out a legitimate debate on AT&T deregulation yesterday, we were treated to an all-day filibuster by the Republicans. Needless to say, they never got close to finishing the “non-controversial” calendar and thus were miles away from getting to the controversial calendar which would have featured our bill.
Because yesterday’s events were a surprise to us (and the Senate leadership), everything’s up in the air at the moment. It might be until late next week before we have any firm idea on whether the minority will return to their filibuster after the break.
If they get satisfaction and back down, then we will probably come up Tuesday after the break. If something does not get worked out, this could turn into the new bingo, sucking up the rest of the session into a black hole of filibustering.