Yesterday the Senate really worked. They convened at 1pm and started out the day passing a few random bills and going through their usual procedural stuff before bringing up the state education budget, which they debated for a few hours. Finally, a little after 6pm a cloture motion passed cutting off debate on the budget and it passed. Although it passed unanimously, the Republican caucus and Govnernor Riley didn’t feel they’d had sufficient time to review the specifics of the budget so they launched a protest filibuster shortly after passage.
As usual, negotiations took place off the floor during the filibuster and in spite of threats to keep it going until midnight, they broke it off around 8:30 and adjourned until Thursday.
Overall that’s good news. They still need to deal with the general fund budget, but if they can match today’s performance perhaps that budget will only tie up one day as well.
It will be of interest to readers of this blog to note that one of the random bills passed before the education budget came up was HB175, which drops the minimum resident requirement from 7,000 people down to 1,000 people for municipalities in dry counties to hold wet/dry referendums. Note that the bill itself does not force any dry city to go wet, it only makes it legal for the citizens of small cities to vote on whether to go wet. It’s ludicrous that a bill was required to give the people the right to vote on such a thing. But it passed and that’s a victory for freedom. The same bill also happened to contain a provision allowing restaurants in Shelby County that already sell alcohol on Sundays to continue doing so. The Birmingham News has the details on that.