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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Democrats announce legislative agenda

Democrats in the Alabama Legislature rolled out their agenda on Wednesday, saying their platform is a handshake with working people and not with big corporations.
They were taking a dig at Republicans, who are pushing through bills from their Handshake with Alabama, a list of campaign promises from the 2010 election.
This is the first regular session in which Democrats will be trying to pass their agenda as a minority. About two dozen Democrats were in the House chamber on Wednesday to share their goals.
Their agenda includes online filing of campaign finance forms and creating a searchable database; trying to curb the purchase of medication used in making methamphetamines; fighting distracted driving; creating tax incentives for existing and potential industries using millions of dollars from revenue from offshore oil and gas; and eliminating tax loop holes for out-of-state corporations that Democrats believe are costing the state millions in revenue.
Some of their goals are ones they had difficulty passing while they were in the majority including removing the state portion of the sales tax off of groceries, and rewriting the state's 1901 constitution.
Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, and House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, acknowledged that Democrats have been run over in the Alabama Senate. During the special session and so far in this session, Senate Republicans have quickly shut down any effort by Democrats to debate issues and moved to quickly vote on issues.
Ford said they hope, like they did with one bill during the December special session, that they will be able in the House to peel away some Republicans to vote with them on some issues.
State Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, said he is continuing his fight to remove the 4 percent state sales tax on groceries. He said he is open to talking to anyone with suggestions of how to replace that revenue.
Republicans oppose replacing the revenue by stopping Alabamians above a certain income level from deducting the federal income tax they pay from their state income tax.
Bedford is pushing a resolution that would allow people to vote in the June 2012 party primaries on whether they want the constitution rewritten by convention, which would be conducted later by a man and woman elected from each House district.
State Rep. Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, plans to introduce bills that he believes would close the loopholes for out-of-state corporations that compete with corporations headquartered here. Also, with the state needing revenue for education, Lindsey said the state is losing out on $100 million in revenue because of the loopholes.
Bedford and Rep. Napoleon Bracy, D-Prichard, said Sudafed is a main ingredient in methamphetamines and said people are crossing the border from Mississippi to purchase it so they want to make Sudafed a Class III drug, which would only allow it to be purchased by prescription.
Rep. Joe Hubbard, D-Montgomery, has introduced a bill that he believes would create greater transparency through online filing of campaign finance forms.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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