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Sales tax bill nearing passage

In the Alabama Legislature, “local bills” are not debated quite like legislation with statewide ramifications.

The Marengo County sales tax bill — which deals only with Marengo County, thus making it a local bill — still has to pass the entire Alabama Legislature and be signed by Gov. Bob Riley. And in the Alabama Legislature, you’ll be hard-pressed to hear any debate on a “local bill.”

In accordance with state government tradition, only the legislators who represent a specific area have input on local bills affecting that area. A state representative from north Alabama, for example, would not offer any input on a tax bill affecting Marengo County residents, and vice versa.

State Reps. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, and Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, both represent parts of Marengo County, and they support the sales tax bill. But Jackson and Singleton make up only two-thirds of the local House of Representatives delegation.

State Rep. Lucius Black, D-York, represents the 71st District, which includes Marengo, Greene and Sumter counties. Black has not attended the legislative session at all this year. He also missed a number of meeting days last year.

According to Greg Pappas, clerk of the House of Representatives, Black is very ill.

In a call placed to Black’s residence shortly before the Alabama Legislature opened its 2004 session on Feb. 3, Black’s wife said she wasn’t sure if her husband would be able to attend this year.

In terms of the Marengo County sales tax bill, that means the entire local delegation will not vote on the issue. In cases like that, Pappas actually votes for Black.

Last year Black signed a power of attorney over to Pappas to sign his bills. In the case of the legislation for bingo gaming in Greene County, “he [Black] introduced the bill and then he became ill,” Pappas said. “The only way to get that bill out of local legislation was to have a meeting of that committee, unless I had his power of attorney to sign that bill out of committee.”

Pappas said Black would call or send a letter to him expressing his intentions.

“I ended up having power of attorney on about three or four [representatives] last time,” Pappas said, adding that it was the first time he has performed such a duty.

In the case of the Marengo County sales tax, Pappas likely will cast Black’s vote this year.