Special session is a win-win

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 4, 2005

Sometimes everyone involved wins. When we do, it’s called a “win-win.”

This Special Session was a “win-win” for everyone.

The Governor was a winner because he gambled on the timing and content of the Special Session.

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Originally he considered calling the session the Monday after the Regular Session ended.

He originally considered including only the General Fund Budget and related bills.

However, he waited two months and included a total of 15 bills, most unrelated to the General Fund.

All 15 passed easily.

It was a “win-win” Special Session.

The Alabama Senate was a winner because it worked effectively and efficiently.

The power struggles which dominated the 2005 Regular Session were secondary rather than primary forces.

Interactions between members were civil and respectful.

In fact, more legislation was passed in eight calendar days than in the 105-day Regular Session.

We were in and out in five legislative days, the shortest possible time allowed by the Alabama Constitution to pass a bill.

It was a “win-win” Special Session.

The members of the Senate Democratic Caucus were winners for the same reasons the Senate was a winner.

The same can be said for the “Independent Democrats” and Republicans who jointly make up the “Conservative Caucus.”

It was a “win-win” Special Session.

Senate President Pro Tem Lowell Barron was a winner because the Senate did not reorganize.

In addition, the rumors about cutting his budget as a symbolic step toward reorganizing the Senate did not materialize.

Neither effort played out openly.

It was a “win-win” Special Session for Senator Barron.

Senator Roger Bedford, Chair of the Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee (F&TG), was a winner because the budget was not taken away by certain members of the Conservative Caucus.

Coming up to the start of the session, rumors ran rampant about the budget being taken away from Senator Bedford.

The effort died a quiet death due to skillful legislative navigation by Senator Bedford and others such as Senator Hinton Mitchem.

This Special Session was a “win-win” for Senator Bedford.

The Alabama Association of School Boards and Alabama Education Association (AEA) were winners because the 10 Mill Bill and Students Average Daily Attendance Bill passed.

(I sponsored the 10 Mill Bill, and that makes me a winner).

Senator Hinton Mitchem, who sponsored the Sexual Predator Bill in the Regular Session and passed it in the Special Session, was a winner.

(The Alabama Attorney General also pushed this bill so that makes him a winner too.)

It was a “win-win Special Session.

The Eminent Domain Bill sponsored by Senator Jack Biddle, who had sponsored it in the Senate during the Regular Session, passed with unanimous votes in the Senate and House. It was a “win-win” for Senator Biddle and the people of Alabama.

The State employees were unexpected winners.

They had commitments for a 4 percent pay raise going into the session, which was a great achievement considering the financial condition of the General Fund.

However, they came out of the session with a 6 percent raise, some 50 percent more.

State employees are truly underpaid so this was not only a win for them but for the State of Alabama.

It was a real “win-win.”

We are all winners because we may have avoided a second special session.

So many other critical and urgent bills were passed. If we had focused only on the General Fund Budget, some of the other bills likely would have us drawn back in a second special session.

It was a “win-win” Special Session for all Alabama.

Several actions by the Legislature may turn out to be less of a win than appears at first blush.

We were in such a hurry we could not have considered all potential implications of the Eminent Domain and Sexual Predator bills.

Until proven otherwise, they are still a “win-win.”

Many other individuals won.

So did other groups.

However, the biggest winners were the people of Alabama.

That truly makes this Special Session a special “win-win.”

Isn’t it wonderful when everyone wins?

Now on to the Daily Diary.

Saturday – I had lunch with former Circuit Judge J. C. Norton and made remarks at the National Voting Rights Museum’s Living History Exhibit of Reverend Lonnie Brown.

I handled many other matters including communicating with various citizens and leaders.

I worked on Sketches and other challenges.

Sunday – I did Radio Sunday School, Radio Education and Sunday Review.

I attended Sunday School, Sunday Services and a Missions program.

I had dinner with Barbara and Horace Brown, a couple who lost 2 children to street violence and are deeply involved in a non-violence initiative.

Monday – I did the following:

attended a Team Selma meeting; had lunch with Dr. James Mitchell, President of Wallace Community College of Selma; worked on Sketches; and handled matters related to the Special Legislative Session.

I shared with young leaders participating in the Michael Figures Leadership Experience. I talked with various citizens as well as several leaders such as Senator Vivian Davis Figures.

Tuesday – I traveled to Montgomery for the following: a Rules Committee meeting; a Senate Session; a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting; a Senate Black Caucus meeting; a Confirmations Committee meeting; a Supplemental Appropriations Conference Committee meeting; and individual meetings with senators, representatives, lobbyists and others.

I also had three interviews with the news media and dinner with several senators and other key players in the legislative process before returning to Selma.

Wednesday – I talked with the news media, various leaders and citizens.

I participated in a radio program called a Public Conversation.

I talked to various leaders including the following:

Charles McCrary, President of Alabama Power Company; Anita Archie, Executive Director of

Riverfront Development Foundation; Joyce Bigbee, Director of the Legislative Fiscal Office; and Lee Jackson, a salt-water shrimp farmer in Lowndes County.

I had several other meetings before traveling to Eutaw, Alabama where I talked with several leaders.

I returned to Selma and worked into the night.

Thursday – I had breakfast with Selma Mayor James Perkins, Jr. and Wallace Community College President Dr. James Mitchell before traveling to Hoover for a meeting.

I returned to Selma where I met individually with the following:

Ann Fitts about educating and caring for our children; Billy Atchison about services of Alabama Power; and Rita Lett about Selma news and numerous other matters.

I also talked with various leaders such as Dr. Paul Hubbert, Senator Roger Bedford, Anita Archie, Joyce Bigbee and Lorraine Capers.

Friday – I worked on Sketches before traveling to Marion to make remarks at a Black Belt Action Commission’s event called Rural Economic Prosperity Summit. I talked with various leaders including Margaret Bentley and Phyllis Belcher before returning to Selma to participate in several meetings, to continue working on Sketches and to talk with various persons including lobbyist Carol Brown.

EPILOGUE – Too often our winning means someone else’s losing.

It’s “winning over” rather than “winning with.”

Every now and then, everybody wins.

That’s what happened in this Special Legislative Session.

Perhaps it is an example we can follow more often.