Snow storm freezes action in Alabama Legislature
by Tim Lockette
Jan 28, 2014 | 2827 views |  0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MONTGOMERY – For more than a year, Rep. Koven L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, has been trying to pass a bill that would toughen penalties for funeral home directors who cheat their customers.

Brown hoped to get the bill through a House committee this week, but Jack Frost had other ideas.

“We’re not going to have enough people to do anything,” said Brown, one of the few local lawmakers who actually made it to Montgomery on Tuesday.

A statewide snow-and-ice storm hit nearly every part of the state Tuesday, and it chilled action in the Alabama Legislature. Only 40 of the 105 members of the state House of Representatives showed up Tuesday – 13 short of the quorum needed to convene. In the Senate, where 22 of the 35 members made it through the storm, senators quickly dispatched more than a dozen bills. Perhaps the most controversial among them was a measure to ban the state Department of Education from regulating most aspects of private schools. The bill passed, according to Senate records, and is headed for the House.

Some lawmakers set out for the state capital Tuesday morning, but were turned back by the weather. Rep. Randy Wood, R-Saks, said he traveled as far as Rockford – about halfway between Anniston and Montgomery – the roads were too icy to go on. Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, said he too tried to travel down U.S. 231 but was forced to turn back. Rep. Barbara Boyd decided not to leave Anniston after heavy snow began there.

The snow will cost legislators at least one day of deliberation this year. By law, the Alabama Legislature meets for exactly 30 days per year. Tuesday’s Senate meeting, and the failed House meeting, will count one day off that total. Legislative rules require both houses to try to convene tomorrow, though House and Senate leaders urged lawmakers not to show up for safety reasons. Both Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R- Anniston, said the House and Senate would try to convene at 10 a.m. Thursday – and would wait as long as it takes to get a quorum.

Brown, the Jacksonville lawmaker, said the delay was typical of the legislative process, in which the most unlikely things emerge to delay or derail a bill.

“Everything down here is the luck of the draw,” he said.

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.

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