By Adam Smith
The North Jefferson News
Two of north Jefferson County’s state leaders said they were disappointed over the Legislature’s lack of action during two sessions.
Sen. Scott Beason, R-17th and Rep. Allen Treadaway, R-51st, said partisan in-fighting killed many important bills that would have had a positive impact on Alabamians.
The regular session adjourned on May 20 without the passage of the state’s education budget. The inaction by the Legislature forced Gov. Bob Riley to call a special session on May 27. A finalized education budget was passed on May 31.
Beason opposed the education budget while Treadaway voted for it.
Treadaway said the budget would have passed during regular session, but said the Senate stayed bogged down in debates over a gaming bill.
“I voted for it because there was a fair balance in the funds we had available and what needed to be done,” he said. “Did we make everybody happy? No.”
The finalized education budget of $636 billion cut higher education funding by about 5 percent and will dip into the state’s Education Trust Fund.
Beason said taking money out of the state’s “rainy day account” was the primary reason he voted against the budget.
“Emergencies are unforeseen circumstances; that’s what a rainy day account is,” Beason said. “You don’t use money in the cookie jar to pay the cable bill. The cookie jar is for when your car breaks down and you didn’t know it was going to.”
Beason also expressed frustration that immigration and property reappraisal bills were never considered. “We didn’t do the things that were promised,” Beason said. “The Senate leadership said that wasn’t important.”
Additionally, he said one of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed is ethics reform in state government. He said a failed ethics bill would have required lawmakers to post dealings with state government on an Internet site.
“The public deserves to see what their elected officials are up to,” he said. “We have too many legislators doing business with the state.”
Treadaway said a “watered down” version of a bill to ban the transfer of campaign contributions from one political action committee to another should have been passed.
He said he was a critic of the bill and that it could have been stronger, but it would have been a step in the right direction. He said if the state doesn’t have some sweeping ethics reform, citizens can expect to see more of the same from their lawmakers.
Treadaway, in the second year of his term, said he was disappointed that the House worked on as many as 170 bills that were never heard by the Senate.
“There was a lot of work that went into getting those bills passed,” he said. “A lot of those bills dealt with municipalities around the state and they had no opposition. We worked for months in regular session only for them to die.”
Both Beason and Treadaway said they are hearing rumblings about another possible special session before year’s end.
One of those special sessions may deal with Jefferson County’s ongoing struggles to pay back more than $3 billion.
Treadaway said a session may have to be called if a deal is struck between the county and bond holders.
“Any deal that is struck by the county commission has to come before the Legislature,” he said. “If a deal is struck and we can avoid bankruptcy, we’ll have to go into special session to vote on it.”
Beason also sounded off on the sewer issue this week and said he will not support a non-user fee for county residents who are not on the sewer.
“If there’s any way I can make sure that doesn’t happen, I’ll kill it if I can.”
By Adam Smith
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