Monday, January 30, 2017

Alabama: Governing again by ‘that really grinds my gears’

By John Archibald,

How does a bill become a law in Alabama? It’s gotta start with a question:

“You know what grinds my gears?”

That has to be it. How else do you explain the rat-a-tat peppering of bills pre-filed in the Alabama Legislature?

There’s one – HB18 by Jackson County Rep. Tommy Hanes — to require 18-wheelers to travel in the right lane of the interstate unless passing. Because that grinds his gears.

Another one by Hanes would repeal the law placing civil liability on animal trappers whose devices (i.e. traps) kill or maim unsuspecting people, pets or livestock on public lands. Because nothing apparently grinds the dude’s gears like having a good trapping day ruined by the trappings of … responsibility.

Hanes has pre-filed nine bills, or 13 percent of all the House bills so far.  One would impose ventilation regulations on fire departments, one would force phone providers to tell the cops exactly where you any time they say someone’s safety is at stake, and another would limit raises for the governor’s cabinet and department heads.

Then there’s his tough-on-deadbeats bill designed to make him popular back home, even if based on a “problem” that doesn’t exist.

That bill, HB2, would ostensibly make it harder for able-bodied food stamp recipients to scam the system. But the bill’s the scam.

Right now the Department of Human Resources can, in special circumstances, request waivers for able-bodied food stamp recipients to keep them from having to meet minimum work or job training requirements. Hanes wants to eliminate the chance that somebody in special circumstances might get to eat, even though he is unable to work or go to school or check all the required boxes.

Never mind that DHR asked for no such waivers this year, and only 13 the year before. It’s more important to grease those political gears – and look tough – than to deal with real problems. Like budgets. Or prisons.

As always there’s a wave of unnecessary and foolish bills awaiting lawmakers this year. Before they try to solve important issues – or before they fail to do it, if the past holds true – they’ll have to hike across the self-serving, pandering plain of inane.

SB1, by Sen. Phil Williams in response to all who panic over the global threat to bathrooms, would require that unisex bathrooms meant for more than one person at a time (which are pretty rare around here) must be staffed by an attendant “to monitor the appropriate use of the rest room and answer any questions or concerns posed by users.”

He can call it a job creation bill, I guess. Talk about a creepy job.

Sen Dick Brewbaker has a bill – call it the “baby out with the holy water bill” that would abolish the Judicial Inquiry Commission and the Court of the Judiciary. Because he doesn’t like the ruling in the Roy Moore case.

And of course, there are guns. Always the guns.

HB 36 – the “Alabama Church Protection Act” by North Alabama’s Rep. Lynn Greer  — would let churches set up armed security programs. Not that there’s any prohibition on armed church guards now. Martin Luther King had to have plenty of them, if you recall.

And SB24, by Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa, would repeal altogether the requirement that people must have a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Because it’s the Wild West out there, and it really grinds his gears that anybody anywhere might be found unfit to conceal a deadly weapon.

Too bad they care more about pandering than they do about people. That’s what really grinds my gears.