Thursday, June 12, 2014

Alabama State Rep. Kurt Wallace's political swan song sends registered citizens into exile

 For years, I have been battling Alabama State Rep. Kurt "The Segregationist" Wallace over a bid to pass a statewide anti-clustering bill. While ReFORM-AL was mounting opposition for a statewide anti-clustering bill, professed "Christian Conservative" State Rep. Kurt Wallace pulled out the politician playbook and called a trick play.

This is how they built typically passes to the Alabama Legislature. A bill is introduced and assigned to a committee. There is generally time allotted for the public to become aware of a pending bill. Before a bill passes committee, the public has a right to request a public hearing on the bill at hand. It is a narrow window, but an individual generally has at least a couple of weeks or so to catch a bill as it pops up before committee.

With HB 556, and anti-clustering bill just for Chilton County, the public was literally given a single day’s notice. On Thursday, February 27, 2014, HB 556 was introduced and read for the first time before the house legislature, and was assigned to the “LL” (local legislation) committee. By Tuesday, March 4, the bill had been read a second time and placed on the calendar, and the next day, it had been read a third time and put to a vote. Only 38 representatives voted, all of them “yea,” of course, and 47 representatives were not even present to vote on March 5.

In short, the public was never truly given adequate notice. ReFORM-AL  had been checking the Alabama state legislature (“ALISON”) website every Friday during the legislative season, and not a single notice of HB 556 was seen. A bill was literally introduced and passed through the house in five business days, but that a single notice given to those who were to be impacted by these laws.

Keep in mind at this point, once a bill goes before the full legislature outside of committee, the public cannot request a public hearing. The best hope is to attempt to stop the bill by convincing legislators outside of committee to vote against the bill. To be honest, how many people do you think actually read, debated, or consider the negative consequences of this bill?

Could we have stopped the bill in the Senate? Since no one was even aware of HB 556, no one realized that the very next day, the bill was read for the first time in the Senate. The following Thursday, March 13, the bill was read a second time, and on Tuesday, March 18, the bill was read a third and final time and was put to a vote. This time, 21 people voted yea, and three people voted to abstain from voting. It was “enrolled” and sent for the governor to sign.

In total, 18 days had passed between the time the bill was first read in the time the bill was sent to the governor's office, or rather, 12 business days. That is superfast by Alabama Legislature standards.

State Rep. Kurt Wallace has been pushing his segregationist policy for years, all just to shut down a transitional housing program in his home County. This time, he got what he wanted. ReFORM-AL has already received a number of phone calls from individuals negatively impacted by this countywide ordinance. It is amazing how Wallace and his stooge CJ Robinson pushed for this idiotic legislation while admitting that residency restriction laws were the cause of the problem in the first place, testifying that these laws lead people to take advantage of registered citizens.

It seems the “good old boy” network is alive in rural Alabama. I'm sure Jesus is just ecstatic that Wallace has made people homeless in his name. On the upside, Wallace just lost his bid for re-election, so at least this fight has become his political swan song.

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