The legislature had their every-four-year organizational session earlier this month. It is exactly what the title states, they are organizing for the next quadrennium of lawmaking. They officially chose their leadership and adopted the rules for the two chambers.
The 105 member House of Representatives and 35 member State Senate are elected for four-year terms the same as the governor and other constitutional offices. However, unlike the governor who was sworn in on Monday, January 16, which is as set out in the state constitution, the legislature takes office the day after they are elected in November.
The Alabama House of Representatives will have 77 Republicans and 28 Democrats. That is a veto proof, bulldozer shoving, anything you want supermajority. The Democrats have very little say with those overwhelming numbers.
Two days after they were elected in November the 77 member Republican majority met in a private caucus meeting in Montgomery and selected their leadership, so the vote for Speaker of the House two weeks ago was simply a formality. The House has chosen Representative Nathaniel Ledbetter to be the Speaker of the House. He hails from Rainsville in DeKalb County, where he was mayor. He has only been in the House of Representatives for eight years, having been first elected in 2014. He was chosen to be the majority leader in the House in his freshman year. He was close to the former Speaker McCutcheon and he served on both the powerful agenda setting Rules Committee, as well as the Ways and Means Education Budget Writing Committee.
Rep. Chris Pringle of Mobile has been chosen to be Speaker Pro Tem of the House, which is the second highest position within the body. He has served previously for 16 years in the House from the Port City.
There are two young stalwarts, who will be serving in Republican Party positions within the House. Rep. Scott Stadthagen of Decatur will be the new House Majority Leader. Rep. Wes Kitchens of Arab will serve as the Republican Leadership Caucus Vice Chair. Rep. Debbie Wood from Valley will serve as the Republican Caucus Secretary/Treasurer.
Rep. Danny Garrett of Trussville in Jefferson County will continue to Chair the Ways and Means Education Budget Committee. Rep. Rex Reynolds of Huntsville will be the General Fund Ways and Means Chairman. Rep. Joe Lovvorn of Auburn will be the new Rules Committee Chairman. Rep. Jim Hill of St. Clair will chair Judiciary. He is a former circuit Judge and a veteran of the House.
The Democrats have a veteran and sterling team heading their Caucus Leadership in the House. Rep. Anthony Daniels of Huntsville will be the Democratic Minority Leader. Rep. Barbara Drummond of Mobile will be the Caucus Chair. Rep. Mary Moore of Birmingham will be the Vice Chair and Rep. Kelvin Lawrence of Hayneville will be Secretary/Treasurer.
The 35 member Alabama State Senate returns almost intact with their continuity and quality leadership. They will dominate and provide a stable State of Ship to help lead the state. Republicans control this upper chamber to the same degree that the GOP members do in the House. Republicans outnumber Democrats 28 to 7 in the Senate.
State Sen. Jabo Waggoner of Jefferson County begins his 50th year in the legislature. This is a state record. He is definitely destined for the state history books. Jabo will continue to Chair the powerful Rules Committee.
Sen. Greg Reed of Walker County will be Pro Tem again. The Majority Leader will again be Clay Scofield of Marshall County. The two money committee chairmen will continue to be in charge of how the state revenues are spent. Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur will chair Finance and Taxation/Education. Sen. Greg Albritton of Escambia will chair Finance and Taxation/General Fund. These two men will be very powerful. Popular state Sen. Will Barfoot of Pike Road will chair Judiciary in the Senate. Sen. Clyde Chambliss of Prattville has become a stalwart leader in the Senate. He will be Majority Whip. Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth presides over the Senate.
The Regular Session begins in early March.
— Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the Alabama legislature.
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