This year, Republicans are in charge. There was a Republican governor and the Grand Old Party had a supermajority in both houses. Alabamians were promised that that things would be different if the Republican Party gained this control.
Everyone waited for things to be different.
At the start of the 2012 session, the Republicans announced their priorities, and at the top of the list were (1.) job creation, (2.) charter schools, and (3.) adjusting the immigration bill to make it “better.”
Then the Legislature met — and the wheels came off the wagon.
Gov. Robert Bentley’s “Job Creation and Retention Act,” which would have given businesses a tax break at the expense of the Education Trust Fund, died an inglorious death. The GOP had no Plan B.
The charter-school legislation went through a number of changes before it emerged as one of the worst pieces of legislation written during this session — perhaps in any session. If you wanted to write a bill that could never pass, this is the example to follow. Many thought it should have been given the “Shroud Award” — awarded annually to the bill that is deemed dead on arrival — because that’s exactly what it was.
As for HB56, the state’s controversial and harsh illegal-immigration law, the amended bill the Legislature produced was so bad that Bentley refused to sign it or veto it. Instead, he told legislators that when they meet in special session to redistrict the state, they also should revisit HB56 and modify it even more.
So the GOP, like Democrats of old, came in with the manpower to get things done. Promises had been made and priorities had been set. Then the squabbling began. Soon, parochial interests took over. And when the session ended, little, if any, significant legislation was passed.
Alabamians are still waiting for things to be different.