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Disappointed: Democrat Barbara Boyd looks back on state legislative session

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As the legislative session draws to a close, Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston, said she is unhappy with the work the Legislature has done this session.

“This session, I have really been disappointed in the issues we have addressed,” she said, adding that the Legislature focused primarily on educators, schools and public officials.

As a Democrat, Boyd is a member of the minority party in the House of Representatives. She is also the area’s only Democratic lawmaker. With the legislative session ending Monday, Boyd has seen some victories with local legislation, but said she is disappointed with how this session has gone. In Boyd’s view, legislators have been moving in the wrong direction.

Boyd said that she thinks the Legislature’s focus on increasing the penalties for misdemeanors in the state is misguided.

“Our prisons are overcrowded and [legislators] continue to make some acts felonies,” she said. “Mind you, some of them should be felonies.”

With the end of this year’s legislative session in sight, Boyd believes some of the bills passed this year — including those that challenge federal authority on voting rights and other issues — won’t withstand a legal challenge.

“I think a lot of the bills we have passed this year may not stand up in court,” she said. “I think there may be some unforeseen consequences.”

Boyd has seen some success this session. She supported an effort to allow the Anniston City Council to approve alcohol sales on Sundays within city limits. The bill sailed through the Senate but had a harder fight in the House, where Boyd was its chief advocate. The bill that finally passed the House, however, wasn’t her house bill but a nearly identical one by Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston.

Boyd still has one bill in the Senate that could see final-day action — a measure to change the distribution of county gas tax to give the Calhoun County more money and local cities less. The bill would adopt a formula already in place in most Alabama counties.

“There’s one or two local bills that I hope to see come out for Calhoun County,” she said.

Boyd said that her priority this session has been local legislation. She added that, as a member of the minority party, she thought she would have the most success with local bills.

Marleah Blades, a Jacksonville voter, said she was unfamiliar with much of Boyd’s work this session. However, Blades was aware of the Anniston Ecotourism Beverage Bill, citing Heroes American Grille’s Facebook page as her source for information concerning the bill. The restaurant has been posting coverage of the Anniston bill and a similar one concerning Weaver.

“I’d be all for it,” Blades said. “I am strongly supportive,” she added, pounding her fist on the table.

Jack Patel has mixed feelings on the Sunday alcohol sales measure. Patel is the manager of the Grub Mart in Oxford, just the other side of the Anniston city limit. He said he is not sure if he would like to see Sunday alcohol sales extend into Oxford.

“It’s good for business, but I don’t know for people,” Patel said.

He added that he thought one day per week should be reserved for families and children, not alcohol.

As a retired educator, Boyd thinks that this year’s legislation has negatively affected the state’s educational system.

“Education is my passion and I’m beginning to see some changes in education that are far from some of those people who worked so hard for everyone to have a public education,” she said. “I realize that we must change, but we must be fair.”