Most recently the fallout over the Alabama Accountability Act has resulted in court challenges by both Democrats and Republicans, and now the minority party is waging a war of filibusters to slow down the legislative process. That tactic, and public pressure, are about all the Democrats have left in their attempt to return to some degree of relevance in Montgomery.
House Minority Leader Craig Ford of Gadsden issued a statement — almost an apology — explaining why this strategy was taken, even at the risk of failure to pass his own party’s bills.
It is not, he says, an effort to “get back at” Republicans. He argues that it’s an effort to ensure that no other bills are rushed through without a chance for the public to know what is in the bills. Or, as in the case of the Accountability Act, the legislators who voted on them.
The AEA’s Alabama School Journal published photos of every legislator that voted for the bill, and the group is also using advertising in other media to focus attention on them.
On one hand the bill looks like an attempt to use competitive forces to improve educational opportunities for K-12 students in Alabama. On the other, it looks like an attempt to further weaken struggling public schools.
That type of legislation is certain to be controversial, and the GOP leadership sidestepped open discussion of its contents by making extraordinary changes to the bill during the conference committee meeting. That’s where differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill were supposed to be ironed out. Instead, Republican members of the committee essentially added a different bill to the one being discussed, then quickly called for a vote.
It’s an interesting strategy. If we were watching a football game, it might even be fun to see someone pull off a trick play. But we’d prefer to see the legislative process carried out in the open.