The legislature had their every four year organizational session in January. 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, Jan. 16, which is as set out in the state constitution, the legislature takes office the day after they are elected in November.
The state 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. Therefore, 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. Ledbetter hails from Rainsville in DeKalb County. He is a former mayor of Rainsville. 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.
Representative 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. He succeeds fellow Mobilian Victor Gaston in this post.
There are two young stalwarts, who will be serving in Republican party positions within the House. Representative Scott Stadthagen of Decatur will be the new House majority leader. Representative Wes Kitchens of Arab will serve as the Republican leadership caucus vice chair. Representative Debbie Wood from the Valley will serve as the Republican caucus secretary/treasurer. The three most powerful posts in the House are the chairmanships of the two money committees and the agenda setting Rules Committee.
Representative Danny Garrett of Trussville in Jefferson County will continue to chair the Ways and Means Education Budget Committee. Representative Rex Reynolds of Huntsville will be the General Fund Ways and Means chairman. Reynolds replaces longtime Ways and Means Chairman Steve Clouse of Ozark. Representative Joe Lovvorn of Auburn will be the new Rules Committee chairman. Representative Jim Hill of St. Clair will chair judiciary. He is a former circuit judge and a veteran of the House. All of these House leadership positions are held by Republicans. To the victor goes the spoils.
The Democrats have a veteran and sterling team heading their caucus leadership in the House. Anthony Daniels of Huntsville will be the Democratic minority leader. Barbara Drummond of Mobile will be the caucus chair. Mary Moore of Birmingham will be the vice chair, and Kelvin Lawrence of Hayneville will be secretary/treasurer of the Democratic caucus.
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 seven in the Senate.
State Senator 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. Waggoner will continue to chair the powerful Rules Committee.
Greg Reed of Walker County will be pro tem of the Senate 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. Senator Arthur Orr of Decatur will chair finance and taxation/education. Senator Greg Albritton of Escambia will chair finance and taxation/general fund. These two men will be very powerful. Popular State Senator Will Barfoot of Pike Road will chair judiciary in the Senate. Senator 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 state legislature and may be reached at steveflowers.us.
See complete story in the Journal Record.