Some House Democrats Skip Session Return

Lawmakers returned to the State House Monday for the shortened session. And there there were some empty seats.
Members of the Alabama Democratic Caucus say they’re choosing to focus on the needs and challenges of their own districts instead of returning to the legislature.

Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels says the Alabama Democratic Caucus has more questions than answers, which is keeping some of its’ members away as the session resumes.

“You can not make an informed decision about a budget or crafting a budget if can’t understand or get a hold of how this pandemic has impacted your sales tax receipt and income,” Daniels said.

Lawmakers are returning to discuss two important budgets: the Education Trust Fund Budget and the General Fund Budget. Daniels says he believes the legislators should not rush to form and pass budgets.

He says more information is needed about the impact the coronavirus is having on smalls businesses, as well as the needs of the Alabama education system. The system is funded by the Education Trust Fund.

“There are about four hundred thousand people that have filed for unemployment, so income tax receipts are going to be impacted. Spending in retail and other things are going to be impacted,” Daniels said.

Daniels says the updated safer-at-home order also played a roll in keeping house Democrats away. He says reconvening could put the legislature in jeopardy of violating those safer at home guidelines…

Political Analyst Steve Flowers agrees it’s going to be difficult for legislators to determine how much money they’re going to have for the two budgets as a result of the pandemic. But he says he believes it would be in the best interest of democratic house members to show up.

“I think that the democrats are in such a minority in the legislature, that they can pass the budgets without their presence. So it really accrues to the disadvantage of democrats if they don’t try to show up in some way. You wanna have a part at the table, even if you are a minority part of the budgets,” Flowers said.

Daniels says he’d rather wait until a special called session before moving forward.

House democrats are planning to hold virtual public hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the impact of covid-19 and the state’s budgets and economy.

Members of the public can watch the virtual hearings here.

The members will hear from policy experts, mayors, and the heads of the state education system and nursing home association. The sessions will begin at 10 A.M and run through 1 P.M.

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