Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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For anyone involved in the legislative process, with emphasis on the word process, (it must be remembered that it is called a process and not an event) these three words can have a profound impact on the quality of life enjoyed during a Legislative Session. During a Session, emotions can run from boredom to excitement to anticipation to joy to disappointment. Virtually all of these emotions, and more, were evident at the Alabama State House this past week.

Songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney said it very well when they wrote their iconic ballad Yesterday. The first verse captures the feelings of many who watched the Alabama Senate suffer a nuclear meltdown:

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday

The Senate was poised to move fairly quickly through a 25 Bill Special Order Calendar of House Bills, most of which were non-controversial. There was even a Bill dealing with the appointment authority for the Birmingham Water Board. This is a subject that, in years past, has been an extremely contentious subject. This year, however, all seemed to be resolved with the issue and it was assumed, even joked about as the Senate convened yesterday, that this issue would be a non-issue this year. As the Bill was called up for debate, Senator Slade Blackwell approached the Well of the Senate announcing he had a “friendly” amendment. Once Senator Rodger Smitherman discovered the nature of the proposed amendment the meltdown began and any further action in the Senate ended for the day. In an attempt to cool things down Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh made an adjournment motion hoping that when the Senate returns next week the personal nature of the debate will have disappeared. The only problem is that when the Senate returns the first order of business will be the “unfinished business” of the Birmingham Water Board. When the Senate started yesterday, “all my troubles seemed so far away” but when they adjourned “Now it looks like they are here to stay”. The flip side of the Senate was the House which after a seven hour debate on an $800 million Bond issue for prison construction adopted legislation that would fix the distribution of BP settlement money providing for debt repayment, highway construction and a $70 million boost to the ailing Medicaid budget. That legislation, HB 539, is sure to face a contentious debate in the Senate on Wednesday as Legislators from north Alabama oppose the distribution of the highway construction money.

It is believed that the origin of several catch phrases common in years gone by should be credited to a radical community-action group, The Diggers, operating out of the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco. Their publications, such as the Digger Papers, are the source of phrases such as “Do your own thing” and the iconic

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

If those who witnessed the events at the State House on Thursday are to have any hope that the rest of the Session will be any better, it has come to the point that it is time to forget about yesterday, spend today (and the upcoming weekend) reflecting on what has happened, take a deep breath and know that today is a new day with great opportunity waiting for those who look forward, rather than those who look over their shoulder. Every new day presents opportunities to find a way to work within the Legislative process, and, it is a process not an event.

The term, tomorrow, here has to be taken in a figurative sense that tomorrow really is Saturday and we are looking at Tuesday and Wednesday as our tomorrows. It must be remembered that “tomorrow” brings a new day and new opportunities. Hopefully tempers will have cooled in the Senate and business can return to normal, whatever that might be, as the Senate addresses over 75 House Bills still remaining to be debated. Many of these Bills are non-controversial and it is hoped that “tomorrow” the Senate will be able to work through as many of those Bills as is possible before the very controversial prison construction Bond issue Bill and BP settlement legislation make it to the Senate Floor on Wednesday. As we look forward, we should be reminded of the words of the precious little red-headed girl in the Broadway play, Annie, who in great voice reminded us that tomorrow is always “a day away”. With that said the question must be asked – Does tomorrow ever really arrive?

The sun’ll come out tomorrow
So you gotta hang on ‘til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow, tomorrow
I love you tomorrow
You’re always a day away

With that deep thought left hanging, we hope that you have a wonderful, relaxing and reflectful weekend.

The Alabama House will reconvene at 1:00pm on Tuesday, May 3, 2016
The Alabama Senate will reconvene at 1:00pm on Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The views and opinions contained in this report do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the clients of Public Strategies, LLC