Sen. Hank Sanders

Number 1563 - May 23, 2017



       

         

        

            Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun.  Senator Bobby Singleton proclaims this phrase with gusto.  He is making the point that the hunter usually has the gun hunting the rabbit, but on rare occasions the rabbit gets the gun and hunts the hunter.  Ain’t no fun for the hunter when the rabbit got the gun.

            Sheer power usually determines who has the gun.  On occasions, circumstances determine who has the gun.  In the Alabama Legislature the majority nearly always has the gun.  Republicans have super majorities in both the Alabama House and Senate.  Therefore, they have the gun virtually all the time.  But every now and then circumstances allow the rabbit to get the gun.  Ain’t no fun for the hunter when the rabbit got the gun.

            The Alabama Legislature has rules that determine how each body operates.  Some of these provisions are imbedded the 1901 Alabama Constitution and must be followed unless waived unanimously by of all members of that body of the Legislature.  During most of the legislative session, we have time to follow all these provisions.  However, we usually waive many of these provisions so the legislative process can speed along.  One of these constitutional provisions requires that bills be read out loud in their entirety.  In fact, it states that each bill must be read three times.  However, that provision has been corrupted by the courts to require a full reading only on third readings before final passage in each body.  Reading titles of every bill in committee reports and messages consumes time thereby giving the gun to the rabbit.  Reading every bill at length requires lots of time thereby giving the gun to the rabbit.  Filibustering every bill takes lots of time thereby giving the gun to the rabbit.  In the Senate, having a full roll call on every vote gives the gun to the rabbit.  Ain’t no fun for the hunter when the rabbit got the gun.

            We were in the last four days of this legislative Session.  The goal of legislative leader was to pass every important piece of legislation in these four days.  However, in order to accomplish this goal, the cooperation of every Senator was necessary.  Otherwise, every bill would be read at length, every vote would be by a long roll call, every bill would be filibustered, every title to bills in committee reports and messages will be read, etc.  Ain’t no fun for the hunter when the rabbit got the gun.

            We started out reading the title to every bill for committee reports and messages, calling the long roll on every vote, debating every bill and reading every bill out loud before final passage.  The Senate process ground to a slow crawl.  Eventually some kind of agreement was worked out.  However, there were two bills in which I engaged in extended debate.  One bill would reduce the appeal rights for those sentenced to death.  It was entitled the Fair Justice Act.  The other was the Confederate Memorial Bill entitled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.  The Fair Justice Act is neither fair not just.  It is a law that diminishes human life rather than enhances human life.  The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act claims to be about preserving history.  However, it is really about preserving monuments to those that fought doggedly to preserve slavery.  Ain’t no fun for the hunter when the rabbit got the gun.

            When we really slow down the process, we sometimes hurt ourselves.  I had a local bill for Wilcox County that failed in part because of the slowdown.  It also failed because the Senate Local Legislation Committee Chair held up the bill until the last day.  Other local bills also died because committee reports were not received and acted upon in time.  Sometimes the rabbit gets shot even when he/she got the gun.  Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun.

            One bill escaped the squeeze of circumstances forged by the rabbit hunting and the hunter.  It was the Autism bill.  I really wanted to vote for this bill but had to leave the Senate to handle certain critical matters in Lowndes County.  It likely would have come to the Senate floor for consideration earlier if the rabbit was not hunting the hunter.  I hate I missed the vote because this bill truly enhances life.  Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun.

            As part of the rabbit with the gun strategy, two bills on redistricting were read at length before passage.  One in the Senate required about 14 hours.  The other in the House required about 16 hours.  These tactics bogged down the proceedings of both legislative bodies.  Ain’t no fun for the hunter when the rabbit got the gun.

            The rabbit-hunter struggles not only had elements of Republicans versus Democrats but elements of White versus Black.  The elements were compounded by an email sent by a House Member setting forth a strategy for oppressing monkeys.  Legislators and others took the monkey designation to mean African Americans.  African American legislators became even more upset and even more determined.  Ain’t no fun for the hunter when the rabbit got the gun.

            So many other scenarios played out.  Some helped the citizens of Alabama and some hurt.  There are causalities when the hunter got the gun.  There are causalities when the rabbit got the gun.  Ain’t no fun for the hunter when the rabbit got the gun.

            Now on to the Daily Diary:

            Saturday, May 12, 2017 – I handled various matters, traveled to Lowndes County for the funeral of Uralee Haynes, returned to Selma to handle additional matters, attended a dinner for mothers of persons recently killed in Selma, traveled to Talladega for the 50th Anniversary Banquet for my College Graduation Class and returned to Selma.  Among other, I communicated with the following: Lowndes County Commissioner Carnell McAlpine; Lowndes County School Board members Robert Grant and Ben Davis; Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd; Former Lowndes County School Superintendent Eli Seaborn and wife Delores Seaborn; retired educator Leola Bell of Mosses; Talladega College President Dr. Billy Hawkins; Marsha Thomas Wooding of Birmingham; and a number of my 1967 Talladega College Classmates.

            Sunday – This was Mother’s Day, but I did Radio Sunday School with Dr. Margaret Hardy and Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard, III.  I handled various matters, visited the hospital, took Faya Rose Toure to a special Mother’s Day dinner, attended a Mother’s Day event for Mothers of my immediate family, called a number of mothers and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following: Dr. Roberta Watts of Gadsden; Barbara Pitts of Auburn; Dr. Carol P. Zippert of Greene County; Dr. Rhoda Johnson of Tuscaloosa; Karen Jackson, Ainka Jackson, Malika Fortier, Amada Sanders, Franklin Fortier, and Mae Richmond of Selma; and Askhari Little of Spelman College on her 20th birthday.

            Monday – I handled many matters, traveled to Lowndes County, then on to Montgomery for a doctor’s visit.  While in Montgomery, I shared a belated Mother’s Day dinner with Carolyn Wheeler of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, returned to Selma and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following: Senator Vivian Davis Figures for Mother’s Day; Montgomery businessman Frank Jenkins; Dorothy Hulett, Geraldine Ingram and Kim West of Lowndes County; Lowndes County Administrator Jackie Thomas; Sherrie Mitchell and K.C. Bailey of Selma; Greene County School Superintendent Dr. James Carter; Ron Brown of Birmingham; and Sharon Calhoun, Melodie Ellis and Sharon Wheeler of Montgomery.

            Tuesday – I handled many matters, traveled to Montgomery for a Senate Session and a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting then traveled to Lowndes County and back to Selma.  Among others, I communicated with the following: David Stout of Alabama Arise; Representative John Knight; Representative Kelvin Lawrence; Representative A.J. McCampbell; Representative Thad McClammy; Dickey Whitaker of the Medical Association of Alabama; Tom Coker of Lowndes County; Montgomery Advertiser Reporter Kym Klass concerning the death of Dr. Gwen Patton; Jared White of the Governor’s Office; Senator Gerald Dial; John Teague, Martin Christie and John Hagood of Montgomery; Lowndes County Commission members Dickson Farrior, Joey Barganier, Joshua Simmons, and Robert Harris; Lowndes County School Board members Steve Foster, Donald Carter and Travis Rogers; Yvette Patterson of Lowndes County; Samita Jeter of the Lowndes County Head Start Program; and Butler County Commissioner Jesse McMillian.

            Wednesday – I traveled to Montgomery for a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting and a Senate Session where we worked late into the night.  I arrived back in Selma after midnight.  Among others, I communicated with the following: Kristen Barnes and Holly Caraway of the Senate Minority Leader Office; Senators Bobby Singleton, Rodger Smitherman, Pricilla Dunn, Quinton Ross, Linda Coleman-Madison and Billy Beasley; Alvin Harris of Dallas County; Sharon Calhoun of Montgomery whose son was in an accident; Gloria Pompey, Mercedes Scott and Tearra Wright of Selma; Youlanda Curtis of Washington County; and Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan of Tuscaloosa.

            Thursday – I was up by 5:00 a.m. and back in Montgomery before 7:00 a.m..  I participated in two extended debates (filibusters) and the SOS conference call, handled many matters, attended a celebratory reception for recently deceased Dr. Gwen Patton, returned to Selma and worked into night.  Among others, I communicated with the following: former Senator Zeb Little; Senate President Del Marsh; Peggy Washington of Selma; Annie Mae Sanders of Mobile concerning the sickness of our last living aunt; William Sanders of Ohio; Senator Cam Ward; Senator Jimmy Holley; Former Eutaw Mayor Hattie Edwards; Representative Chris England; Paula Bird of Greene County; and Cherie Welch of Atlanta.

            Friday – I handled various matters, traveled to Montgomery for a long final day Senate Session and various other meetings and returned to Selma.  Among others, I communicated with the following: Senator Arthur Orr; Joe Fine of Montgomery; Shelley Fearson of Alabama New South Coalition; Post Secondary Chancellor Dr. Jimmy Baker; Senator Jim McClendon; and Senator Trip Pittman.

            Epilogue – Circumstances can be so powerful.  They can take the up down.  They can take the down up.  They can make the powerful powerless.  They can make the powerless powerful.  Circumstances can be so powerful.