Sen. Hank Sanders

Number 1510 - May 18, 2016







           Sometimes things just seem to be working out, but there is an old saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”  That thought repeated itself in my mind over and over again.  I was so thankful because I knew the way things were working was much bigger than me.  It was even bigger than all those who helped in so many ways.  Sometimes things just seem to be working out, but I know not to count our chickens before they hatch.

            In late September 2015, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) announced that 31 driver license offices would be closed.  As a result, citizens in twenty eight counties would have to travel to other counties to secure driver’s licenses.  In the Alabama Black Belt, 11 of 13 counties did not have a driver license office.   Because driver licenses are the number one document for driving, voting, travel by plane, business transactions, etc., outrage was strong.  The matter was even picked up by MSNBC and other national news organizations.

            In October, the Alabama Beverage Control Board (ABC) announced that it had kept certain state owned liquor stores open even though they were losing money.  When the media asked why, its leader stated, “We don’t want citizens to have to travel to the next county to get a bottle.”  The simmering outrage exploded.  The Bentley Administration wanted people to travel to other counties to secure driver’s licenses but not to buy liquor.  To dampen the outrage, the Governor announced that each of the 28 counties would have a driver’s license office opened one day a month.  Some people settled for this token but others persisted in outrage.

             I helped lead a caravan through 12 counties over two days.  Black and White leaders and citizens came forth in each county.  The events were well covered by the media, but things did not change.  We then held an event on the State Capitol steps dramatizing Alabama’s priority of booze over voting with the chant, “Give us the vote, not just the bottle.”  I wrote and spoke about the matter on various occasions.  I also learned that the U. S. Department of Transportation had commenced an investigation.

            When the 2016 Regular Session commenced, I introduced a bill (Senate Bill 172) to require ALEA to operate driver’s license offices in every county at least two days a week.  I did not expect the bill to go anywhere.   It came up in the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee agenda without my request.  I did not expect it to pass.  It passed by a vote of 13-0.  I did not expect it to be considered by the full Senate.  It came up without my request.  It passed by a vote of 27 to 3.  Sometimes things just seem to be working out.

            After SB 172 it had been in the Alabama House for weeks, I contacted Representative John Knight.  I asked him to advise more on which representative would be best to handle the bill into the House.  He advised me that Representative Artis McCampbell would handle it.  A lot of his counties were also hurt by the closings.

Then I opposed a Greene County gambling bill in the Senate.  Representative McCampbell was the sponsor in the House.  I wondered whether this would affect Representative McCampbell.  It did not.  The issue was bigger than us.  He got SB172 out of the House State Government Committee on a unanimous vote with an amendment to which I had agreed to reduce the two day minimum to a minimum of one day a week.  But the bill did not move in the House.  I almost gave up.

It was the last day of the legislative session.  The session would end at 12 midnight.   It was after 11:00 p.m.   I really gave up.  At 11:50, I received a text from Representative John Knight that SB 172 passed the House at 11:47 p.m.  I expected it to come back to the Senate for concurrence with the amendment that reduced the two days a week to one day a week.  The Senate President Pro Tem told me it could not be done.  I gave up again.

The next day, I asked Sharon Calhoun, my Senate assistant, to check on the status of SB 172.  She said it was sent to the Governor at 11:50 the night before.  I checked the record and discovered that Representative McCampbell had tabled the Amendment because the bill passed late on the last night.  Therefore, the bill passed with a two day requirement.  My hopes rose again.   Sometimes things just seem to be working out.

We had come so far but it was still not over.  The Governor could veto the bill without any opportunity for us to override because the legislative session had ended.  Representative Knight, Representative McCampbell and I moved to prevent the Governor from vetoing the bill.  We agreed to work together in the next special session to reduce the two day minimum requirement to one day.  Things just seem to be working out.

The Governor had ten days after the session ended to sign the bill into law or let it die by pocket veto.  Late in the afternoon on Friday, I received a call from Jared White of the Governor’s staff.  He said that the Governor decided to pocket veto the bill.  I expressed my strong disappointment.  The bill was dead for this session.  Sometimes things seem to be working out, but we cannot count our chickens until they hatch.

Now on to the Daily Diary.

Saturday, May 7, 2016 - I walked, handled many matters and worked deep into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following; Sam Walker of Selma; Businessman “T Bone” of Georgia; Wallace Community College Selma (WCCS) President Dr. James Mitchell; and Ebony Gaines of Montgomery on her birthday.

Sunday – I did Radio Sunday School with Minister Malika Sanders Fortier and Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard, III and read a Mothers’ Day Sketches on the 50,000 watt Z105.3 Radio Station.  I went to a Mothers’ Day Dinner and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following:  Faya Rose Toure of Selma; Dr. Carol P. Zippert of Greene County; Barbara Pitts of Auburn; Dr. Roberta Watts of Gadsden; Carolyn Gaines-Varner, Zakiya Varner, Emily Diggs, Khadijah Ishaq and Brenda Miles of Selma;  and Carolyn Wheeler of Signal Mountain, TN.

Monday – I walked, read Sketches on Faya’s Fire, attended the Industrial Park Fiber Ready Program at Pioneer Electric Cooperative in Sardis, returned to Selma, traveled to Clarke County, returned to Selma, traveled to Greene County, returned to Selma and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following: Georgia Blackmon of Pensacola, FL; Fred McCallum of AT&T Alabama; Terry Mosley and Cleve Poole of Pioneer Electric Cooperative; Selma Mayor George Evans; Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard; Representative Darrio Melton; Wayne Vardaman of the Selma Centre of Commerce; Aubrey Carter of Alabama Power Company; Franklin Fortier of Selma; former State Senator Marc Keahey; Bobby Keahey of Clarke County; Greene County commissioners Lester Brown, Tennyson Smith and Allen Turner, Jr; Businesswoman Sharon Wheeler of Montgomery; Gloria Pompey and Josephine Curtis of Selma; and Alecha Irby of Miles College.

Tuesday – I exercised, read Sketches on Faya’s Fire, handled many matters, participated in a Board meeting of the Selma Center for Non-Violence and worked well into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following:  Ron Jones of the Examiners of Public Accountants; Ola Morrow of Maplesville; Veronica Williams, Vivian Rogers, Ainka Jackson and Amadi Sanders of Selma; Youlanda Curtis of Washington County; Don Baylor of Jefferson County; Greene County School Superintendent Dr. James Carter; Jared White of the Governor’s Office; Representative Thad McClammy; John Sanders of Rochester, NY; and Dallas County District Judge Bob Armstrong.

Wednesday –I exercised, handled various matters, did Radio Law Lessons with Malika Fortier, sponsored a second Mothers’ Day Dinner and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following:  Felecia Pettway of Wilcox County; Sherrie Mitchell, Sandra McCants and Dr. Margaret Hardy of Selma; Gus Townes and Freddie Williams of Montgomery; Alisa Summerville of Birmingham; Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd; and Sharon Calhoun of Montgomery.

Thursday – I walked, read Sketches on Faya’s Fire, handled a slew of matters, participated in a SOS conference call and worked deep into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following:  Askhari Little of Spelman College; Tom Coker of Lowndes County; James Sanders of Baldwin County; Montgomery Businessman Frank Jenkins; Charles Sanders of Bibb County; and Senator Vivian Davis Figures.

Friday – I walked, handled various matters, received a call from the Governor’s Office that they had killed SB 172, attended a graduation at WCCS and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following: Lowndes County Administrator Jackie Thomas; Joe Fine of Montgomery; Dan Tompkins of Selma; Minyon Moore of Washington, D.C.; Coumba Toure Ba of Senegal West Africa; Leonard Dunston of North Carolina; Birmingham Retired businessman Julian Smith; Jared White of the Governor’s Office; Ben Harris III of Miami, FL; and Representative John Knight.
            EPILOGUE – What is the difference between luck and blessings?  I believe luck is random.  I believe blessings are part of a larger plan.  I believe in blessings even when they appear to be bad luck.