A bill giving Alabama teachers $300 for school supplies is one step closer to becoming law. The Senate passed the bill on Thursday, but not after a vigorous debate over Senate rules.
Senate Republicans hoped to push the teacher supply bill through on Tuesday before the body had to consider what's known as sunset bills, because of a clause in the state's constitution.
And Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat from Greensboro wanted to make sure the Senate took its time considering all of the two dozen or so bills.
"This is not an attempt to filibuster, not an attempt to railroad any particular thing," Sen. Singleton said. "This is just a learning process."
By Thursday Afternoon, the Senate's Republican leadership had enough of Singleton's speeches. They used senate rules to put the Sunset bills on hold and pass the school supply bill. Democrats were outraged they didn't get a chance for a vote on their amendment to give teachers $1,000 for supplies, instead of $300.
Republicans said Democrats had a chance to call for a vote on the amendment on Tuesday, but stalled until the "Sunset Bill" deadline. They also said while the State can afford $300 for each teacher, it can't afford $1,000.
"It was something that could be afforded, but the Republican supermajority ran over the Democrats," said Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, and the Senate Minority Leader. "They broke the rules."
While Democrats cried foul about the Republican's maneuvers, Republicans said they worked within the rules to get the legislation passed.
"What we're saying is we have the agenda, we have the majority," said Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and the Senate President Pro Tem. "We'd rather move the agenda with the minority working together. And I think at the end of the day, when you look at the votes, they supported this legislation."
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Reed of Birmingham, would send the funding to each school system to distribute to teachers. It would cost the state $12 million a year.
The Senate also moved through bills adding criminal surveillance statutes and changing liability requirements for certain contractors. Both chambers are back in session on Wednesday.
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