Senate Democrats unveil 2005 Agenda

MONTGOMERY, Ala.(AP)_ The Senate Democratic Caucus unveiled a lengthy agenda on the opening day of the Legislature's regular session. It includes a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in Alabama. The Senate Democratic Caucus is the fourth legislative caucus to call for a constitutional amendment. The House Democratic Caucus and the House and Senate Republican caucuses did it earlier.

Constitutional amendments have to be approved by Alabama voters, and there is disagreement about when to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. The Democratic caucuses want it at the primary election in 2006 or at an earlier special election, if one is scheduled. Democrats say the sooner the better. The Republican caucuses want it at the general election in 2006. They say it should be on the general election because that election always has the biggest turnout. That's also the election when all 140 seats in the Legislature on the ballot.

The agenda unveiled today by the Senate Democratic Caucus also includes a constitutional amendment to remove segregation-era language from Alabama's constitution, a bill to strengthen Alabama's open meetings law, and legislation to require groups to disclose their sources of money when they run ads to support or defeat legislation.

Other bills on the Senate Democratic Caucus' agenda include public disclosure of all no-bid contracts, banning pass-through pork projects, and providing a state income tax break for Alabama Guard and Reserve members serving overseas.

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