Alabama Legislature gaveled into session

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Legislature has begun its 2009 regular session.

It started at noon Tuesday when Speaker Seth Hammett gaveled the House into session. Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. called the Senate to order a few minutes later.

The Legislature will be in session for the next three and a half months. Key business will be to pass budgets to fund education and other state services like state troopers, prisons and Medicaid.

Lawmakers expect to have to make major cuts in both spending plans because tax revenues are down due to the recession.

Other major issues facing lawmakers include proposals to expand and tax gambling, ethics reform, and legislation to remove the state's four percent sales tax on groceries.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)