Bills to follow during the 2015 Alabama Legislative Session

The 2015 Alabama Legislative Session kicks off it’s marathon session tomorrow in Montgomery. Tackling issues such as charter schools to consumer debt, Alabama legislators will have plenty to deal with.

Here are a few issues to keep an eye on as session prepares to start.

LIQUID


Death by electric chair – Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Not so much according to this bill. SB11 would bring back use of the state’s dormant electric chair. Under current state law, if one is sentenced to the death penalty, they may choose between lethal injection or the electric chair.

According to AL.com, an inmate sentenced to death row hasn’t been executed since 2013 because the state does not have the drugs available.

SB11 would alter that provision. Inmates may still choose their way of death, but if lethal injection is unavailable, the state would put them to death with the electric chair.

Priorities for Republicans, I guess.

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Rep. Jimmie T. Smith: “Stand your ground is core to the American way of life.”

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Photo courtesy of http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Rep. Jimmie T. Smith

Last week, the Dream Defenders and a number of Floridians against the state’s self-defense law commonly known as “stand your ground” fled to Tallahassee to fight for repealing SYG or at least changing it.

A House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice voted against repealing or changing the law all together, opting instead to expand the scope of it.

Once the hearing was over, Florida Representative Jimmie T. Smith talked about why the law was so important and why it’s still needed.

“Stand your ground is core to the American way of life.”

For Smith, and those who believe in SYG, his comments encapsulate an antiquated political way of thinking.

What exactly is the American way of life and where is the core? Let’s try this on as an example.

On November 1st, many Floridians who rely on food stamps were impacted by a cut to the program aimed at reigning in America’s spiraling debt. The cut will impact over one million children and about 700,000 elderly and disabled.

To combat an economic problem in America, many politicians in Washington D.C., Democrats and Republicans, decided to cut a food program that serves the poor, the elderly, and America’s children. Doesn’t that sound backwards?

So for many who are against SYG and saw the case of George Zimmerman as one reason why the law needs adjusting, hearing Smith make such a statement may sound callous.

Since 2005, justifiable homicides are up by 200 percent in Florida and due to the convoluted language included in SYG, the Sanford police department decided against arresting Zimmerman and it altered the jury instructions when Zimmerman went to trial.

Coupling the two, doubling down on cuts to social programs to reign in debt when America’s economy is still bad for many, and expanding, at least on the surface, a law that has aided in the increase of justifiable homicides seems backwards.

Is that what Smith means when he references America’s core? A law that only furthers America’s gun culture or the idea that Americans have the right to self-defense?

At time of publish, Rep. Smith had not responded to my request for clarification on his statements.

For me, his comments seem outdated; almost a representation of why the Republican Party is dying a slow and painful death. It’s a failure to embrace change or progress, just like those who believe that cutting food stamps for the poor punishes those who abuse the system or will save America’s dying economy.

Is this the core that we are protecting?

-JH

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