Constitutional Reform - Legislative Operations / Procedures

LWVAL Action Priority Level I (Highest) - Monitoring and action of highest priority. Major area for resource expenditures.

Click a bill to see sponsor(s), summary (including link to full text), League action and justification for that action, and progress of the bill through the legislative process.

thumbs_up_icon.jpg = LWVAL's support for the legislation.
thumbs_down_icon.jpg = LWVAL's opposition to the legislation.
green-right-arrow.jpg = new bill activity; change from previous week's report such as new progress in the legislature and/or League action. Bill may be one newly added to the report. These updates are in green font.

LWVAL has taken a position on these bills:
[none at this time]
LWVAL is monitoring these bills:

SB12 - Elected state officials, Legislature authorized to recall by general law, const. amend.

Sponsor(s): Senator Bedford

Summary/Synopsis: Constitutional Amendment to authorize the Legislature to provide by general law for the recall of elected state officials. It provides authority for the Legislature to construct a procedure and criteria for citizens to recall their elected officials. As general law, it will add no new statutory provisions to the 1901 Constitution and may be amended without additional amendments to the Constitution.

Requirements for the general law specify:
  1. Citizens in any judicial or legislative district may petition for recall after the official has been in office one year.
  2. If within 90 days the petition contains signatures of 25% of voters in the last election for that office, the Sec. of State will set a special election for the 6th Tuesday after the determination.
  3. Other candidates may file for the office in usual manner for special elections. There will be no primaries.
  4. The incumbent or other candidate receiving the highest number of votes is elected for the remainder of the term.
  5. The recall process can be used only once in that official’s term.
  6. Grounds for initiating a recall petition shall include any of the following during an incumbent's term of office: malfeasance or nonfeasance; lack of physical or mental fitness; incompetence; violation of an oath of office.

League Action and Justification: LWVAL is monitoring SB12.
LWVAL cannot support or oppose, since it has never studied and adopted a position on recall, but League will follow the legislation in order to keep the membership informed.

Bill Progress in Legislature: 02/05/2013 – First reading and referred to

SB19 - Term limits, members of Senate and House of Representatives limited to three consecutive full terms, const. amend.

Sponsor(s): Senator Pittman

Summary/Synopsis: Constitutional Amendment that would provide that no person may be elected to either house of the Legislature for more than three full consecutive terms. The amendment would provide that an election to either the Senate or the House of Representatives for at least two years would be equivalent to the election for a full term in that respective body. The amendment would provide that service in the Senate or House of Representatives prior to November 2014 would not disqualify, in whole or in part, a person from service in that respective body following that date.
League Action and Justification: LWVAL is monitoring SB19.
Since LWVAL has no position on term limits, it will not support or oppose the legislation but will keep the membership informed of its status.

Bill Progress in the Legislature:
– First Reading and referred to the

02/07/2013: 2nd Reading and placed on the calendar; pending 3rd reading and favorable from CCFE&E.

05/07/2013: Indefinitely postponed.

Note: Term limits might periodically ensure members with fresh perspectives and might prevent one or more cliques of longtime members from acquiring power to dominate decision-making. They might also limit the influence of special interest groups that cultivate long-standing alliances with members. Negative consequences of term limits are likely reduction in the collective knowledge and experience needed to make good legislative decisions, understand legislative operations and procedures, and greater reliance on staff decision-making.

In Alabama the resources available to all legislators are limited to the Legislative Fiscal Office and the Legislative Reference Service, which writes bills but does not provide the information for policy decisions that most legislators requested in response to a 2005 League survey. Since then, the Alabama Law Institute has gradually increased the staff provided to Legislative Committees. For more information on the pros and cons of term limits, see The National Conference of State Legislature (

HB130 - Term limits, members of Senate and House of Representatives limited to three consecutive full terms, const. amend.

Sponsor(s): Representatives Rich, Baugh, Johnson (W), and Roberts.

Summary/Synopsis: Constitutional amendment. A term limit amendment, HB 130 includes the three-term limit proposed in SB12, but adds provisions to clarify that the limit is three terms in either the House or Senate or both. A two-year term either body will count as a full term for these purposes. The former member may be elected again after the expiration of a legislative quadrennium given the following conditions: The former member must not have served in any capacity with the state of Alabama or any of its departments, agencies, boards, commissions, or public educational institutions on a compensated or non-compensated basis. In addition, anyone who receives compensation for the passage, defeat, or modification of legislation by conveying information and opinions to legislators or influencing the actions of the State of Alabama or any of its departments, agencies, board, commissions, or public educational institutions may not seek a fourth term.

League Action and Justification: LWVAL is monitoring HB130.
LWVAL has no position on term limits. This proposed amendment is more carefully crafted than the Senate version (SB12), which leaves several important questions unanswered. It also has a more direct bearing on the quality of legislative action. The prohibitions to a fourth term after a quadrennium outside the legislature seem designed to prevent what is often called “the revolving door.”

In so far as both bills seek to reduce the power of lobbyists in the legislature, they seem to coincide with League’s general support for reducing the power of special interests on legislation. For those who see term limits as a restriction of the knowledge needed for good public policy, the prohibitions might seem too restrictive.

Bill Progress in Legislature:
02/05/2013 – First Reading and preferred to the

SB104 - Legislative immunity, constitutional provision regarding privilege from arrest, eliminated, Section 56, Constitution of Alabama of 1901, (Section 56, Recompiled Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended), am'd., const. amend.

Sponsor(s): Senators Orr and Pitman

Summary/Synopsis: At present members of the legislature are privileged from arrest during their attendance at a session and in going to and returning from a session, except for treason, felony, violation of their oath of office or breach of the peace . This bill repeals that privilege . The bill upholds immunity for any speech or debate made in either house, and adds that such speech and debate shall not be questioned in any other place.

League Action and Justification: LWVAL is monitoring SB104.
This amendment prohibits the flouting of traffic laws that was the practice of some members past legislative sessions. The original immunity is outdated. League has no specific position that legislators should not receive this privileged. The bill advances the concept of equal justice for all, which underlies our principles.

Bill Progress in Legislature:
02/05/2013 – First Reading and referred to the
02/14/2013: 2nd Reading and placed on the Calendar; pending 3rd Reading and Favorable from CCFE&E.

05/07/2013: Indefinitely postponed.

green-right-arrow.jpgHB147/SB122 - Joint Committee on Legislative Operations, Senate Committee on Senate Administration, House Committee on House Administration, Legislative Services Agency created, duties transferred, administrative functions assigned, Legislative Council, Joint Fiscal Committee, Legislative Committee on Public Accounts, Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment, Legislative Building Authority, Legislative Reference Service, Legislative Fiscal Office abolished, Chapter 5A, commencing with Section 29-5A-1, added; Secs…. repealed

HB147 - Representative Wren
SB122 - Senators Holley, Marsh, Waggoner, Brewbaker, Allen, Ward, Reed, Dial, Sanford, Scofield, Smith, Taylor, Williams, Ross, Fielding, Blackwell, Bussman, Orr, Glover, Whatley and Beason.

NOTE -- The previous Summary and Analysis of HB147/SB122 is irrelevant with the introduction of SB122 Substitute 151132-8, a significant revision, and has been removed from this report. HB147 has never moved out of committee. This SB122 Substitute is pending third reading and on the calendar for day 30 in the House. Favorable from State Government committee with this 1 substitute and 1 amendment.

Summary of the SB122 Substitute (151132-8) by House Committee on State Government.
On calendar for Day 30.

This revision would restructure the current Legislative Council instead of creating a Joint Committee on Legislative Operations with broad powers over most legislative entities. It provides for membership on Legislative Council of 7 members of each house, who also comprise the membership of the Senate and House Councils, respectively. These elected members must include two minority party members, and should be “inclusive and reflect the racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic diversity of the state.” Council members will serve on two newly created subcommittees, the Legislative Reference Service Oversight Subcommittee and the Legislative Services Office Oversight Subcommittee.

The new Legislative Services Office with a Director of Legislative Services is to be responsible for the general administrative services that are centralized for efficiency, such as payroll, accounting, and purchasing functions; space allocation in the State House; maintenance of a website of legislative expenses; oversight of the Legislative Data Center; and State House security. It will also perform these duties for the Fiscal Office, the Legislative Reference Service, the Alabama Law Institute, and various other entities that were listed in the previous versions. Two other new Directors include a Director of Human Resources to advise the two house councils and a Director of Technology to manage the Data Center for legislative publications on line. Legislative proceedings, however, will continue to be produced by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House. This new Legislative Services Office, as in previous versions, has the duty to contain costs, eliminate duplication and pursue all means of reducing legislative expenditures.

League Action and Justification: LWVAL is monitoring HB147 and SB122 closely.
A Legislature that functions with transparency and accountability is a major goal of League’s program.

Bill Progress in Legislature:

02/05/2013 –
First Reading and Referred to the No further legislative action has been taken on HB147 as of 05/17/13.

02/05/2013: First Reading and referred to 02/06/2013: 2nd Reading and placed on the Calendar.
02/07/2013: 3rd Reading Carried Over to Call of the Chair; Holley motion to Carry over to the call of the Chair adopted by Voice Vote; Unfinished Business
02/12/2013: Holley First Substitute Offered (14811-2); Motion to Adopt adopted by Roll Call vote (20-9-0)
02/14/2013: Unfinished Business.
02/19/2013: 3rd Reading Carried Over; Holley Substitute to Holley Amendment Offered (148831-4); Holley motion to Table adopted by Voice Vote; Holley motion to Table Holley Amendment adopted by Voice Vote; Holley Amendment (148831-6) offered; Holley motion to Adopt adopted by Roll Call vote (26-0-0); Ross 1st Substitute Offered (148505-1); Rules Committee Petition to Cease Debate lost (2-27-0); Holley Motion to Carry Over Temporarily adopted by Voice Vote; Further consideration.

02/28/2013: 3RD Reading Passed; Holley 2nd Substitute (149258-3) Offered; Rules Committee Petition to Cease Debated adopted by Roll Call Voter; Holley to suspend reading of Substitute per Rule 80 adopted by Roll Call vote; Holley motion to Adopt Holley Substitute adopted by Roll Call vote; Holley motion to Adopt Ross Substitute as Amended adopted by Roll Call vote; Motion to Read a 3rd Time and Pass adopted by Roll Call vote (18-13-1); Engrossed.

02/28/2013: Read for the 1st time in the House and referred to the
04/23/2013: Read for the 2nd time and place on the calendar with 1 substitute (151132-8)and 1 (152535-1); State Government 1st Substitute Offered; State Government 1st Amendment offered;
pending 3rd Read and Favorable from State Government with 1 Substitute and 1 Amendment.

SB122 Substitute 151132-8 (significant revision) is on House calendar for day 30 favorable from House SG committee.

05/20/2013: House
3rd Reading passed; State Government 1st Substitute (151132-8 ) offered; State Government Amendment (152535-1 ) offered; Motion to Adopt adopted (75-23-1); Wren Motion to Table adopted (90-3-5);
Wren Amendment (153898-1) Offered; Motion to Adopt adopted (90-4-4);
Rogers Amendment (153977-1 ) offered; Motion to Adopt adopted (98-0-1);
Clouse Amendment (153970-2) offered; Motion to Adopt adopted ( 97-0-0);
McMillan Amendment (153917-2 ) Offered; Motion to Adopt adopted (97-0-2);
Newton Amendment (153941-1) Offered; Motion to Adopt Lost (47-49-2);
Motion to read a 3rd time and Pass adopted (72-26-1); Givan inadvertently voted “Yea” and intended to vote “Nay”

05/20/2013: Senate
Concurrence requested; Died in the basket.

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