A little help, M’lords: Don’t let good legislation get lost in the ‘House of Lords’
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Apr 11, 2012 | 1423 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The “House of Lords,” a term occasionally used to describe the Alabama Senate, has frequently been where bills — some good, some bad — go to die.

That’s how it is supposed to be.

The House of Representatives, reflecting the state’s broad democratic base, is more attuned to popular pressures that the upper house is there to modify, mollify and temper with reason and restraint.

However, bills do come out of the lower house that should not be delayed by partisan wrangling and naysayer nit-picking, despite the popular agitation behind them. This week, two such bills have gone to the Senate for debate.

The first is a bill that, among other things, would change the retirement age for public employees.

Today, state workers can retire and start drawing a pension after working 25 years (10 years if they are over 60). If this bill becomes law, new hires would have to wait until they were 62 (56 for law enforcement and fire fighters) to collect.

Although the state retirement system is not in as bad a shape as some claim, this would make the system stronger and save more than $5 billion over the next three decades. The bill has been endorsed by the governor, the head of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, the Alabama State Employees Association and top-ranking members of the House. The Senate passed it Tuesday; now it returns to the House and heads to the governor.

The second bill is the constitutional amendment that would tie legislative pay to Alabama’s median household income.

The bill was written in reaction to the outrage over the legislative pay raise passed in 2007 when Alabama families were seeing their incomes battered by the beginnings of the Great Recession. The bill would also save the state money in the future.

The Senate should look closely at this one and consider the contention that legislators might make more under this plan because of changes in mileage and expense reimbursement. Nevertheless, the general concept is good. With necessary adjustments, this bill should pass as well.

It is time for the “House of Lords” to do its work — deliberately, cautiously, but decisively.

Good legislation can come from this. This page hopes that is what happens.
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