Among the signatories were the letter’s author, Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, and Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, one of the law’s co-sponsors.
The brief, three-paragraph letter broke no ground. Its content surprised no one.
The senators, who admit the law needs clarification,” stand solidly behind this law. That’s not only unfortunate, it’s a shortsighted mistake.
How better it would have been if the senators had written the letter that follows.
‘The law’s critics are right’
Dear Gov. Bentley,
We were wrong.
It’s that simple. We can’t sugarcoat the evidence any longer. We grievously erred by supporting a law that is an albatross around the state’s neck. We overstepped. We miscalculated. We let emotion, not logic and facts, get the best of us.
Alabama’s reputation is suffering because we were blinded by our political hubris. It is our fault. For that, we sincerely apologize.
That’s why we urgently ask you to work with us as we repair the mistakes this law has created. It’s time we unraveled this spiraling mess.
It’s true that we have long recognized some administrative clarification was necessary with the law, and that clarification would be debated through the legislative process. For months we have hoped to remain steadfast in upholding the original intent of the law.
That’s now impossible. The law’s critics are right: The Beason-Hammon Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act can’t be spit-shined like a pair of scuffed-up boots. A few tweaks here and there won’t be enough. That would be a waste of the Legislature’s time.
Deep-seated problems with this law and our arrogance have brought us to this point. It’s apparent that the law is a stain on Alabama’s reputation, and that defending it in federal court will prove costly and, ultimately, fruitless.
The worst critics have been unrelenting in their attacks of not only the law, but of our motivations and, in turn, yours also. We have been called bigots; we have been accused of returning Alabama to the days of Bull Connor and George Wallace. But we reject racism, and we do not want Alabama associated with xenophobic beliefs. We don’t want to inhumanely treat people who come from another nation.
Yes, we know that’s how we look. Our enormous ego hindered us for too long. There’s no doubt that much of the nation believes this law’s supporters are guilty of mean-spirited intentions that pray on people’s fear. We can’t fight that perception as long as this law exists.
We admit that this law was not planned well. We didn’t do our homework. We didn’t understand how it would affect departments of state government. We didn’t foresee the unexpected problems that have cropped up. We are the numbskull driver who didn’t realize his car’s engine would seize up if he didn’t fill it with oil.
We cringe at the thought of either agreeing with Senate Democrats or repealing this law. Yet, it is impossible for us to ignore the obvious any longer. It is time we join our critics.
This law doesn’t deserve a tweak; it deserves a quick death.
It has gone too far, too quickly, with too little planning. Please join our efforts to correct this wrong and finally move Alabama in the right direction.
A collection of Alabama’s Republican senators