We have a bevy of those people in the Alabama Legislature, senators and representatives who introduce the same bill, year after year, only to see their hopes crushed by a vote of their peers or by decisions of a few who have ultimate power.
There is Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, whose yearly exercise in futility — legislation to legalize medical marijuana — has so little chance of passage that it received the not-so-coveted Shroud Award given to the bill that was “dead on arrival.”
There is Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, who regularly introduces legislation to take the state sales tax off food, and regularly watches it go nowhere. The irony here is that while it is difficult to find anyone who supports taxing food ó or will at least will not publicly admit they do — an uncommon coalition forms to defeat it. The education lobby will not get on board unless the money schools lose is replaced with revenue from another source. The anti-tax forces stand foursquare against raising replacement money through new taxes or the loss of current tax breaks. Result, Alabama continues to punish the working poor for living here and reward their affluent neighbors.
Then there are times when legislation has overwhelming political support and is popular among the people it would affect, and yet it dies as the session ends.
Consider the fate of this year’s bill that would protect nonprofit spay/neuter clinics and allow them to continue their work. Although the bill passed the state House of Representatives, had the support of the largest state association of veterinarians and had the necessary votes in the state Senate, it was opposed by a small (some would say tiny) breakaway (some would say renegade) group of veterinarians who loudly spread misinformation, got the ear of Senate leadership, and prevented the legislation from coming to a vote.
Supporters say they will introduce the bill again until the matter is fairly debated and leaders allow legislators to decide its fate.
Maybe this will be one case where persistence pays off.