2019 Organizational Session Recap

The Alabama House and Senate convened on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Organizational Session, which is a time for the body to vote on leadership and legislative operating rules. Almost one-third of the legislature is new, with 29 new representatives and 13 new senators.

In the House, they voted to re-elect Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R – Monrovia) as Speaker of the House. Rep. Victor Gaston (R – Mobile) was re-elected Speaker Pro Tem, and Rep. Anthony Daniels (D – Huntsville) will continue on as Minority Leader. In the Senate, Sen. Del Marsh (R – Anniston) was re-elected as President Pro Tem, and Sen. Bobby Singleton (D – Greensboro) will serve as Minority Leader.

There was contention in the House over proposed changes to the operating rules. Democrats objected to a rule that would limit debate on the Special Order calendar. In the past, legislators had up to two hours to debate the calendar. The proposed rule would have given the Speaker discretion to determine the length of debate on the calendar. They eventually compromised on an amendment from Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D – Birmingham) that would limit debate to one hour.

Other changes include allowing the Speaker to speed up the time for readings of bills at length and giving the Speaker wide discretion to remove members from the Chambers judged to be in “breach of the peace.”

The rules were eventually approved on party lines 77 to 28.

The Senate was much less contentious and approved rules that are very similar to the rules from last quadrennium.

The House and Senate will convene for the 2019 Regular Legislative Session on March 5, 2019.