Organizational Session Report – January 13, 2023

This Tuesday, the Alabama Legislature convened the 2023 Organizational Session to vote on new leadership positions, rule changes, and announce this year’s committee assignments and chairs.

With such an active election cycle in 2022, there was a significant amount of turnover in the House membership, while the Senate remained relatively consistent. There are 30 new state representatives and six new state senators.

Leadership also underwent many changes within the House Chambers on Tuesday with Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) as the newly elected Speaker of the House, Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) as Speaker Pro Tempore, and Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartsell) now the Majority Leader. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) both maintained their positions.

Committee assignments for the Senate were announced on Wednesday with many new faces and additional members. The full list of Senate committee assignments and chairs can be found HERE.  House assignments were announced today with significant changes, and the full list can be found HERE.

A number of significant changes in the rules of procedure were made in both the House and Senate.  A new House rule requires a four hour notice of meetings on bills received from the Senate after the 20th legislative day, compared to the previous 24 hour notice after the 27th legislative day.

Another House rule change allows for all committee amendments to be combined as a committee substitute and voted together rather than voting on each amendment separately. This reduces the number of motions required to actually begin to debate a bill on the House floor. This eliminates a tool for those who may be opposed to a bill and trying to delay or prevent its passage,

A significant change was also made in the House rules regarding the contest or challenge to a local bill being considered on the House floor. Previously, any one member, from inside or outside a county legislative delegation could contest a local bill. Under the new rules, either two members from within the county or eleven members from outside the county may contest a local bill.

Finally, a rule change allows for the speaker to assign a bill to a second committee, commonly referred to as a sequential referral.  This is an important new change which could significantly delay consideration of a bill, particularly controversial legislation at the end of the session.

The Senate also removed the requirement of a 48 hour notice to hold a public hearing.  That 48 hour requirement is now a recommendation. Finally, both the House and Senate agreed to remove a joint rule to require a one hour notice for a conference committee to meet. Now, a conference committee can meet at the will of the leadership without formal notice.

Upcoming legislative Schedule

Inauguration festivities will kick off on Sunday and continue through Monday night, with the swearing-in ceremony for the Governor and other state elected officials occurring at 10:00 a.m. on Monday.

The House of Representatives and Senate will convene for the 2023 regular legislative session on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.