A dispute in the State Senate could affect a bill designed to help the teachers who have to dig into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies. The bill would give teachers $300 to pay for those supplies. But the bill is on hold, because it wasn't voted on in time avoid a key procedural deadline.
By state law, bills known as "Sunset Laws" have to be considered beginning at 3 p.m. on the 10th day of the Legislative Session, which was Tuesday.
Republicans thought their school supply bill would pass the Senate quickly, but Democrats announced an amendment to the bill that would give teachers $1,000 for supplies. Democrats talked about their amendment until members hit the "sunset" deadline.
Republicans said they were caught off guard by the Democrats' amendment, and the delay it caused.
"It's sad that we couldn't have worked together today, passed a few bills that were non-controversial and agreed upon and then gone on to sunset," said Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and Senate President Pro Tempore. "But you decided not to do that, and apparently if you want to talk you'll have your chance.
Democrats said they didn't know the bill would be on the Senate floor until just a few minutes before the day's session started. The amendment's sponsor, Senator Tammy Irons of Florence, wanted assurances her $1,000 plan would make it through to the House.
"They're a supermajority," said Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, and Senate Minority Leader. "They can run over us. Our only opportunity is to offer it at the microphone. Had they given her assurances that they would have kept it at a $1,000, it would have been passed just like that.'
The Senate must consider the 26 "Sunset Laws" before they can consider the teacher school supply bills. Members only passed one before the Senate adjourned for the day.
"I'm going to keep on doing everything I've been doing to push this bill, push this legislation and $300 in the classroom for every classroom teacher," said Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, the bill's sponsor.
Reed's bill differs from Governor Robert Bentley's proposal. The Governor's plan would provide tax credits for teachers instead of paying them the money directly.
The Senate reconvenes on Thursday at 8 a.m.
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