Thursday, April 20, 2006

In which the year's theme is reintroduced

A postmortem of this year's Alabama legislative session just wouldn't be complete without a look at the bills that passed (or didn't) due primarily or entirely to the fact that it's an election year. Here, now, are a few of those things, each rewarded with its own paragraph:

Nine measures targeting illegal immigration died, including one that rightly would punish employers who regularly hire undocumented workers and another that punitively would permit officials to seize the vehicles and personal property of otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants. The inaction leaves immigration available for lawmakers to use as a hot-button wedge issue in the fall, and even better for them, it allows them to blame the other side for not doing anything.

The state will issue "God Bless America" license plates beginning in October, giving people an alternative to the standard "Stars Fell on Alabama" and a way, at no extra cost, to sort the ultra-patriotic from the merely patriotic.

Alabama public schools won't teach a uniform elective Bible literacy class after the enabling legislation stalled. It might seem counterintuitive to chalk this one up to electoral mechinations, but the bill's failure protects incumbents on all fronts. Public schools still can offer Bible-related electives, the state can avoid a church-state lawsuit, and politicians can dodge the wrath of more conservative Christians who would have been mad that the bill didn't allow the teaching of the Bible as the literal truth.

And yes, in keeping with tradition, state employees got a pay raise in a year ending with an even number. The fact that the move was justifiable on policy grounds -- salaries have fallen behind the cost of living lately -- probably didn't hurt either, but history indicates it wasn't the dispositive factor.

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