By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
After being mostly quiet the last six months, the Alabama State House has been a bustle of activity this week with legislative orientation taking place.
New members of the House and Senate are in town going through a full slate of meetings and training sessions meant to bring them up to speed on the rules and procedures of the Alabama Legislature. Many veteran lawmakers are also in town, offering encouragement and advice to the “freshmen” class while getting a head start on issues and potential legislation heading into the 2019 Regular Session.
Put on by Othni Lathram and his team at the Legislative Services Agency, this year’s legislative orientation includes an ambitious three-day schedule of seminars, from mandatory ethics training, a sexual harassment prevention and diversity training, as well as an overview of Alabama budgets and the budgeting process. State Rep. Steve Clouse chaired the planning committee for the orientation; State Sen. Vivian Figures, State Rep. April Weaver, and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed served on the planning committee as well.
The training is especially important this year because of the significant number of new lawmakers. In the House, there are 29 brand new Representatives who have yet to take a vote, and a few others who were just elected in the last two years. In the Senate, there are 12 new Senators, though two previously served in the House.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh told Alabama Daily News that he was encouraged by all the new faces and the energy they are bringing to Montgomery. He said that this upcoming legislative session should be very productive and produce positive results.
“We’ve got an excellent group of people here who are ready to go to work and it has the feel of having a fresh start because you do have all of these new members coming in but you also have enough of the veterans that can also help usher in the new members as well,” said Marsh.
Most of what is being introduced to the new members are the proper floor procedures, committee structure, and the flow of legislation. It’s also a chance for everyone to meet after a long election cycle.
Some new members of Legislature told Alabama Daily News this orientation week has been very useful and informative, offering an opportunity to get a handle on proper proceedings and meet new colleagues.
“It’s been useful for me to get to know the other legislators, I probably didn’t know more than 15 of them before this and there’s 77 just in my caucus and I feel like I probably know about 30 of them now,” Rep. Andrew Sorrell from House District 3 in Colbert and Lawrence counties, said.
“Legislative orientation is going great and is very informative. I appreciate the Orientation Planning Committee and the employees of the House & Senate for giving us the opportunity to have this educational forum. It has been beneficial to get to know the other legislators in addition to learning the rules & procedures of the legislature,” Rep. Wes Allen, from House District 89 in Pike and Dale counties, said.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting all of the new members of the legislature. We have a great crop of folks who are ready to tackle the big issues facing the State of Alabama. The orientation this week will help us hit the ground running for the next session,”Sen. Andrew Jones from Senate District 10 in Etowah, Cherokee and Delkab counties said.
Here is a good clip from Reshad Hudson over at CBS 42 interviewing new member Rep. Will Dismukes from House District 88.
And here’s a good picture of the new members being sworn in from the Alabama Business Council twitter.
Caroline Beck is a reporter based out of Montgomery. You can reach her on Twitter @CarolineBeckADN or through email at [email protected].