Jefferson County lawmakers prepare for session

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County lawmakers are packing their bags for another legislative session.

Gardendale Senate Scott Beason says passing budgets this year will not be easy.

"My side says let's do what families do, let's cut back," Beason said. "Prioritize our spending and tighten our belts. The other sides says how can be find more money."

The down turn in the economy has led to a serious drop in state revenues. Birmingham Rep. John Rogers is one of the lawmakers looking for more money. Rogers is again pushing a bill which will legalize casino gambling in Alabama.

"I'm saying lay it all on the table," Rogers said. "My casino gambling bill allows everything, poker, blackjack. Not just electronic bingo. You can't just allow electronic bingo."

But, some lawmakers will be pushing again a bill to tax and legalized electronic gaming throughout the state. This is why Beason is pushing a constitutional amendment calling for voters to decide if they want to outlaw all forms of gambling in Alabama.

"Gamblers don't like it because they might lose," Beason said. "Those against gambling don't like it thinking they might lose. I personally think the rational approach let's see where the people are and then go from there."

There will be other issues. Legislators will debate a new set of ethics bills, one to give subpoena power to the state ethics commission. There will also be another push to remove the state sales tax on food. Many parents are hoping lawmakers bailout the prepaid college tuition program. Other lawmakers will also try to revamp Jefferson Co. government.

With all of this, Rogers said he is not optimistic about the session.

"This is a dead session," Rogers said. "DOA. Dead on arrival."

The session begins at noon Tuesday in Montgomery. You can watch Gov. Bob Riley's State of the State speech at 6:30 p.m. on www.FoxAlabamaLive.com.  You can also get more political coverage on our new statewide politics blog:

http://alabama.raycompolitics.com/