Alabama House of Representatives elects new leadership
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lawmakers gathered in Montgomery for an organizational session Tuesday. Representatives unanimously elected Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-DeKalb County, to serve as the new speaker of the House.
Former House Speaker Mac McCutcheon left the House floor for the last time, leaving Ledbetter, who was previously the majority leader, to take his seat.
“It’s time to go to work,” said Ledbetter.
“He’s a man of his word and at the end of the day in this business is all about keeping your word,” said Rep. Anthony Daniels, the House minority leader.
Ledbetter will decide what bills make it to the floor for debate. His top priority is making fentanyl possession a felony.
“If they come in Alabama with fentanyl they’re going to be punished to the highest extent,” said Ledbetter.
Even with a Republican supermajority, Ledbetter says he will foster healthy debate.
“The speaker’s gavel is not a weapon. It’s a tool to be used to encourage honest debate, find common ground and represent the constituents that each of us seek to serve,” he said.
The gavel was heard Tuesday to call order as representatives debated proposed rule changes. The biggest change increases the number of representatives needed to contest local bills.
“If you’re wanting to contest an issue that is in another county, it would take 11 members to do that,” said Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R-Lee.
Another rule reduced the time for debate from two hours to one hour. Supporters of the rule change say it will streamline the legislative process and give more power to committee chairs.
Both parties seemed satisfied.
“(There were) valid concerns and there were some agreements and concessions that have happened, so we’re starting off right,” said Daniels.
Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, was elected speaker pro tempore. John Treadwell was elected clerk of the House.
The Senate also held elections. Leadership will stay the same with Sen. Greg Reed as the chamber’s pro tempore, Sen. Clay Scofield as majority leader and Sen. Bobby Singleton as minority leader.
Lawmakers will meet Wednesday to finish the organizational session and meet in March to debate laws.
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