Lindsey was lion in Senate

Published 7:19 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009

By Staff
The Legislative session is a month old. One third of the legislative days have been spent. The national economic recession has had a devastating effect on the state’s two budgets. It has cast an ominous cloud over everything legislators try to undertake. They are wrestling with the crafting of an Education Budget that is currently under 12.6 percent proration and facing a $300 million shortfall in the next fiscal year. However, the legislature may be saved by the federal stimulus spending package. There may be as much as $3 billion of one time money coming to Alabama in the deal. Santa Claus may have come early in the form of one Uncle Sam.
We, in Alabama, are more behind the eight ball than other states because we are more reliant upon tax revenues that are sensitive to an economic downturn. We depend on sales and income tax collections, which are down dramatically. We also have a Senate that has been stymied by a partisan stalemate that has rendered them dormant for the past three years. There was speculation that an internal Democratic battle would erupt over the transfer of the gavel from Hinton Mitchem to Rodger Smitherman. However, the Democrats coalesced around Smitherman in an 18-12 vote.
The tenuous coalitions are even more fragile, unyielding and unpredictable because three of the 35 Senate seats are vacant. Sen. Pat Lindsey, one of the leaders of the Democrats, died unexpectedly in January, leaving his Southwest Alabama district unrepresented. Two other Democrats are also absent from this year’s session. Parker Griffith from Huntsville has gone to Congress, and Democrat E.B. McClain from Birmingham has gone to jail.
Pat Lindsey was an icon in the state Senate. He was considered one of the lions of the upper chamber. He was in his seventh term, close to 30 years. He died at 72, which means that he spent over half of his adult life representing the good people of Southwest Alabama in the Senate.
Another former Sen. Tom King Sr. of Birmingham, died at 83 in January. Tom King’s family has been a mainstay of Birmingham politics and law for three generations. Tom King’s father was a respected Jefferson County Circuit Judge. His son, Tom King Jr., currently sits as a Jefferson County Circuit Judge and is one of the most respected and popular judges in the state. Another son, Alan King, serves as Jefferson County probate judge. Sen. King was a stalwart legislator in the 1970s and was instrumental in passing legislation regarding election reform and educational support.
Steve Flowers served in the state Senate and now writes a political column

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