Local bills test state senator

Published 6:41 pm Monday, May 11, 2009

State Senator Hank Erwin is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to two decisions remaining this week — a position no elected official longs to be in.

The first decision seems already made, when it comes to the proposed Chilton County Commission’s business license bill. In our mind, the right decision was made, but the reasons for such a decision remain unclear.

For weeks, we have called for the bill to be pulled because it was poorly written and gave far too few details on how the commission would set up a business license. We felt, as did others, that it gave the commission a blank check of sorts — an authority no electorate should feel good about giving elected leaders.

Erwin, through pressure he alleges came from citizens in Chilton County, has decided to hold the bill from a senate vote this week, thus killing the bill.

We applaud this decision by the senator but understand the pain this decision places on the county’s finances.

It remains our position that this could have been avoided earlier in the year if the commission had reached a clear consensus and provided exact details on how the license’s fees would be levied.

It is our opinion that the bill was rushed and needed to be pulled.

The other issue comes with a veto override vote involving House Bill 175. This bill would give Jemison and Thorsby — in addition to similar towns their size in dry counties — the right to organize a referendum to sell alcohol.

Sen. Erwin voted against this bill early on and seems set to not endorse a Gov. Riley veto.

An attempt to override the governor’s veto — thus making the bill law — was held last week and came up short. There will surely be another attempt in the coming days.

We encourage Sen. Erwin to vote to override the veto. His reasons for not doing so earlier are because he wanted to support his governor and his party.

Those reasons don’t seem good enough. If it is a moral issue, then fine.

But, this is a bill that would give the voters the right to decide for themselves, much in the way they decided for themselves two years ago to send Sen. Erwin back to Montgomery.

Neither of these decisions are easy, but we didn’t elect Sen. Erwin to make easy decisions, we elected him to do what is best for Chilton County — not his governor or his party.