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Fight for Control in Alabama Senate

By Associated Press

Tuscaloosa, AL – The new Alabama Legislature begins meeting today (Monday) in Tuscaloosa for a three-day orientation session. And there's a struggle for Senate control. The Senate convenes for its organizational session on January Ninth. At that time, the Senate will elect a president pro tem and write its operating rules, including its committee structure. State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma sums up the battle for control of the Senate in one sentence: Those who make the rules, rule.

That means they control who serves on Senate committees and decide whether bills -- including Gov. Bob Riley's lengthy Plan 2010 agenda -- get assigned to friendly committees likely to approve them or unfriendly committees likely to bury them. Riley is working to make sure the people who rule in the Senate are friendly to him and that his proposals don't stall in Senate committees as has happened sometimes in the past.

The latest battle over control of the Senate started on election night, when Republicans increased their seats in the Senate from 10 to 12 and Democrats fell from 25 seats to 23. The battle heated up when six disgruntled Democratic senators and the 12 Republicans started talking about forming a coalition to take control of the Senate from Sanders and some other Democrats who have filled leadership posts for eight years.

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