State Senate Battles Over Tornado Relief
By Alabama Public Radio
Tuscaloosa AL – The state Senate met for nearly three hours yesterday and spent much of that time arguing over emergency funds intended to help the tornado-ravaged city of Enterprise. Lawmakers debated when they would consider a bill to provide $79 million in emergency funding to rebuild two schools destroyed by the March 1 twister. Democrats wanted to wait until a House-passed version of the tornado relief bill could be considered next week. Some lawmakers also question whether the two schools couldn't be rebuilt for as little as $40 million. The opposition came from a minority coalition made up of Republicans and a few Democrats that wanted to go ahead and debate a tornado relief bill so Enterprise residents would know that the issue was a legislative priority. Eight high school students were killed when the hallway where they were huddled collapsed during the storm. The Senate voted 17-16 against considering the Enterprise funding bill and instead approved a work calendar that includes a bill to provide $13 million in funding for special projects in senators' districts. The vote sparked continuing debate, much of it heated. Senators adjourned without voting on a single bill. They are now on Spring Break until April 20th.