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Sen. Bishop Drops Plans To Sue

By Associated Press

Montgomery AL – A state senator who punched a fellow legislator announced Thursday he's ready to put the blow behind him and he won't sue over the Senate taking disciplinary action against him.

"It's time to lay this down," Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Jasper, told the Senate.

Bishop's target, Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, agreed.

"It's over," Barron said.

On June 7, the final day of the 2007 legislative session, Bishop punched Barron in the head in the Senate chamber during the start of a recess. The two men disagreed about what led up to the punch, which was captured on video by an Alabama Public Television photographer and seen around the world on TV newscasts and the Internet site YouTube.

On Tuesday, the first day of the 2008 session, the Democrat-controlled Senate split along party lines to pass a resolution laying out sanctions for future violence. Also, the Senate panel that controls assignments to Senate committees took the Republican senator off nearly all Senate committees.

On Wednesday, Bishop announced he would file a suit, claiming the Senate had violated his constitutional rights of due process.

But on Thursday morning, Bishop told a story that sounded like the turning point of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

The 70-year-old senator described how he woke up a 2 a.m. Thursday and started pondering whether suing was the best action.

At 8 a.m., he called his attorney and decided not to sue.

Then after months of not speaking with Barron, he met privately with the senator.

The final step was announcing his decision to the Senate.

"I'm going to treat everybody in this Senate the same way I want to be treated," Bishop said.

The three-term senator said he will still be passionate about bills he supports. "But I'm going to do that with integrity," he said.

His fellow senators responded with applause.

"Sen. Bishop, I'm sure the body appreciates those comments," Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. told him.

Bishop's comments did not undo the actions the Senate took against him Tuesday.

But under the Senate's operating rules, Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, can designate any senator to take his place on any Senate committee. Waggoner has designated Bishop to replace him on the Rules Committee, which recommends the Senate's daily work agenda.

Barron is chairman of the Rules Committee.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved

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