MONTGOMERY — Despite rumblings suggesting otherwise, on Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a series of rule changes along with electing new House leadership.

After drafting the proposed rules, House members began working amongst themselves behind closed doors to manage any concerns.

Many changes are meant to cut down on the time members can use to filibuster, but sources who spoke to 1819 News suggested the new rules could be used to stifle more conservative members. House Democrats also expressed concern about the rules limiting their abilities to legislate from a minority position.

See: Some lawmakers wary of proposed rule changes to be considered by the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday

Despite the fine-tuning behind closed doors, the proposed rules faced opposition from Democrats on the House floor.

State Reps. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham), Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham). Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville), Adline Clark (D-Mobile), John Rodgers (D-Birmingham) and Laura Hall (D-Huntsville) all spoke against to the rule changes.  

Many of the proposed rules earlier in the week were amended or removed entirely to ease the concerns of House members.

One proposed rule would have cut calendar debate time in half for members. At the beginning of every legislative day, the Rules Committee produces a calendar of bills for the House to deliberate that day. Members are currently allowed to debate for one hour on the calendar; the proposed rule would have cut that time in half. The proposed rule was removed due to considerable pushback.

Newly amended House Rule 23 increased the minimum number of members to contest a bill to 11. The rule would only apply to those outside the local delegation. For those in the locality, only two members or 20% of a local delegation are needed to contest a local bill — a stipulation not included in the first draft of the rules.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) spoke after the vote and discussed House Democrats' concerns with the bill and the concession leadership made in negotiations. 

"There were agreements and concessions that've happened, so we are starting off right," Daniels said. "There have been many concessions and things that have changed in the rules since last night, as late as last night, or even 11:30 today. So, some of the concerns that we've had since last week when I saw the first draft, and we've moved a long way. It could have been worse. You know, we are dealing in a super-minority environment, but we were able to negotiate and have conversations.

"As a minority party, my job as a leader is to make the right adjustments to make certain that we can still play solid defense when we need to, and that's what you saw."

Newly elected House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainesville) said he thought the new rules were fair, suggesting they would more evenly distribute power in the House.

See also: Ledbetter formally elected as House Speaker, Greg Reed reelected as Senate Pro Tem.

"I think the thing it does, it really puts more power back into the committees," Ledbetter said. "By engrossing those bills in committees, it gives the committees and the chairman more power; it actually takes power away from the chair. But we got people that was able to go to those committee meetings and do that. I certainly think that is something that's been positive for us. I think, going forward, it will help us make a smoother session days, and also it gives the chance for more people to come into committee meetings and actually hear what's going on."

According to Ledbetter, the concerns of the GOP House members were put to rest in a private caucus meeting, which likely explains the lack of Republican voices opposing the changes on the House floor.

"The Caucus met earlier this morning, and everybody that had a question or concern, we covered it and went over it," Ledbetter concluded. "And I think they were able to satisfy them. Not only that, there were some changes made. And that's why you do that; it's to give everybody a voice."

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