Have you ever been in one of those “no-lose” situations? We’ve all seen the “no-win” situations, but sometimes the stars align and you find yourself looking at your personal situation and thinking “why would I not?”
Sometimes big decisions are actually the easiest when the facts and circumstances just line up in such a way that you look at yourself in the mirror and realize there’s nothing to lose.
When I asked Charlene to marry me (35 years ago this month!) it was actually a no-brainer. I had no money, no job, I was only 21 and still in school - but hey! I knew the upside. Why would I not?
When I went to Army Ranger School, I had no advance notice, none of the usual train up period to prepare. But a slot opened up with six days’ notice. Why would I not?
When I was asked to consider running for the State Senate, I reviewed the opportunity fully. Charlene and I talked and prayed about it and knew that we believed in the cause. Why would I not?
When I decided to hang my shingle and open my own law firm, or more recently to start a radio show, those decisions were made sitting on the couch at home with Charlene, trying to find a reason why we would not commit to either one. We couldn’t find one. Why would we not?
Right now, the Alabama Legislature is in that very same position. The Governor was allegedly giving them cover with an Executive Order on vaccine mandates. It was not exactly “cover.” In fact, it was more like having a cardboard shield in a sword fight - looks good on the outside but nothing to it in reality.
The Governor then issued the call to a special session which contained nothing dealing with vaccine mandates. Let’s be clear: there is no greater issue before the people of this state right now than that of vaccine mandates causing the loss of jobs right at the holidays. It’s maddening to think that nothing was contemplated to bring the weight of the legislative branch of government into session to take action.
But the State House and Senate have now convened in special session. The Governor’s call is in place but the agenda is not finalized. State law allows that in the course of a special session the legislature may take up matters outside the call if two-thirds of each body vote to do so. That’s a high hurdle, but it's doable.
So, while protestors picketed the steps of the Statehouse, a group of Senators introduced no less than six bills dealing with vaccine mandates and related matters with the House introducing several of their own. One of those senate bills has twenty co-sponsors – equating to over half the Senate. The word from several of my former colleagues is that a bill addressing vaccine mandates will at least come out of the Senate and go down to the House.
Meanwhile Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon has openly stated that he does not intend to bring those bills to the House floor. But further indications are that the House GOP caucus expressed themselves and the mood was “Why would we not?!”
This current legislature needs to recoup their conservative bona fides. Their claim to fame thus far is having raised gas taxes, spent more tax dollars than ever, legalized marijuana and debated expansion of casinos. But they're still wanting to be known for principled conservative positions and now they’re hearing … really hearing … loudly … from the people of this state that something needs to be done. Why would they not?
Rumor abounds that the Governor would prefer to wait and see, to let the Attorney General litigate without benefit of legislation, or at least wait for a possible (key word being “possible”) second special session on the topic of federal mandates.
Let’s not forget that the legislature is a wholly separate and distinct branch of government. They can have their own agendas. They can have their own say. They can introduce a bill that the Governor does or does not like at their own discretion. In this case they should address their constituents’ pressing needs and pass good legislation aimed at addressing federal vaccine mandates and then put the onus on the Governor to sign it or explain to the people why she won’t. Why would they not?
It's a “no-lose” situation. The public will see that the Legislature cares, and that it took unilateral action on their behalf. The AG will have another tool in his toolbox for the legal fight. Alabama will be able to say that we do in fact “Dare to Defend Our Rights,” thereby fulfilling the state motto, and every single legislator can look their constituents in the eye and say with confidence: “I am in the State Legislature. The Governor called us into special session to do one thing but we chose to do another so that the people of this state will be protected!”
It’s a no-lose situation. Why would they not?
Phil Williams is a former State Senator, retired Army Colonel and combat veteran, and a practicing Attorney. He has served with the leadership of the Alabama Policy Institute and currently hosts Rightside Radio M-F 2-5pm on WVNN. His column appears every Monday in 1819 News. To contact Phil or request him for a speaking engagement go to www.rightsideradio.org The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information toCommentary@1819News.com