Last week, the Alabama Legislature opted not to take up a bill that would have initiated the clawback of a $5 million appropriation for the Alabama Department of History and Archives (ADAH) from the education supplemental budget passed earlier this year during the regular session.
The bill, filed by State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine), was a response to ADAH's decision to host a controversial luncheon discussion called "Invisible No More: Alabama's LGBTQ+ History."
Friday, during an appearance on FM Talk 106.5 in Mobile, Elliott said despite being unable to advance the bill in the redistricting special session last week, he anticipated a renewed effort in the 2024 legislative session, set to begin in February.
"I would say this is a long game, and that's one of the things I've had to learn in the legislature is patience and playing the long game," he said. "My bill that would have clawed back $5 million from Archives and History in order to send a message about their programming and how it is not, you know, compatible with the views of what the Alabama Legislature or constituents want to see programmatically at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. It was assigned to the Education Budget Committee, which is appropriate because it was dealing with the supplemental appropriation from the education budget. That committee decided not to meet. The chairman decided not to meet. That's regrettable. Committee chairmen have a lot of power in the Alabama Senate and the legislature as a whole, and that was its fate."
"However, I do believe that this issue is front of mind for my colleagues," Elliott continued. "They very much want to deal with this in the regular session that comes up just in a few short months in February. We will be dealing with the Department of Archives and History. We will be dealing with the make-up of their board, how their board is appointed. It currently is a self-perpetuating board. I think that's going to change. We have budgets to deal with next year. What I proposed would have been a clawback from a supplemental appropriation, extra money. What we'll be dealing with next year is operational funds and whether or not those are reduced. I have heard from my colleagues a very real appetite to deal with the issue that is at Archives and History and to send a very strong message to them and to the other bureaucracies of this state and the professional political class here in Montgomery — that we are not interested in talking about LGBTQ issues at the Alabama Department of Archives and History."
"I expect fully that that is something that comes up in the regular session," he added. "And I imagine that the Department of Archives and History is going to look back at what I proposed and say, 'Man, we probably should have just taken that.'"
The Baldwin County Republican lawmaker emphasized the importance of responding to ADAH's dismissiveness of lawmaker concerns and vowed he and his colleagues would react.
"I think that some of the options that were put before them to ensure that they had received our message — they're going to look back on and wish that they had taken some of those options because what happens in the upcoming session is liable to be broad, and it is liable to change a number of things at Archives and History — from funding to leadership to board appointments, confirmations and how the board operates," Elliott said. "They've got a huge management change coming in their future."
Jeff Poor is the editor in chief of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
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