Gun rights, budgets, school safety on minds in Montgomery

© Senator Gerald Allen (R -Tuscaloosa) has another bill protecting the second amendment and Alabama made guns and ammunition from federal regulation.(

Members of the tea party crowded the Statehouse steps Tuesday making their presence and concerns known.

"We want the government to live within its budget just like we have to live within our budgets," said Janet Taverna.

"I{}won't register my weapons.{}I won't give them up and there are a lot of people who won't either. The second amendment is not about hunting. It's about the stopping the encroachment of the federal government," said gun owner Allen Shaw.

Numerous bills are aimed at protecting the second amendment. Rep. Craig Ford's bill would fallow people to keep concealed weapons in cars at work.

"It's your second amendment right. But in Alabama, businesses can set their own polices," explained Ford, (D) Gadsden who is concerned that business owners who typically back Republicans financially could kill the bill.

Senator Gerald Allen, (R) Tuscaloosa, has another bill protecting the second amendment and Alabama{}made guns and ammunition from federal regulation.

"We feel like it's important for law abiding citizens to be prepared and to be able to bear arms to protect their property, their families," said Allen.

There are also bills to protect students at school and on the bus. Senator Cam Ward, (R) Alabaster, is once again sponsoring a bill to make entry onto a school bus a class B misdemeanor.

"The Midland City incident it is the most high profile. But it's been going on for years now and right now, there is no deterrent," he said.

But debate is already heating up over the general fund budget.

"The general fund,{}which is always the poorer of the two budget ,still struggles but it's nothing compared to last year," said Ward.

"They [Republicans] act like it's peaches and roses but it's not. They are not fully funding Medicaid," said Ford.

Medicaid and corrections make up 56 percent of the general fund budget. With each Medicaid dollar cut, the state loses three federal dollars.{}Prisons also remain overcrowded,{}so some{}lawmakers doubt whether either can take any further cuts.

The state is expected to have to pay more for employee health and retirement costs, so other agencies could have to cut up to ten percent again.

"We need to be looking holistically. We need to be looking at some revenue we aren't picking up that is easy to do," said Rep. Patricia Todd, (D) Birmingham.

In September, voters decided to pull $146 million a year from reserves for the general fund. That money must also be repaid by 2015.

Lawmakers have been told the Education Trust Fund is in good shape and growing.


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