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Nice Manners in Alabama

In Politics on June 8, 2007 at 11:51 am

A fight broke out on the Alabama senate floor yesterday as the session was coming to a close. The punch came from Sen. Charles Bishop (R) of Jasper and landed on the cheek of Sen. Lowell Barron (D) of Fyffe. Here is a clip from the Alabama Senate Smackdown:

Mature…very mature. This is the example we should be setting for our governmental officials. Nice work boys!

The following is from Thursday night’s Montgomery Advertiser Newspaper online:

Session ends with a bang

By Jamie Kizzire

As images of a state senator punching another on the Senate floor on the final day of the session were broadcast across the state and the world, several senators agreed to an obvious understatement — things have got to change next year.

They agreed legislation should be passed. They agreed both sides must respect one another.

But they both disagreed on how that happens.

“Unless they change, things won’t change,” said Senate Republican leader Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills.

Waggoner was referring to the Democratic majority in the Senate that he believes is trying to shut a group of Republicans and some Democrats out of the legislative process.

Sen. Bobby Denton, D-Muscle Shoals, said Republicans must accept that they are in the minority.

“You’ve got to accept it and let it go,” he said.

For most of the session the Republican minority stalled legislation in protest of operating rules they say are unfair to them.

The tense session exploded Thursday when Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Jasper, punched fellow Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, on the Senate floor during the last day of the session.

Their accounts of what provoked the event differed as much as their votes have, but it topped off a session in which patience was tested and tempers flared.

Bishop had unsuccessfully asked Barron to bring up a bill banning money transfers between political action committees during the meeting. The incident occurred shortly after the Senate recessed.

Bishop said Barron had called him a “son of a bitch.”

Barron, who said he is considering bringing criminal charges against Bishop, denied it. Barron said he might have said he “didn’t give a damn.”

He said Bishop told him to “watch your back” because “I’m going to F you every day.”

“Nothing I did was provocative,” he said.

But Bishop disagreed, saying he responded accordingly to a remark about his mother.

“I responded with my right hand,” he said. “I hit him wherever I could get my right hand on him.”

He apologized for it happening on the floor of the Senate, but did not apologize for hitting him.

“If he calls me that again, it will happen again,” he said.

Bishop left the chamber for the rest of the day.

A group of Democratic senators have filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics and Conduct Committee.

They also sought to have Bishop barred from the chamber for the rest of the day, but did not vote on the measure after he left.

Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, hopes this changes behavior in the Senate.

“I hope it will cause both sides to do something,” said Erwin. “I’ve been seeing it brewing for the whole time.”

Democratic Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. said he believed the incident wasn’t indicative of the session but simply an “emotional outburst” by Bishop.

“It was basically more of the immediate circumstances of the moment,” he said.

Sen. Larry Dixon, R-Montgomery, said it is a symptom of the session.

“It’s kind of indicative of just how much tension there is in the Senate right now,” he said.

Folsom said the first legislative session after an election is usually contentious as senators settle into their roles as a majority or a minority. But time can heal these wounds.

“A lot of things can happen between now and the next session,” he said.

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