Alabama weighs eliminating all marriage licenses — gay or straight

James Dansby protests in front of the Jefferson County courthouse as same-sex couples wait for the doors to open so they can be legally married Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP File/Hal Yeager)

James Dansby protests in front of the Jefferson County courthouse as same-sex couples wait for the doors to open so they can be legally married Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP File/Hal Yeager)

Alabama has been the state most willing to punch back against federal courts on the question of same-sex marriage.

Ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could nationalize the practice, lawmakers there are looking at more of a bob-and-weave strategy.Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political Insider Blog

From Brian Lyman at the Montgomery Advertiser:

A Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday that would get rid of the license requirement for couples seeking to marry.

Although the bill does not explicitly address the issue, Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, the bill’s sponsor, told Senate Judiciary Committee members that the bill was a reaction to the standoff between a federal court and the Alabama Supreme Court over the legal status of same-sex marriage. Albritton described it as a way of “bringing order out of chaos.”

“It does not change standing law in Alabama, whatever the law may be,” Albritton said. “If the law should change in another couple of months or stand, the procedure is the same.”

One conservative school of thought is that government should get out of the marriage game altogether. We’ll see if this catches on.

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Rubio funderBefore he heads to Athens to woo the Georgia GOP, presidential hopeful Marco Rubio plans to rake in some dough in Atlanta. According to an invite sent our way, $1,000 gets you into lunch with the Florida U.S. Senator, and the maximum $2,700 per person makes you a host and ensures you get a photo with the man himself.

We’re told that the Georgians volunteering to help Rubio include Josh Mackey, Jason Anavitarte, Seth Millican, Caitlyn Cooper and Mitch Hunter. They are trying to organize for him in the Peach State and get small donors together, while Jim Rubright is the big-money guy.

Millican directs the Georgia Transportation Alliance, the Georgia Chamber-backed advocacy group that successfully fought for this year’s tax hike for infrastructure improvement.

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Somewhere buried in the slew of bills Gov. Nathan Deal is vetting is a proposal that redraws the lines of about a dozen House districts.

House Bill 566 swept through the House with not a single dissenting vote, but it had to survive stiff opposition from Democrats in the Senate who worried it would dilute the voting strength of minorities.

At the heart of the issue are land swaps between Atlanta districts represented by Margaret Kaiser and Keisha Waites. Both are Atlanta Democrats who represent fast-changing areas.

Census data compiled by state Sen. Vincent Fort’s office show the black voting-age population in Kaiser’s district would fall from about 57 percent to 51 percent, while the proportion in Waites’ district would rise from 67 to 73 percent. Kaiser intends to run for mayor in 2017, and her seat will be up for grabs next year.

The second swap under scrutiny is one between two Gwinnett districts now held by Republicans Chuck Efstration and Joyce Chandler. The Census figures show that the percentage of voting-age blacks in Efstration’s district would inch upwards from about 20 to 22 percent black, while Chandler’s dips from 34 to 32 percent.

Democrats see potential to challenge Chandler, who defeated a Democratic challenger by a scant 800 votes in November.

Expect to hear more from Fort on this at a Thursday press conference where he’ll urge the governor to think twice about signing the bill.

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Gov. Nathan Deal gave his most extensive defense yet of language in the recently-passed transportation bill that ends a 10-year-old tax break on aviation fuel that’s worth about $23 million a year.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart and several of his allies pitched the move as a revenge of sorts to Delta Air Lines, whose chief executive Richard Anderson was one of the loudest advocates of the push to raise nearly $1 billion for transportation improvements.

“Every time he opens his mouth, he makes my job easy,” Ehrhart said amid this winter’s debate.

Deal, however, tried to take any notion of a vindictive Legislature out of the equation.

Said the governor:

“The Legislature took that one cent off to try to help Delta, but when you’re making billions of dollars in profit, you’re not in that same category. To simply restore it in the good times and take it away in the hard times, I think that is not punitive. That is one of the things that the state has authority to do.”

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U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, has been tapped to join the House GOP leadership’s whip team. From a press release on the subject:

As Deputy Whip, Carter will be charged with assisting Scalise and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (NC-10) with managing and building support for legislation on the floor. It also provides him with a key perch from which to influence the legislative process and advocate for issues of importance to Georgia and the First District.

“I am honored and excited that Whip Scalise has asked me to join the whip team,” Carter said. “I hope to unify the Republican Conference in support of conservative efforts to promote economic growth and job creation, reduce overly-burdensome federal regulations, repeal and replace Obamacare, secure our border, promote energy independence, and reform our antiquated tax code. Together we will deliver the results the American people are yearning for and leave our country better off for the next generation.”

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County, is also on the whip team. Carter will likely be of use to leaders in helping to wrangle the freshman class.

It’s a telling move for Carter to seek the post — and publicize that he got it. Scalise’s office does not put out a list of whip team members, who are welcome to announce it on their own or not, lest they be accused back home of being too cozy with leadership.

Carter’s approach — and his district — is different from fellow newcomers Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, and Jody Hice, R-Monroe, who joined the House Freedom Caucus, intended as a conservative counterweight to leadership’s wishes.

Carter fought off a more tea party-aligned foe in a runoff for Jack Kingston’s seat and already has the conservative Club for Growth going after him on TV over the Export-Import Bank.

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Speaking of Hice, he is set to get an amendment vote on the House floor today to a veterans spending bill that would prevent the government for paying employees for hours when they are conducting union business. Heritage Action is pushing the measure.

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U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., is getting some heat on the right for the Iran nuclear bill making its way through the Senate this week.

Perdue was one of eight Republicans to vote against an amendment that would have required a certification that Iran has not supported an act of terrorism against Americans anywhere in the world, before any sanctions can be lifted.

Here’s what radio host Mark Levin had to say:

“For these eight senators, for these eight men, this will always be on your political epitaph, that you cannot even vote in defense of your own country. I don’t care if you served before or not, you’re not serving today. That’s clear.

“That you would not even vote to hold Iran to a standard that every American would expect. No, we do not lift sanctions. We do not lift sanctions unless the United States government can certify that you have not carried out any acts of terrorism against the United States or the American people anywhere on the globe.”

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who’s running for re-election next year, supported the amendment.

The reason Perdue and allies like Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., voted against the amendment was in order to hold together a delicately managed bipartisan, veto-proof deal to allow Congress to weigh in on the Iran deal if and when it’s signed. But Obama would still have most of the cards and be able to veto any measure Congress passes to kill the deal.

Now that he’s given his maiden speech and is free to take the floor, Perdue spoke Wednesday about the deal and alluded to why he would oppose controversial amendments:

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which I am a member, did all that we could to ensure that the American people, by way of Congress, get a say in this deal.

“If we let the perfect become the enemy of the good, however, and fail to pass this bill, the President will be able to go ahead and implement any and all aspects of a nuclear deal with Iran.

“This bill prevents the President from having a totally free hand with regard to this potential deal with Iran, and from prematurely lifting sanctions.”

Another tough vote could await: An amendment by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to require Iran recognize Israel.

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Newt Gingrich plus self-driving Google car? Yes, it’s worth a click.


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