MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A racial profiling bill – a top priority of African-American lawmakers this year – died on the last day of the Alabama legislative session Thursday when it did not get a vote in the House.
The bill – approved unanimously by the Alabama Senate – stalled in the House due to Republican opposition. The Legislature adjourned Thursday without voting on the bill, effectively killing a bill that would have required police to compile data on the reasons for traffic stops and the races of the motorist who was stopped. The purpose was to determine whether police are unfairly targeting black motorists when they decide to pull vehicles over.
Sen. Rodger Smitherman, a Birmingham Democrat who sponsored the bill, said failure to act on the measure was “a very big disappointment.”
“We can’t debate it and vote on it? That’s all I asked them to do,” he said.
The measure called on law enforcement officers to keep data on traffic stops, the reasons for them, and the race of stopped motorists.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, a former police officer, said Thursday that the bill failed under a mix of opposition and time constraints at the end of the session.
“I worked very hard to get that bill on the floor,” McCutcheon said. “There was never any orchestrating or maneuvering to not bring that bill up.”
The bill hit its first roadblock in the Alabama House last week when all but five Republicans voted against a procedural motion needed to debate the bill. The House Rules Committee placed the bill on the debate schedule for a second time Wednesday, but lawmakers adjourned in the evening before getting to it.
McCutcheon said the bill, which needed to return to the Senate if passed by the House, could not reach passage Thursday after senators announced they planned to adjourn after they approved the education budget.
McCutcheon said he had worked to get enough Republicans to agree to debate the bill, but was unsure if it the votes were there to pass it.
“I really think there was a concerted effort for it to die, that actually there was a plan all of the time for it to never come up. We had promises over and over again,” Rep. Merika Coleman, a Pleasant Grove Democrat, said as she expressed frustration at the legislation’s demise. The bill also died last year after not getting a House vote.