House delays vote on bill to track race in traffic stops
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama House of Representatives did not vote Tuesday on anti-racial profiling legislation, ratcheting up the stakes on what could be the final day of the legislative session.
Lawmakers adjourned Tuesday to continue negotiations on the bill that would require police officers to record the race of stopped motorists and why they stopped the person. That sets up a potential vote Wednesday — what legislative leaders planned to be the final day of the session — with a number of other proposals potentially stuck behind a threatened filibuster.
Republicans in the House of Representatives last week blocked a vote on the bill — that had passed the Senate unanimously — and been named a priority by the Legislative Black Caucus. In response, some African-American lawmakers, including the bill’s sponsor, have said they will filibuster, if needed, until the bill gets a vote.
“The bill passed up here 27 to zero,” Sen. Rodger Smitherman, the bill’s sponsor, said of the Senate vote.
A number of bills could be delayed, or blocked, in the standoff, including a final vote on the state education budget and an ethics law revision sought by the state’s top industry recruiter.
“All of this is about identifying bad actors. This is not about being punitive to those wonderful, great police officers that take that oath to protect and serve. This is just about trying to identify those folks who are using race as the only determining factor to make a stop,” Rep. Merika Coleman, a Democrat from Pleasant Grove, said.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, a former police officer, urged negotiations in the effort to ease tensions and prevent a legislative logjam.
“We’re working through it,” McCutcheon said after meetings on the bill.
Coleman said some opponents do not want to collect the data on race, but she said that is the heart of the bill.
Coleman said African Americans are not the only motorists who can be racially profiled, noting that white drivers might get stopped while driving through a minority neighborhood.
“We want to set up some type of deterrent for folks who are literally stopping people just because of the color of their skin or how they look. Because they have a baseball hat turned backward or have dreadlocks or have a long beard and a lot of tattoos,” Coleman said.