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Sen. Sanders looks back at final legislative session

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

Alabama Sen. Hank Sanders completed his final legislative session of his 35-year career, with the cycle ending last Thursday, March 29.

Although Sanders is hanging it up, he feels he can walk away proud of his accomplishments from both his entire career and during his last term in the Alabama Legislature, which has been labeled as one of the most productive sessions in recent memory by some legislators.

During the last session, Sanders was pleased to support and be involved in the process of passing an education budget with more money available for salaries and security.

Before the term began, Sanders noted that the Education Trust Fund “falls short.” Now, Alabamians on both side of the aisle were able to get behind the new budget.

Sanders wanted to be as involved during the session as he possibly could, sponsoring and supporting numerous bills. This includes his sponsorship of Senate Bill 257, which regulates interest rates for those wishing to redeem their property lost to the state due to defaults.

Previously, residents could fall victim to multiple or high interest charges in order to redeem their property, financially crippling them from being able to reclaim what was theirs.

Under Sanders’ 2018 bill, residents would be charged an interest rate related to their debt owed at the time of the default, which would help residents regain their property.

“The way it was set up, too many people were losing their property,” Sanders said. “I wanted to help people retain their property, so I introduced the bill and it passed in the senate and passed in the house.”

Other bills and actions supported by Sanders include his introduction of legislation that would change parental rights as it relates to rape. Under the bill, a man who commits rape would forfeit all parental rights to a child conceived in relation to the rape.

The bill passed the senate, but did not pass the house.

Sanders also wanted to ban “weapons of war,” such as machine guns, but did not catch any headway with the initiative.

“It would not even be considered, but I wanted to ban weapons of war such as the AR-15, which has been used in these mass killings,” Sanders said. “It didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t expect it go anywhere, but I felt it was the right thing to do.”

Despite his heavy involvement during his last session, those who work with him say he has always been that motivated.

Rep. Prince Chestnut, who just completed his first full session, admired at Sanders’ work ethic.

“One thing that I noticed with him is he sponsored a lot of legislation. He was a very active senator,” Chestnut said. “He was a prolific senator who wielded a big stick.”

With the work of Sanders’ tenure complete, he now has more time to spend with family, which he said was a large motivating factor in the decision.

Even with Sanders not able to achieve everything he had hope during his last run, he made it clear he feels he did the best he can do, and wants it known that he will be available for whoever replaces him.