Just like the last big Republican mega-wave of 1994, the election of 2010 has been followed by a series of low-level party switches among remaining conservative Southern Democrats. And in Alabama, where the GOP gained majorities in both houses of the state legislature, the latest round of switching has had an extra special effect.
As the Montgomery Advertiser reports, the switches of four conservative Dem state representatives to the Republican Party this past Monday has given the GOP 66 seats out of 105 in the House. As it turns out, both houses of the Alabama legislature have rules that allow for the minority to force procedural delays similar to the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And these Dems have gotten the GOP right there to the three-fifths majority necessary to force cloture, along with the cloture-ready majority they also achieved in the Senate.
The incoming Republican Speaker Mike Hubbard said that the party will maintain unity on those key procedural votes, thus using their supermajority to its fullest:
He said they will require Republicans to vote in a bloc to bring up legislation that is on the caucus’s agenda, but “we never tell a member how to vote on final passage.” He said it is important for the caucus to stand together on issues important to the members.”