Huntsville, AL (WAFF) - The Alabama Legislature returns to action next month, but there are already several high-profile bills waiting to be discussed.
We sat down with State Representative Mac McCutcheon to get his thoughts on some of the topics that'll be trending in Montgomery this spring.
Last week, WAFF told you about a bill pre-filed by Marshall County Representative Kerry Rich, that would allow teachers and school administrators to carry weapons into schools. Some other lawmakers are unsure about the bill, and the former Huntsville Police Officer has his reservations as well.
McCutcheon says he hasn't read Rich's bill in it's entirety yet, so he can't comment on it specifically. However, he does have an opinion on the larger issue at hand - "I think it's not necessarily a bad idea, but it something we need to think through." McCutcheon says training is key - not just target practice, but practical applications of when and how to use the weapon. "There's things like 'shoot don't shoot', situations where it's life-threatening or not life-threatening, presence of mind.. All of these things come in when you're training a police officer. It's more than just picking up a firearm and shooting it."
McCutcheon doesn't discount the idea of having someone armed at schools, saying that making them "gun free zones" makes them targets for disturbed individuals who want to harm children. "I think it's something we really need to step back, take a serious look at, talk to our educators and look at. My personal preference would be trained law enforcement within our schools systems, increase our security measures. A lot of educators I've talked to, they don't want to be armed guards. That's not why they went into the field."
The other things everyone has their eyes on heading into 2013 are the Education and General Fund Budgets.
In 2012, both budgets were put off until the very final day of the regular session in May. McCutcheon doesn't want that to happen again. "We want to address our budgets early" McCutheon said. "We only have so much revenue to work with. We'll look at keeping services going, but Medicaid is going to be the big gorilla -if you will- out there we'll have to deal with. Health care and the cost of that, that was one of the primary reasons we went into the trust fund and proposed that bill, because we had to have a cushion." McCutcheon said, referring to a controversial state-wide vote last fall that saw voters approve a $437 million loan from the Rainy Day Fund to keep agencies running. McCutheon promises more cost-cutting measures in 2013, hoping to eliminate duplicate services and improve efficiency without raising taxes.