The Alabama State Senate is composed of 35 Senators, in keeping with Article IV, Section 50, of the Constitution, which limits the House of Representatives at 105 members, and the Senate at 35, and with Article IX, Sections 197 and 198, which establishes membership in the Senate at not less than one-fourth, nor more than one-third, the total membership of the House of Representatives, and allows for additional representation in the event new counties are created. Thus, the Alabama Senate is precisely one-third the size of the House of Representatives, and each Senator represents a district of approximately 137,000 Alabamians.
Under Article IV, Section 47, of the Constitution, Senators must be at least 25 years of age at the time of their election, must be citizens and residents of the State of Alabama for at least 3 years, and residents of their district at least one year, prior to election.
Senators, as well as Members of the House of Representatives, are elected for four-year terms, and take office at midnight of the day of their election. Amendment 97, to the Constitution, provides that should a vacancy occur in either house of the Legislature, the governor is required to call a special election to fill such vacancy.
The salary of legislators is fixed by the Constitution at $10.00 per day, plus expenses in an amount fixed by the Legislature. A travel allowance of $.10 per mile from the member's home to the Capitol and return is paid once for each legislative session.
The current allowance for expenses is $50.00 per diem for three days during each week that the Legislature actually meets during any regular session, special session or organizational session, and $4,174.00 per month expenses year round, with a cost-of-living increase each April 1st.
Each member is also paid $50.00 per diem for the performance of his or her duties as a member of any duly authorized interim legislative committee or subcommittee thereof, conditional upon actual attendance, and 51 cents per mile for one round trip per week of actual attendance at such interim committee meetings. Standing Committees may meet between legislative sessions and are paid for these meetings in the same manner as state employees are reimbursed for travel. Legislators are not paid a salary year round, contrary to what many people think; they are paid a salary only during a legislative session.
While the House of Representatives has exclusive power to originate revenue bills, such legislation can be amended and/or substituted by the Senate. Moreover, because the Senate is considered to be the "deliberative body", rules concerning length of debate are more liberal than those of the House of Representatives.
Like the United States Senate, the Alabama Senate has sole power of Confirmation of certain appointees designated by the Constitution and by statute. The legislative antecedent of this role is a similar power vested in the Roman Senate, during the period of the Republic.
The Senate Seal features an open book and torch, accompanied by the Latin phrase Libertas Per Lege, meaning "Liberty Through Law". The official Seal of the Senate was adopted by Senate Resolution, August 19, 1965, and was created by a special committee consisting of then Senators John Tyson (Mobile), Vaughan Hill Robison (Montgomery), Bill Nichols (Talladega), Lieutenant Governor Jim Allen and Secretary of the Senate McDowell Lee.
The Lieutenant Governor of Alabama is ex officio President of the Senate, as provided under Article V, Section 117 of the Constitution, and is considered an officer of the Executive Branch under Article V, Section 112. The Lieutenant Governor is elected, by statewide vote, every four years, and must be at least 30 years of age, when elected, and must have been a citizen of the United States for 10 years, and a resident citizen of the State of Alabama for 7 years, prior to election. The Lieutenant Governor can vote, on any matter before the Senate, only to break a tie vote. The Senate may, by Rule, grant other powers to the Lieutenant Governor, in his/her capacity as President of the Senate.
The Office of Lieutenant Governor was first created by the Constitution of 1868, then revived in the Constitution of 1901. The Constitution of 1819, Constitution of 1861, Constitution of 1865 and Constitution of 1875, each provided that the Senate elect its own President, in like manner as the Speaker of the House of Representatives is elected.
The President Pro Tempore (Latin, "For A Time"), of the Senate, is elected, during each Organizational Session, from the ranks of the Senators to serve in the event of absence of the President of the Senate, as outlined in Article IV, Section 51, of the Constitution. This section also provides that, in the event the office of President Pro Tempore is vacant, the Senate shall hold an election for a successor. In the event there is no Lieutenant Governor or President Pro Tempore to preside and organize the Senate (Organizational Sessions), the Secretary of the Senate shall call the Senate to order, accept certificates of election of the Senators, and preside over the election of a President Pro Tempore.
For further information regarding the history of the Alabama Senate, contact:
Senate Research Director
Office of the Secretary of the Senate
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
For further links to the Alabama Senate, go to Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Legislative Process, and Past Presidents And Secretaries Of The Alabama Senate.