Alabama GOP Racks Up Victories

Bills emerging from the Alabama Legislature in the last few days underscore the overwhelming power that Republicans - in total control of state government for the first time since Reconstruction - have exercised in Montgomery this year.

On Thursday (June 9), the last day of the 2011 legislative session, Governor Robert Bentley signed the nation's toughest immigration bill into law. The law, which takes effect September 1, will require schools to determine whether students are in the country illegally and makes it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride, The Associated Press reports .

"We have a real problem with illegal immigration in this country," Bentley said. "I campaigned for the toughest immigration laws, and I'm proud of the Legislature for working tirelessly to create the strongest immigration bill in the country."

But the immigration crackdown is just one of many legislative priorities that the newly Republican Legislature was able to send to Bentley.

Lawmakers also passed legislation requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls , a proposal that has found success in other Republican-led states this year - including Kansas, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin - but which Democrats criticize as an attempt to disenfranchise poor and minority voters.

Additionally, Alabama Republicans set up a statewide vote allowing residents and businesses to opt out of the Obama administration's health care overhaul , and banned abortions for women pregnant 20 weeks or longer. Both bills cleared the Legislature over the objections of the Democratic minority.

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