When the Alabama Senate convenes next month, Democrats will have a new minority leader representing them.
In an agreement made two years ago, Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, is being replaced by Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile.
"We have a wealth of talent on our side and I think it provides opportunity for others to step up," Bedford said. "It gives us good, experienced leaders going into the future."
Figures, a lawmaker since 1997, is the first female majority or minority leader in either chamber of the Legislature.
"It is an honor not only for me, but for all women in the state of Alabama," said Figures, who is known for leading a successful effort to ban smoking in the Statehouse. For several years, she has carried a bill known as the Smoke-Free Air Act that would limit where Alabamians can smoke, including in places of employment, private clubs and public areas.
As Senate Minority Leader, Figures will work with the Republican leadership on a weekly basis.
But Bedford said he'll still be heard from on the Senate floor.
"I haven't ever needed a title to go to the microphone," he said. "I will continue to be an advocate on issues that I think are important to my district and the state as a whole."
State Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is introducing legislation that would consolidate Alabama's more than 20 law enforcement and investigative agencies into seven.
The proposal is one Marsh, Senate president pro tem, has been studying for the better part of a year. He said it could save the state up to $260 million during a 10-year span.
"This proposal, like many others we'll take up this session, will fundamentally change the landscape of state government, and we know that won't be easy," Marsh said in a statement. "But we owe it to the taxpayers to move heaven and earth on their behalf to make sure we're living within our means."
Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, is a co-sponsor on the proposed legislation.
On Tuesday, Gov. Robert Bentley will hold a news conference to discuss possible efficiencies in law enforcement. He is also expected to sign an executive order creating a "senior law enforcement advisor" position and appointing Spencer Collier, a former lawmaker and current Alabama Department of Homeland Security director, to it.
According to a news release from Bentley's office, Collier will coordinate "efforts to streamline state-level law enforcement functions."
Marsh told this newspaper last week that efficiency measures like the law enforcement consolidation plan will be a priority in the 2013 legislative session that starts Feb. 5.
He also said that because the proposed consolidations will take several years to implement, any job reductions will be achieved through attrition.
Mary Sell covers state government for the TimesDaily. She can be reached at mary.sell@TimesDaily.com.