Some of them are the upperclassmen.
They've been there before. They've gone through this in the past.
Others are the freshmen.
They're learning the ropes and getting lessons on how lawmaking is done.
It's all part of orientation for the new Alabama Legislature. A series of classes is underway for lawmakers at the University of Alabama Law School in Tuscaloosa.
Sessions wrap up Wednesday afternoon. Lawmakers will then go directly from the UA campus to Montgomery to convene for a special session.
Republican Governor Bob Riley called for the session as his final attempt to see ethics reform legislation approved before he leaves office in January. Some legislators, including Democrats and Republicans, question the timing of the session. They wonder why the bills cannot wait until their next regularly-scheduled session. But there seems to be broad support for the general idea of ethics reform.
For example, one bill seeks to strictly limit the amount of money lobbyists and others can spend on state lawmakers and employees. Some contend the tough new law actually isn't tough enough.
"I don't think that all of the bills go deep enough," Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham, said. "There is a 25-dollar cap for lobbyists. I think we might as well zero that out."
"In addition to that, on the particular bill that talks about legislators not having the opportunity to have state jobs, why limit it to state jobs?" Coleman asked. "Why not other municipalities? Or why not local government?"
In addition to state jobs, the bill to which Coleman was referring also prohibits legislators from working for a public school system. John Merrill, an incoming Republican representative from Tuscaloosa County, is a long-time employee of the Tuscaloosa County School System. He said he supports the proposed bill, and he is about to leave his job with the school system.
"I turned in my notice to resign in June of 2010 after I won the primary, and that's effective December 31st, 2010," Merrill said. "So one of the things that I'm trying to do now is to find another job to compliment the legislative work that I'm going to be doing."
Merrill said he had some questions about how certain bills were structured. He and others made it seem as though the bills would not be rubber-stamped into approval. But they still support the overall goal of the reform package.
"Unless we give the kind of attention that's necessary to improve accountability and transparency in government, the people in our state are going to continue to distrust the leaders that are in Montgomery," Merrill said. "We've got to start correcting that, and the best way to start doing it is on Wednesday at four o'clock."
"The only opposition I'm hearing from my district is, 'Do we need a special session now, or should we wait until the spring?'" said freshman Senator Slade Blackwell, R-Mountain Brook.
Even so, Blackwell expressed overall support for the ethics legislation, particularly a bill that would ban political action committees from hiding sources of political money by transferring that money from PAC to PAC.
"When you do that, you lose the transparency of where the money's coming from," Blackwell said. "And so what this will do is put a limit to those PAC-to-PAC transfers, which will allow the public, you and I, to determine where the money is coming from, which everybody needs to know."
To read the official announcement of the special session and to find links to each of the bills in their entirety, click here: http://www.governorpress.state.al.us/pr/pr-2010-12-01-01-special_session_2010.asp
The public has a chance to comment directly to lawmakers at a public hearing on the bills Wednesday evening. The hearing is set for 6:00 p.m. in the Old House Chambers at the State Capitol. The hearing is scheduled to continue until 10:00 p.m. and will resume Thursday morning if needed.