Legendary State Senator Jimmy Holley has decided not to run for the State Senate next year after 44 years in the legislature. He will be missed in the State Senate. Over the past decade, Holley has become a mentor and confidante to new state senators, especially the freshman class members of this quadrennium. Senator Will Barfoot, R-Pike Road, has told me more than once that he relies on Holley’s wisdom and experience on a daily basis.
Holley is generally considered to be the most knowledgeable person in the Senate when it comes to parliamentary procedure and Senate rules. Others like Senator Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, were mentored by Holley. In fact, at the start of each quadrennium there was a clamor and struggle to seek the seat next to Holley by the members so that they could learn the intricacies of Senate rules and bring together her institutional knowledge and wisdom.
Holley has been my close friend for 40 years. We served together and sat next to each other for 16 years in the House of Representatives. We represented neighboring counties. I have never seen a more diligent and competent lawmaker.
When his hometown of Elba lost their schools to the floods, I saw Holley fight on his own and get additional funds from the Special Education Trust Fund budget to build new schools for them. . Years later, when a tornado destroyed Enterprise High School, which was and is the largest high school in his district, he secured state funding to build a new state-of-the-art high school for Enterprise.
Jimmy would work to be a good and knowledgeable legislator. When most lawmakers simply showed up to vote and took advantage of the nightly social events hosted by lobbyists and associations, Jimmy would return to his hotel room and study the legislation and refine the rules.
One day Holley and I were sitting at our desks working on a myriad of laws made by the Rules Committee, I looked at the calendar and didn’t know of an impending bill on three less bills. on today’s agenda. I asked Jimmy about a certain bill. He calmly told me all about the bill and told me that I was probably not going to vote for it since it was a litigation lawyer bill. He knew my pro-business propensity. It occurred to me that he had read the entire bill as well as all the calendar bills the day before in his hotel room.
Jimmy was born and raised in Elba, Coffee County and has lived there his entire life, except for the four years he attended the University of Tennessee, where he incidentally met his lovely wife, Mary. Jimmy and Mary have two successful beautiful sons. They all live close to Jimmy and Mary, so they got to watch their grandchildren grow up and attend all of their football games and school events. They have a wonderful family life. However, even though Jimmy is only 77, he has had some health issues. He will be sadly missed by the state and primarily his four-county Senate district.
Holley has spent more than half of his life as a lawmaker. He is in his sixth term in the Senate and prior to that he served five terms in the State House of Representatives. He currently chairs the Senate Government Affairs Committee and served on the Legislative Council. Its district includes Coffee, Covington and Pike counties and the northern part of Dale County.
Pro Senate Speaker Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) summed up Holley’s departure well. He said, “Senator Jimmy Holley is an institution in the Alabama Senate and our bodies will not be the same without him. I further appreciate the decades of service he has rendered to his district and to our state during his long term in the Senate, and I am grateful for the wisdom and experience he has shared with our members.
Jimmy Holley has a place in Alabama political history as one of the legendary lawmakers of all time.