The Senate failed Thursday to approve Sen. Bob Ballinger’s bill that would open the door to reopening all alimony cases and allow a judge to call an end to permanent alimony awards.

The bill nominally aims to put further in place “rehabilitative alimony” — awards for support for spouses until they can train themselves or find work sufficient for support, perhaps after having a role in a marriage where they weren’t main breadwinners.

Ballinger said protections had been written into the law at the suggestion of judges to leave judges with discretion to extend alimony awards. He got strong pushback from women senators, including Sen. Joyce Elliott who observed that the facts were that most alimony went to women. She wondered who or what was the impetus for the law.

A key question was raised by Sen. Will Bond.  SB 147 says the bill was a “material change of circumstance” that would allow a court to modify any past alimony order, not just a new case.

That seemed to give several senators pause. In the roll call, the vote was 13-12, with nine not voting and 18 votes needed for passage. Ballinger had the vote expunged, which means it can get another vote. Roll call will be here in time.