By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Most of the Alabama members of the Alabama House of Representatives are straight, male, Republican men. But, that is not deterring the only gay, female, Democrat from declaring her candidacy to be the next Speaker of the House. Not only has State Representative Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) publicly announced her candidacy, she has a list of twelve campaign promises for her House colleagues, if they come together to make her the first openly gay Speaker in the history of the Alabama House.
Todd is promising that she will, “Allow members to submit revisions to the rules of the House.” Todd is also promising to make lobbyists acknowledge who they represent when talking with a House member. She even suggested that, “Maybe they should wear a list of clients on their name tags!”
Todd promises that under her Speakership, “Committee members will decide bills to consider, not the Speaker.” Todd is promising to post her meeting schedule publicly on the website. Speaker Hubbard, by contrast, met weekly with BCA President Billy Canary and a handful of other lobbyists weekly during the legislative session, to determine what he would or would not allow the members to do.
Todd is promising to, “Meet with representatives from both sides of an issue at the same time” and to “Have weekly lunch meetings with all members to discuss issues before the house. Now each party hosts a weekly lunch meeting separately.” Todd also promised to provide a live video stream of House deliberations and archive each day.
Todd is also promising to: “Link the Statement of Economic Interest forms to the House member web page;” require that the “Rules committee would advertise bills on the calendar at least 5 business days prior to consideration on website;” “Designate a space for constituents to meet with their representatives just outside the Chamber;” “Require fiscal accountability for all revenue bills;” and “Review best practices from other states on policy and share information with all members.”
After Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) was found guilty on 12 counts of felony ethics violations, Rep. Todd said, “We will elect a new Speaker now. Time for new leadership with the people of Alabama as a priority.”
Todd’s position with the gay rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), has been questioned by some critics since the group does lobby the legislature for LGBTQ people. The Alabama Ethics Commission has issued a letter affirming that the practice is not a violation of the tough new 2010 ethics law.
By rule, Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston (R-Mobile) became Speaker of the House upon disgraced Speaker Mike Hubbard’s guilty verdict in Lee County on June 10. Gaston is not expected to remain Speaker for an extended period of time.