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Week Five Legislative Report: A third of the Regular Session is done

Beth Lyons

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By Beth Marietta Lyons
Lyons Law Firm

The Alabama Legislature convened for day 9 of the annual Regular Session on Tuesday, February 6 with 28 committee meetings held throughout the week to consider legislation. Both Houses then convened on Thursday, February 8 for Day 10.

With day 10 completed, one-third of the 30 day Annual Regular Session has been completed. There have been 699 bills introduced to date.

The Legislature will return to Montgomery on Tuesday, February 13 for day 11 of the Session with the House and Senate convening at 2:00 p.m. Sixteen committees have scheduled meetings as of the time of this report.

Significant Introductions This Week:

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A bill was introduced in the House that would authorize the State Fire Marshal to regulate and issue pyrotechnic display operator licenses and pyrotechnic special effects operator licenses to persons who provide fireworks displays, pyrotechnics, and related special effects to an audience. The bill is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [HB376 by Representative Barbara Drummond].

A bill was introduced in the House that would increase the fees collected by the State Fire Marshal for issuing permits in the regulation of the manufacturing, sale, and display of fireworks and for the use of pyrotechnics in close proximity to an audience, and provide for the distribution of the fee. The bill is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [HB382 by Representative Craig Ford].

A bill was introduced in the House that would provide that the markup of alcoholic beverages sold by the ABC Board may only be increased by a law enacted by the Legislature. The bill is pending in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee [HB380 by Representative Arnold Mooney].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would authorize the storage, selling, and dispensing of certain agricultural products by weight through vending machines. The bill in pending in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee [SB282 by Senator Tom Whatley].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would allow the Commissioner of Revenue to reimburse the Attorney General or district attorney for costs of actions, proceedings, and prosecutions associated with violations of tax laws. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee [SB286 by Senator Greg Albritton].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment was introduced in the Senate that would include appropriations for public postsecondary education and public instititions of higher education, and terminate any dedication of taxes and revenues for special purposes. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee [SB292 by Senator Bill Hightower].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would add roasted coffees to the list of in-home cottage food production that are exempt from regulation by the State Department of Health and county health departments. The bill is pending in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee [SB297 by Senator Rusty Glover].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would require the ABC Board to phase out retail sales of alcoholic beverages by the Board by October 1, 2023. The bill is pending in the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee [SB298 by Senator Arthur Orr].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would, over a 4 year period, incrementally increase state sales and use tax on non-food items and decrease state sales and use tax on food items. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee [SB299 by Senator Gerald Dial].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require each local board of education to establish a local school calendar providing 1,050 instructional hours, instead of 180 instructional days, beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The bill is pending in the House Education Policy Committee [HB396 by Representative Craig Ford].

A bill was introduced in the House that would prohibit elected state officials from placing his or her likeness on materials, publications and advertising media produced using appropriated federal, state or local funds unless prohibited by federal law. The bill is pending in the House Governmental Affairs Committee [SB285 by Senator Greg Albritton].

A bill was introduced in both Houses that would require all county superintendents be appointed by the county board of education, except as otherwise provided by the Alabama Constitution [HB389 by Representative Steve McMillan and SB280 by Senator Dick Brewbaker].

Significant Committee Action This Week:

The House Ways and Means Education Committee held a public hearing and gave a favorable report to the $6.63 billion Education Trust Fund Budget which includes funds for a 2.5% increase for K-12 employees, 197 additional middle school teachers, a $20 million increase for Pre-K, a $16 million increase for community colleges, a $27 million increase for 4 year colleges, and a $450,000 increase for public libraries. The bill now goes to the full House [HB175 by Representative Bill Poole].

The House Boards, Agencies and Commissions Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a Sunset bill that would extend the State Pilotage Commission until Octover 1, 2020. An amendment was adopted which removed a Senate amendment to increase the commission from 3 members to 4. The bill now goes to the full House [SB74 by Senator Paul Bussman].

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would prohibit municipalities from regulating transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft) and provide for permitting and licensing by the Public Service Commission. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB190 by Representative David Faulkner].

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would provide for a wine direct shipper license to allow for shipment of limited quantities of wine directly to Alabama residents for personal use [SB243 by Senator Bill Holtzclaw].

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a House bill that would substantially revise the provisions governing the operation of the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. The bill is now goes to the full Senate [HB131 by Representative Chris Pringle].

The Senate Government Affairs Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a House bill that would require the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue to convene the first meeting of the Alabama Land Bank Authority Board and allow the Board to obtain the state’s interest in real property acquired as a result of its sale for delinquent state taxes and retained in the state’s inventory for a period of five or more years. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB54 by Representative Ron Johnson].

The House Health Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a bill that would require abortion providers to refund fees paid for an abortion if the woman withdraws her consent before the abortion is performed. The bill now goes to the full House [HB52 by Representative Kerry Rich].

The House Health Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a Senate bill that would add Fentanyl and synthetic Fentanyl analogues to Schedule I of the controlled substances list and provide criminal penalties for trafficking of these drugs [SB39 by Senator Cam Ward].

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would set the term of all deferred presentment transactions (payday loans) at 30 calendar days [SB138 by Senator Arthur Orr].

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee gave favorable reports to two bills that would extend the nursing facility privilege assessment and private hospital assessment that help fund Medicaid for a period of 1 year. The bills now go to the full House [HB321 and HB322 by Representative Steve Clouse].

The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would allow qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry firearms in certain designated places where firearms are otherwise not allowed. The bill now goes to the full House [SB27 by Senator Jimmy Holley].

The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would require persons approved for a pretrial diversion program to have an ignition interlock device installed for a certain period of time and provide for distribution of court fees. The bill now goes to the full House [SB1 by Senator Jim McClendon].

The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would provide procedures for the disposal of abandoned or derelict vessels. The bill now goes to the full House [SB50 by Senator Trip Pittman].

The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would require vehicles to use lighted headlamps from sunset to sunrise instead of from a half hour after sunset to a half our before sunrise. The bill now goes to the full House [HB333 by Representative Ritchie Whorton].

The House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would establish the Alabama Infrastructure Bank to provide for the appropriation and pledge of certain tax revenues, motor vehicle license taxes and registration fees, diesel fuel tax revenues, and motor carrier tax revenues. The bill now goes to the full House [SB100 by Senator Arthur Orr].

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would require commercial food service establishments that utilize grease traps to provide locking manhole covers or otherwise secure the covers against unauthorized access. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB258 by Senator Tom Whatley].

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would provide that a party desiring to redeem property sold to the state for unpaid taxes would pay interest only on the taxes due at the time of default. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB257 by Senator Hank Sanders].

The House Judiciary Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would authorize a municipal court judge to remit court costs where it is determined a defendant cannot afford to pay the full amount and remove the authority of a mayor to commute sentences. The bill now goes to the full House [HB338 by Representative Chris England].

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would establish procedures by which the state Medicaid Agency could place a lien on the real property of a recipient or file a claim against the estate of a deceased recipient. The bill now goes to the full House [SB93 by Senator Arthur Orr].

The House County and Municipal Government Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would revise the tax lien sale procedures for counties to authorize tax liens to be sold at auction to the bidder with the lowest interest rate. The bill now goes to the full House [HB354 by Representative Corey Ellis].

The House State Government Committee held a public hearing and gave a favorable report to a bill that would create an exception that would allow the surviving spouse of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, rescue squad member, or certain volunteer firefighters, killed in the line of duty to continue to receive benefits after remarriage, and would extend benefits to a surviving minor child until the age of majority. The bill now goes to the full House [HB192 by Representative Matt Fridy].

The House State Government Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would require the Forever Wild Land Trust to annually reimburse the amount of al valorem tax revenue lost as a result of property previously subject to ad valorem tax being acquired by the Forever Wild Land Trust. The bill now goes to the full House [HB362 by Representative Mark Tuggle].

The Senate Constitution, Ethics and Elections Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would allow displays of the Ten Commandments or other religious displays on state property including public schools. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB181 by Senator Gerald Dial].

Significant Floor Action This Week:

The House passed, following a lengthy debate, a bill that would permit, but not mandate, the use of the national motto “In God We Trust” by government agencies and offices, in and on public buildings, including government office buildings, public school classrooms, and on vehicles. The bill is now pending in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee [HB228 by Representative David Standridge].

The House passed a Senate bill that would revise some of the procedures related to the Alabama Disaster Recovery Program. The bill now goes to the Governor [SB43 by Senator Greg Albritton].

The House passed a bill that would provide that the state salary of an official court reporter would conform to the pay scale established by the State of Alabama Personnel Department Pay Plan for state employees, would establish the specific pay grade and step rate, and would make him or her subject to any cost-of-living and merit raises given to state employees. The bill is now pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee [HB106 by Representative Paul Lee].

The House amended and passed a bill that would allow first-time home buyers to establish a savings account to save funds for a down payment and closing costs for the purchase of a home and provide for a state tax deduction. The bill is now in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee [HB248 by Representative Kyle South].

The Senate passed a bill that would increase the membership of the State Pilotage Commission from 3 to 4 with the 4th member to be a retiree from active duty in certain armed forces or active in the maritime industry. The bill is now pending in the House Boards, Agencies and Commission Committee [SB222 by Senator Trip Pittman].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would allow a municipality to authorize a law enforcement officers to issue a summons and complaint in lieu of custodial arrest for all misdemeanors and violations, with certain exceptions. The bill is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee [SB154 by Senator Tim Melson].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would criminalize the act of recording or attempting to record an image or video of the private, intimate body parts of another person without his or her consent. The bill now goes to the House [SB57 by Senator Clyde Chambliss].

The House passed a bill that would abolish boards, commissions, committees, task forces and authorities that are inactive or inoperable. The bill is now pending in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee [HB22 by Representative Chris Pringle].

The House passed a bill that would provide for the regulation of tagging of oysters and require an annual oyster aquaculture license. The bill is now pending in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee [HB302 by Representative David Sessions].

The Senate passed a bill that would exempt the gross proceeds from the sale of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion from the state sales and use tax for five years. The bill is now pending in the House Ways and Means Education Committee [SB156 by Senator Tim Melson].

The Senate passed a bill that would establish a 12-year or 200,000 mile depreciation schedule for funding for the depreciation in value for school buses. The bill is now pending in the House Ways and Means Education Committee [SB202 by Senator Paul Bussman].

The Senate passed a bill that would require the Department of Revenue to develop and make available a single point of filing and payment system for county and municipal motor fuel taxes, and require the standardization of county and municipal motor fuel taxes. The bill now goes to the House [SB219 by Senator Shay Shelnutt].

The House passed a Senate bill that would increase the time frame required for a teacher to give notice before terminating his or her employment from five to thirty days. The bill now goes to the Governor [SB14 by Senator Gerald Dial].

Budgets:

  • The General Fund Budget, SB178 by Sen. Pittman, is pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee.
  • The Education Trust Fund Budget, HB175 by Rep. Poole, has received a favorable report from the House Ways and Means Education Committee and is pending action by the full House.

Summary:

  • House bills introduced: 400
  • Senate bills introduced: 299
  • Total bills introduced: 699
  • Bills that have passed house of origin: 183
  • Bills that have passed both houses: 30
  • Bills pending the governor’s signature: 15
  • Bills Vetoed: 0
  • Constitutional amendment bills pending referendum: 3
  • Bills enacted: 12

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House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”

Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

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The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.

 

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Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.

The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

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Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

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Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.

Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

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Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

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House OKs bill to clarify consulting contracts by state legislators

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to try to clarify how legislators accept consulting contracts under Alabama’s 2010 ethics law. Some pundits have suggested that House Bill 387 is actually designed to weaken the existing ethics law.

Sponsor state Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, argues that the legislation is merely a clarification and is intended to prevent legislators from inadvertently crossing the line into illegality.

Wingo said that his bill would require legislators to notify the Alabama Ethics Commission that they have entered into a consulting agreement in an area outside of their normal scope of work.

State Rep. Paul Beckman, R-Prattville, said, “I have never understood why members of this body were allowed to take contracts as consultants or counselors.”

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Wingo said, “Never do I use the word counselor in my bill; it is consulting.”

Beckman asked, “Are we going to be getting into an area where  every time we turn around we create a bureaucratic nightmare where we have to go get an opinion. These opinions whether it is orally or written don’t hold up in a court of law.” Beckman said, “We are serving the people here but we get this admonition that we can still be a consultant if we get an opinion.”

Wingo said, “This does not apply to professions where a member is currently licensed.”

Beckman said, “I would like to see more opinions coming out of the Ethics Commission. Right now we have the Ethics Commission competing with the Attorney General’s office over who has more authority.”

State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said,”This happened to a friend of mine. He just got out of prison. He was a state senator and had a written letter from the Ethics Commission which his lawyer read at trial and the jury convicted him anyway.”

Rogers never named his friend, but reporters think he was talking about former state Sen. Edward Browning ‘E. B.’ McClain who spent over 22 years in the legislature until he was convicted on 47 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, bribery, and money laundry in 2009.

A federal jury found that McClain and the Rev. Samuel Pettagrue were guilty in a scheme where McClain would secure public funds for Pettagrue’s community programs and then receive a kickback once the funds were in hand. McClain was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison. McClain was not prosecuted under the Alabama ethics law as the state has a much weaker ethics statute then. The current ethics law was passed in 2010.

Rogers said, “If they offer me a consulting contract for a field like aerospace engineering that I know nothing about they are trying to pay me off. If you can already be a consultant for something you know about why would you seek a consulting contract for something you don’t know about.

Rogers this is how they can pay you off for your vote.”

State Rep. Artis “A.J.” McCampbell said, “I don’t like making changes to things like this because we get into things called unintended consequences.”

McCampbell was reading from the bill and Wingo said, “You are reading from the original version it has completely changed.” “We worked tirelessly on this bill with the Ethics Commission this is not a fly by night bill.”

“If a member of the legislature enters into a contract to do a consulting contract outside of their normal field of work this bill requires that they consult with the Ethics Commission first,” Wingo said. “It is up to the member to notify the Ethics Commission not to the company or person offering them the money.”

State Representative Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said, “Everybody but legislators are allowed to do contract work up to $30,000.”

Rep. Wingo said, “This is not intended to be a roadblock.”

State Representative Arnold Mooney, R-Indian Springs, said, “The whole purpose of this is not to prevent members from doing work in your field.” “What you are doing is offering to protect me.”

State Representative John Knight, D-Montgomery, asked Wingo what the Alabama Attorney General said about this legislation.

Wingo replied, “I have not contacted the Attorney General.”

Knight responded, “Something from the Ethics Commission does not carry a lot of protection from the Attorney General. We have seen that in the past. I think the Attorney General and the Ethics Commission should be in agreement in the working on this.”

Wingo answered, “Maybe this is a first step.”

Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, asked, “Do we have anybody doing work outside of their regular scope of work?”

Wingo answered, “Yes I think so.”

Wingo said, “If we had had this bill four or five years ago maybe we could have been spared the embarrassment that this body experienced with the former Speaker.”

Wingo was referring to former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard who was convicted of 12 counts of felony ethics violations in June 2016. Ironically, Hubbard is largely responsible for creating the ethics law that he was found guilty of violating 11 times in his relentless pursuit of outside contracts and personal wealth.

Unlike McClain, however, Hubbard has not yet served any of this sentence.

House Bill 387 passed 67-0 with 26 legislators abstaining.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

(Original reporting by the Alabama Media Group’s Lisa Osborn in 2009 was consulted in this report.)

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Week Five Legislative Report: A third of the Regular Session is done

by Beth Lyons Read Time: 14 min
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