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In Case You Missed It

Week Nine Legislative Report

Beth Lyons

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By Beth Marietta Lyons
Lyons Law Firm

The Alabama Legislature convened for day 17 of the annual Regular Session on Tuesday, March 6 with twenty-nine committee meetings held throughout the week to consider legislation. Both Houses then convened on Thursday, March 8 for Day 18.

There have been 885 bills introduced to date.

The Legislature will return to Montgomery on Tuesday, March 13 for day 19 of the Session with the House convening at 1:00 p.m. and the Senate at 3:00 p.m. Fourteen committees have scheduled meetings as of the time of this report.

DURING THE WEEK:

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Governor Ivey held a press conference to announce the formation of the Securing Alabama Facilities of Education (SAFE) Council to review existing school security policies, examine proposed legislation and policy recommendations, and report findings and recommendations to the Governor by April 30, 2018.

A rally was held to support legislation that would establish December 1 as a holiday honoring late civil rights leader Rosa Parks.

An Autism rally was held to support legislation to end the age limit for insurance coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

SIGNIFICANT INTRODUCTIONS THIS WEEK:

A bill was introduced in the House that would provide that certain provisions of the Alabama Telemarketing Act would apply to charitable organizations soliciting donations. The bill is pending in the House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee [HB488 by Representative Chris Sells].

A bill was introduced in the House that would require the Alabama Department of Mental Health to establish and operate a statewide mental health crisis telephone hotline to assist persons in mental health crises. The bill is pending in the House Health Committee [HB489 by Representative April Weaver].

A bill was introduced in both Houses that would require a county, municipality or local school board entering a bond financing agreement to include a schedule of all of their debt obligations for the time span of the maturity of the debt obligation. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee [SB364 by Senator Arthur Orr and HB500 by Representative Chris Sells].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would allow the disclosure of certain grand jury evidence and testimony relating to an officer-involved shooting that results in the death of a person. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee [SB366 by Senator Vivian Figures].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment was introduced in the Senate that would provide that the Forever Wild Land Trust may not acquire property in a county having a population of 20,000 of less if the property held by the trust in the county exceeds or will exceed 11,000 acres unless approved by the county commission. The bill is pending in the Senate County and Municipal Government Committee [SB370 by Senator Clyde Chambliss].

A proposed Constitutional Amendment was introduced in the Senate that would provide a specific tax rate to individuals, and provide for certain tax credits and deductions. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee [SB375 by Senator Bill Hightower].

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would allow create the Voluntary Alabama Firearms Do Not Sell List and allow a person to restrict his or her firearm purchasing authority by voluntarily adding his or her name to the List. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee [SB376 by Senator Trip Pittman].

SIGNIFICANT COMMITTEE ACTION THIS WEEK:

The Senate County and Municipal Government Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would exempt prescription drugs from the calculation of business license taxes based on gross receipts. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB349 by Senator Billy Beasley].

The Senate County and Municipal Government Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would authorize a county to use warrant funds on public facilities owned by a municipality located within the county. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB148 by Representative Randy Davis].

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow an out-of-state vendor participating in the Simplified Sales and Use Tax Remittance Program (SSUT) to continue to participate in the Program if a physical presence in the state is established through the acquisition of an in-state company, provide that the transaction is subject to sales tax if completed at a retail establishment, and provide that the eligible seller also includes sales through a marketplace facilitator. The bill now goes to the full House [HB470 by Representative Rod Scott].

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to the $1.75 billion General Fund Budget which includes an additional $53.8 million for Medicaid, an additional $55 million for Corrections, and funds for a 3% cost of living increase for non-education state employees. The bill now goes to the full House [SB178 by Senator Trip Pittman].

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would make a $30 million supplemental appropriation for the Department of Corrections. The bill now goes to the full House [SB175 by Senator Trip Pittman].

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a Senate bill, and its House companion, that would authorize a 3% cost-of-living increase for state employees. The bills now go to the full House [SB185 by Senator Clyde Chambliss and HB150 by Representative Dimitri Polizos].

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a Senate bill, and its House companion, that would allow certain retirees under the Employees’ Retirement System to receive a funded one-time lump-sum addition to their retirement allowances. The bills now go to the full House [SB215 by Senator Gerald Dial and HB440 by Representative Kerry Rich].

The House Governmental Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would require law enforcement officers to complete sensitivity training, and would require law enforcement agencies to recruit licensed social workers to law enforcement officers. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB335 by Senator Rodger Smitherman].

The House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate proposed Constitutional Amendment that would require that if a vacancy in the Alabama House or Senate occurs on or after October 1 of the third year of a quadrennium the seat would remain vacant until the next succeeding general election. The bill now goes to the full House [SB15 by Senator Rusty Glover].

The House Ways and Means Education Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a bill that would exempt the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo from payment of state, county, and municipal sales and use taxes related to capital expenditures for four years. The bill now goes to the full House [HB118 by Representative Steve McMillan].

The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a House 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 full Senate [HB298 by Representative Paul Lee].

Both the House Health Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee substituted and gave favorable reports to companion bills that would further provide auditing procedures for pharmacy records and would limit recoupment for certain errors by a pharmacy [HB457 by Representative Elaine Beech and SB348 by Senator Billy Beasley].

The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee gave a favorable report to a House bill that would give a cost-of-living increase of 2.5% to public education employees. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB174 by Representative Bill Poole].

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would make it a crime for any state, municipality, county official, agency, or personnel to intentionally aid or enable any individual in the commission of any violation of federal or state immigration law. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB302 by Senator Bill Hightower].

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a bill that would require any tax credit, exemption, deduction of preferential tax rate enacted in 2019 or later to expire within seven years of the effective date unless extended by the Legislature [SB187 by Senator Bill Hightower].

The House Agriculture and Forestry Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a bill that would further provide for permits for living shoreline restoration, and for the use of source sediment by riparian property owners. The bill now goes to the full House [HB370 by Representative Randy Davis].

The House Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would allow capital defendants to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection is unavailable or the defendant so chooses. The bill now goes to the full House [SB272 by Senator Trip Pittman].

The House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing, but did not vote, on a Senate bill that would require county and municipal police departments and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to adopt written policies to prohibit racial profiling, compile statistic on traffic stops and file reports with the Attorney General’s Office [SB84 by Senator Rodger Smitherman].

The House Technology and Research Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would require certain entities to provide notice to certain persons upon a breach of security that results in the unauthorized acquisition of sensitive personally identifying information. The bill now goes to the full House [SB318 by Senator Arthur Orr].

The House State Government Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate 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 House [SB181 by Senator Gerald Dial].

The House Agriculture and Forestry Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would provide for the depositing of material from the dredging of the inlets of the state. The bill now goes to the full House [HB422 by Representative David Sessions].

The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow funds in the Education Trust Fund Budget Stabilization Fund to be used for school security. The bill now goes to the full Senate [SB323 by Senator Trip Pittman].

SIGNIFICANT FLOOR ACTION THIS WEEK:

The Senate passed a Mobile County House bill that would establish the regulatory authority for the Mobile County Health Department to regulate intermittent food service establishments that prepare food in association with a temporary exempt event that is a regional celebration, tradition, or cultural event designated as such by Mobile County, if the intermittent food service establishment does not prepare, sell, or distribute food on a regular basis in its regular line of business. The bill now goes to the Governor [HB347 by Representative Margie Wilcox].

The House amended and passed a bill that would revise notification and confidentiality provisions governing certain economic incentives provided for by law and would clarity what incentives are subject to the notification requirements. The bill is now pending in the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee [HB317 by Representative Ken Johnson].

The Senate passed a bill that would revise the lodging tax to exclude certain rentals that are not for overnight accommodations from the lodging tax. The bill is now pending in the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee [SB226 by Senator Paul Sanford].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would allow manufacturers and dealers of boats located within the State to make application to the Department of Revenue for the authority to issue temporary license plates and registration certificates for boat trailers when sold out of state. The bill is now pending in the House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee [SB293 by Senator Bill Hightower].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would further provide for persons charged with driving under the influence and the installation of ignition interlock devices. The bill is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee [SB301 by Senator Paul Bussman].

The Senate passed a bill that would add a manufacturers license to the types of alcohol beverage licenses for an establishment that conduct tastings or samplings in an entertainment district. The bill is now pending in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee [SB339 by Senator Rodger Smitherman].

The House substituted, amended and passed a Senate 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 returned to the Senate for action on the House amendments which were approved. The bill now goes to the Governor [SB258 by Senator Tom Whatley].

The Senate passed a bill that would authorize the Adjutant General of the Alabama National Guard to establish and award the Cold War Victory Medal to eligible members of the Alabama National Guard or armed forces. The bill is now pending in the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee [SB225 by Senator Jim McClendon].

The House passed a Senate bill that would expand the adjusted gross income range allowable for a maximum standard deduction for Alabama individual income tax purposes. The bill now goes to the Governor [SB76 by Senator Del Marsh].

The Senate passed a bill that would set the term of all deferred presentment transactions (payday loans) at 30 calendar days. The bill is now pending in the House Financial Services Committee [SB138 by Senator Arthur Orr].

The Senate passed a bill that would require all county superintendents be appointed by the county board of education, except as otherwise provided by the Alabama Constitution. The bill is now pending in the House Education Policy Committee SB280 by Senator Dick Brewbaker].

The House passed 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 is now pending in the Senate County and Municipal Government Committee [HB354 by Representative Corey Ellis].

The Senate passed a House 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 now goes to the Governor [HB228 by Representative David Standridge].

The Senate passed a House bill that would remove the requirement for homeowners to submit copies of construction records in order to receive an insurance premium discount for meeting certain construction standards making a home resistant to strong winds if the property is certified by the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) and evidence of that certification is submitted. The bill now goes to the Governor [HB279 by Representative Randy Davis].

The House passed a bill that would provide for the issuance of a non-profit special events retail license, and provides that a licensed manufacturer may donate its product to a licensed non-profit special event. The bill is now pending in the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee [HB414 by Representative Craig Ford].

The Senate debated and carried over the following bills:

A bill that would establish work requirements for eligibility to participate in Medicaid, and require the Alabama Medicaid Agency to implement semi-annual eligibility verification [SB140 by Representative Arthur Orr].

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 [SB261 by Senator Gerald Dial].

A House bill that would modify the Wallace-Folsom Savings Investment Plan to authorize a contribution to, and continued investment in, an ACES Program or ABLE Program savings account by the guardian or conservator of the designated beneficiary, and allow the distributions from the accounts be used toward expenses at any higher education institution [HB251 by Representative Ken Johnson].

A House bill that would provide oversight of currently license exempt faith-based child care facilities [HB76 by Representative Pebblin Warren].

BUDGETS:

  • The state Education Trust Fund Budget, HB17 by Rep. Poole, has passed the House and is pending in the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee.
  • The General Fund Budget, SB178 by Sen. Pittman, has passed the Senate and has been substituted and given a favorable report by the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee. It’s pending action by the full House.

SUMMARY:

  • Bills introduced: 885
  • Bills which have passed house of origin: 352
  • Bills which have passed both houses: 146
  • Bills which are pending governor’s signature: 51
  • Bills which have been vetoed: 0
  • Constitutional Amendment bills pending referendum: 11
  • Bills enacted: 80

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In Case You Missed It

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 Nine Legislative Report

by Beth Lyons Read Time: 14 min
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