State leaders have lost their credibility on prisons

November 29, 2017

By Rep. Craig Ford

With all the attention being given to the special election for the U.S. Senate, you may not have seen what has been happening in Montgomery with the prison crisis.

Last year, Gov. Bentley proposed a plan to build four new “super prisons” at a cost of about $800 million. At the time, a lawsuit had been filed claiming that the state’s prisons were overcrowded and did not provide adequate safety and healthcare services, which is a violation of the 8th Amendment that prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.”

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Breaking down the lottery process

September 19, 2017

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The following article is part of APR’s on-going series on gaming and the lottery:

Polling on both sides of the political aisle indicates that the voters in Alabama support the right to vote on a lottery and legalized gaming — and overwhelmingly support a lottery and legalized gaming. By participating in lotteries across state lines in Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, Alabamians have paid millions of dollars to educate the children of those states. While some questioned the continued viability of state lotteries, several recent large jackpots and the continued popularity of scratch-off tickets demonstrate that lotteries are still sources of significant revenue for lottery states. The lottery debate in Alabama has been historically broken down in the Legislature over four issues:

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Alabama government: It’s not about you

May 23, 2017

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

It’s probably worth remembering that Alabama’s Legislators work for you.

The men and women who roam the halls of the State House, crafting legislation (or, more likely, copying it verbatim from some lobbyist) and running Alabama are representatives of us. All of us.

That means they’re supposed to be in Montgomery doing what we want, taking care of our needs.

I’ll pause while you recover from laughing hysterically.
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Alabama Supreme Court’s Actions: Justice or Machiavellian Scheme

October 26, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) and several justices on the Alabama Supreme Court are attempting, it appears, to avoid further unwanted scrutiny of their conduct in the case against Chief Justice Roy Moore.

The Commission, commonly referred to as the JIC, is hoping to steer clear of another growing controversy by dismissing the complaint against Associate Justice Tom Parker, who, like Chief Justice Moore, spoke publicly against same-sex marriage.
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Dial Asks BOE To Postpone Vote On Sentance

August 31, 2016

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY— On Tuesday, Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) asked the Alabama Board of Education, in an email, to postpone finalizing the hiring of Michael Sentance as Superintendent of Education.

“It has become public that he has had his law license suspended among other concerning issues,” said Dial.

He said that it would be in the best interest of the State not to proceed, in order to allow for more time for an “investigative process” to address some outstanding issues concerning educators and legislators.
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Senator Dial Calls on Board to Ignore Special Interests in Superintendent Selection

July 8, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY— State Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) sent a letter on Wednesday, cautioning members of the State Board of Education to ignore the corrupting influence of special interest groups and legislators, who are working to influence the appointment of a new Superintendent of Education.

In his letter Dial wrote, “I have read the many comments concerning the process of selecting the next Superintendent of Education. Several stories and articles have surfaced, the fact that Specific individual members of the legislature are trying to discredit one specific candidate by being less than truthful about his qualifications is very troubling to me and others.”
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Ford Says that Bentley May Have Obstructed Justice

February 19, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

“In the Criminal Justice System, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the District Attorneys who prosecute the offenders.”

Anyone who has watched the long running crime drama, “Law and Order,” understands how this works. Police respond to and investigate crimes and the prosecutors work with them to build and prove those cases in the court of law. The two separate but equally important groups of professionals work together in service to the people they protect. In the state of Alabama our police are the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and our prosecutors are the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. Anyone familiar with the TV show (or the real life operations of the American justice system) knows that if a prosecutor asks a law enforcement officer for a sworn affidavit about something in a criminal case the state is working on the officer complies with that request routinely.
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Planned Parenthood Rallies to Stop Pro-Life Legislation

May 21, 2015

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, May 20, Planned Parenthood led dozens of protestors in front of the Alabama State Capital to protest pending Pro-Life legislation being considered by the Alabama legislature.   

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Helen Cox wrote in a statement, “Since the Alabama legislative session began in mid-March, the attack on Alabama’s women and families has been relentless. Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates is fighting back alongside supporters, volunteers, and partners to ensure their voices are heard.”
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Pro-Life Bills Get Favorable Report

May 7, 2015

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, May 6, the Alabama House of Representatives Health Committee gave a favorable report to a package of bills aimed at regulating abortions in the State of Alabama. The committee approved HB405, HB491, and HB527 in the House.

Alabama Citizens for Life Spokeswoman Cheryl Ciamarra told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Alabama citizens for life would like to see a ban on dismemberment abortions like Kansas signed into law, a limit on licensing abortion providers within 2000 feet of schools (many fear ACA will lead to Planned Parenthood eventually running clinics inside schools in Alabama) and a total ban on any type of abortions if fetal heartbeat can be detected: HB 405.”
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Alabama Ethics Commission Says Legislators Are Breaking the Law

February 24, 2012

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter 

Director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, James L. Sumner sent a memo to Alabama Senate Pro Tem Dell Marsh, Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, and all registered lobbyists saying that Alabama lobbyists are still taking legislators to dinners in violation of Alabama’s strict new 2011 ethics law.

Director Sumner wrote, “We have heard from several sources recently that since the session started last week, there are some people and groups who either do not understand the new hospitality provision of the new Ethics Law or are intentionally disregarding those rules.”

“Specifically we are hearing that at the end of each day several lobbyists are attempting to gather groups of approximately eight (8) to go out for dinner.” “It appears what may be occurring is that groups are going out after every day and calling this a “work session.”  We believe this is a subterfuge and is not something that we would precertify.  If events that are precertified are carried out in this way then that precertification is null and void.”

Director Sumner acknowledges in the letter that “work session” is not defined in Alabama’s ethics law however the Alabama Ethics Commission has defined “work session” in their interpretation of the Alabama Ethics Law and under that definition a gathering of 8 legislators at a steakhouse with a lobbyist who pays for the dinners is not a work session. Director Sumner says that a lobbyist can take a group of 8 legislators out to dinner if he wants to but he has to report that and apply those dinners to the new annual limit set under the Alabama Ethics Law.  Director Sumner finishes, “We do not want anyone to run afoul of the law, and have gone to great lengths to interpret and educate as to the new law.” “Please bear in mind that the intent of the special session was meaningful ethics reform, and doing away with “ethics as usual”.

Prior to the 2010 election it was entirely legal, and many claim it was expected, for a lobbyist to spend up to $200 a day per legislator wining and dining Alabama state legislators to influence them to introduce or pass legislation desired by the special interest that was hiring the lobbying firm.  Similarly these tactics were used to influence legislators to kill legislation that the special interest did not favor.  The Alabama Republican Party promised voters that they would end the potentially corrupting and unethical practices that were then allowed by Alabama’s weak ethics laws.  For several years the Alabama Democratic Party majority promised many of these same reforms.  The ethics bills would be introduced in the House to much fanfare and then the ethics bills would die in some committee in the then Democrat Controlled Senate.  Following the election of Governor Robert Bentley (R) and the new Republican majorities of both houses in 2010, the new Governor called a special session of the Alabama Legislature where a series of new stronger ethics laws were passed into law, including the strict limits on how much lobbyists can spend on food for legislators.

The existence of the ethics memo was first reported by weldbham.com

To read the memo:

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