A year after his felony conviction Hubbard remains free, ethics laws in jeopardy

June 13, 2017

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

As the word “guilty” rang out twelve times in a Lee County courtroom on the evening of June 10, 2016, Alabama’s political world was rendered breathless as if dropped to the canvas by a body blow to the liver.

The conviction of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, who led Alabama’s Republican party from the backwoods of political power to an overwhelming supermajority in the State House and Senate, was a singularly dark moment in the State’s history. Yet, the date marking one year since he was found guilty of felony public corruption charges passed, seemly without notice.
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Morrow critical of Budget Committee

December 16, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Since 1990, no fewer than ten formal legislative committees, commissions, task forces, and other entities have been created by the Legislature to study budget and tax reform. This number, however, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO), doesn’t include “any task force or group created informally by either House and not specifically by resolution or other official act.”

Recently, Representative Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay) asked the LFO to compile a list of budget study groups since the passage of the Alabama Commission on Tax and Fiscal Policy Reform created by Act 1990-734.
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Ethics Commission withdraws McCalla opinion after charities line-up

December 8, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In a unanimous vote on September 1, 2016, the Alabama Ethics Commission issued advisory opinion 2016-24, which it believed clarified the question regarding public officials soliciting lobbyists and principals for contributions to a charitable organization, operating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

The issue was raised by the nonprofit group, Friends of McCalla.

After approving the opinion in a 5-0 vote, the Commission gave a 30-day window for public comment; however, it was extended past the 30 days to December 7.
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Children, Aged the Center of the Medicaid Debate: What the Numbers Show

August 23, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Today, the 2016 Legislative Special Session will continue its charge to find funding for the 2017 shortfall facing Medicaid. Gov. Robert Bentley proposes using money from the BP oil spill settlement as an immediate fix, for a program in dire need of a long-term solution.

Currently, Alabama provides Medicaid recipients with only the most basic of services, far behind those offered in other states. Medicaid reformers in Alabama are putting their hopes on the Regional Care Organizations (RCO’s), to provide better care while lowering overall cost by adding more preventative care.
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Ethics Commission Inserts Itself in Superintendent Selection, As Do Others

August 9, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Selecting the next State Superintendent of the Department of Education is playing out with Machiavellian intrigue, as an ethics complaint filed against Dr. Craig Pouncey, a candidate for superintendent, emerged to cloud the proceedings.

Allegations made anonymously include falsifying authorship of his Doctoral Dissertation and a wide-range of conspiracies.

In a letter sent July 15, via email from Hugh Evans, III, General Counsel for the State Ethics Commission to the Alabama State Department of Education, Evans writes, “we have received a complaint alleging certain possible violations of the Ethics Law on the part of Warren Craig Pouncey.”
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Dues Checks-Off Back On

August 4, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Now that the Republican supermajority has successfully brought the once powerful Alabama Education Association (AEA) to heel, it appears the organization will, once again, be allowed to deduct membership dues directly from employees paychecks. According to insiders AEA can still lobby and promote public education, but must “certify” that it won’t run “specific candidates” for office.

“Good News! AEA payroll deduction of dues is back by popular demand,” began a letter from AEA Executive Director Dr. Brenda Pike, informing members that beginning in September, dues may be directly paid via payroll deduction.
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“We” Being The Operative Word

August 1, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Words are powerful. They can inspire hope or fear, pride or prejudice. Words can heal or destroy. As Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

Alabama is not at a crossroad. We are at the edge of a cliff, where real leadership is desperately needed to keep the government from falling into the abyss.
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What Happened in Vegas: Troy Professor’s Mission to “Bring Down” RSA

June 27, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The leadership of the Republican supermajority wants to reform the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA). Along the way, their efforts have been buoyed by, The Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University. The Johnson Center is one of many institutions which is funded by the Charles Koch Foundation (Koch is pronounced like the soft drink, Coke).

During a gathering in Las Vegas this past April, Dr. George R. Crowley, Associate Professor of Economics and Associate Chair of Economics & Finance at Troy’s Johnson Center, spoke at the event, hosted by the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE).
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Report Finds Alabama State Courts Do Not Mirror Population

June 24, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY— A first-of-its-kind quantitative report found that Alabama’s court system is failing to adequately represent the diversity of the State’s population. The report entitled, The Gavel Gap: Who Sits in Judgement at State Courts?, was authored by law professors Tracey E. George and Albert H. Yoon, and published by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS).

Alabama received an F with a Gavel Gap of – 47 and ranks 32 nationally, because State Court Judges are disproportional when compared with the overall population.
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Republicans Aren’t Practicing What They Preach

May 24, 2016

By Rep. Darrio Melton

As a member of the clergy, “practice what you preach” has a very literal meaning in my life. When I deliver a sermon or lead a Bible study, I’m called not just to be a messenger, but a teacher and example of the lessons set forth on Sundays. That’s not to say I don’t fall short, because we all fall short. But it is to say that I have an obligation to my parishioners not to lead a Bible study on Wednesday then go out and act like a fool on Friday.
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