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Legislative Pay Bill Sparks Senate

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY–On Tuesday,  Senator Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City) introduced a bill (HB276) on the Senate floor which quickly turned into a heated debate.

House sponsor Representative Mike Ball (R-Huntsville) saw the bill through the House that would “repeal existing laws regarding the compensation and expense reimbursement of the members of the

Legislature; to provide for the basic compensation of members of the Legislature; and to provide for the reimbursement of expenses for legislators on the submission of signed vouchers in the same manner as state employees.”

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) rose to the podium with several amendments prepared for the bill to repeal the 2007 pay raise in addition to providing Legislative compensation be tied to median household income.

Sen. Bedford said to Sen. Williams, “You talk about historic trust and establishing it at a higher level but isn’t it a fact that this is just a backdoor pay raise that by 60 percent of people down here are going to get more money under your plan and more importantly, Sen. Williams, that this is such a change in how we are going to do business in Alabama why is yours rigged so that people who vote it down would keep the 62 percent pay raise?”

He contended that since many Senators had used repeal of the pay raise as part of their campaign platform that it should be included. Bedford was one of the architects of the 2007, 61 percent pay raise for the Legislature and at that time spoke in support of it. Bedford not only took the 2007 pay raise, but this year’s cost-of-living raise.

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The motion that the first amendment repealing the 2007 pay increase be tabled was tied at a vote of 17-17 (See vote count below). A point of order was called asking if the Lt. Governor could break the tie vote. The desk said that there was not a requirement. Motion to adopt the amendment to repeal the 2007 pay increase passed 18-16.

“I was disappointed that the debate on my bill in the Senate turned into a circus. However, it did serve to remind me how good it is to be a House member rather than a senator,” said Rep. Ball.

Many said this was all in an effort to force the Senate members to go on record so it could be used against them later.

“Yesterday, as I have said in the papers, I think was the worst bit of hypocrisy I have seen,” said Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). “A lot of the votes that were made yesterday and the amendments that were offered were just people positioning themselves, posturing themselves, in my opinion to try to embarrass some people or make themselves look good when in reality most of the people making those amendments, if you look at it, have taken that pay raise from day one that could have refused it from day one. I hope the people look at these legislators, the way they voted and how the have actually conducted themselves since that pay raise took place.”

Not only would SB276 reduce the Legislative salaries but it would restrict expenses of Legislators to the level allowed for state employees. Also, only out-of-district travel expenses would be allowed and any legislator residing within a 50 mile radius would not be allowed to claim expenses for travel to and from the Capital.

The bill will have a stipulation that if any pay raises take place in the future, they can not be accepted until the next quadrennium begins.

“I will promise you that the legislation that came out of the Senate will go back to the House, I have talked to the Speaker, they will non-concur,” said Pres. Pro Tem Marsh. “Once that takes place it will come back to the Senate. We will cede with their wishes and go back to conference where we will fix it pretty much the way the bill is which basically sets a median pay scale based on the median wage of Alabamians.

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“I am very hopeful. At least it did get out of the Senate. I am very hopeful, as a matter of fact, I am about as certain as you can be in this process that we are going to come out of conference with a good bill. Very similar, very close to what we passed in the House that the people of Alabama can support,” said Rep. Ball.

Pres. Pro Tem Marsh said, “All of those [parts of the bill] are based on a lot of hard work from [Sen.] Phil Williams and [Rep.] Mike Ball in the House who studied how other states are handling this issue. I think that is where we are going to head to get back to that type of bill and hopefully put it on the ballot in November for people to vote on it.”

The bill will go back to the House. The Speaker will non-concur leaving it to be sent to joint committee.

Tuesday’s Votes to Table Amendment Repealing 2007 pay increase: 

Voted in Favor

Did not take 2012 pay raise:

Allen, R, $47,496

Beason, R, $49,296

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Marsh, R, $27,360

Orr, R, $43,428

Reed, R, $49,296

Scofield, R, $49,296

Taylor, R, $27,360

Ward, R, $47,496

Williams, R, $40,800

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Brewbaker, R, $27,360

Bussman, R, $49,296

Glover, R, $49,296

Holtzclaw, R, $49,296

McGill, R, $49,296

Pittman, R, $51,096

Sanford, R, $49,296

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Waggoner, R, $47,496



Voted Against

Did not take 2012 pay raise:

Blackwell, R, $41,904

Brooks, R, $27,360

Holley, R, $40,368

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Dial, R, $49,296

Whatley, R, $49,296

Dunn, D, $50,088

Figures, D, $47,496

Irons, D, $49,296

Beasley, D, $49,296

Smith, I, $50,904

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Took 2012 pay raise:

Coleman, D, $50,904

Smitherman, D, $51,696

Sanders, D, $50,088

Bedford, D, $50,088

Fielding, D, $49,296

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Keahey, D, $48,288

Singleton, D, $50,088

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