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House Demands More Accountability From Jefferson County

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday the Alabama House of Representatives passed House Bill 134.  HB 134 requires that the Jefferson County Commission must submit quarterly reports on the collections and disbursements of the indigent care funds.

The bill was sponsored by Alabama State Representative John Rogers (D) from Birmingham. HB 134 was cosponsored by Representatives Mary Moore (D) and Rod Scott (D).

House Bill 134 is a Jefferson County local bill. It would require the Jefferson County Commission submit the quarterly accounting of the collections and disbursement of the proceeds from the Indigent Health Care Fund for Jefferson County to each member of the Jefferson County Legislative Delegation.

The bill also requires that the commission release the report to the public on their Internet website.

If the commission fails to submit a quarterly accounting, each member of the commission would be subject to an action for malfeasance in office and would be audited by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts.

Jefferson County has suffered from decades of corruption and mismanagement.  Former Jefferson County Commissioners Langford (D), Katapodis (R), White (R), Buckelew (R), Germany (D), and McNair (D) have all been convicted for their roles in a variety of criminal corruption scandals that have left the embattled county with over $ four billion in debt and in bankruptcy court.  Jefferson County is the largest government bankruptcy in American history.  The courts also ruled that Jefferson County’s unpopular Occupation tax was illegal.

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The Jefferson County Commission had asked the 2012 legislature to levee a massive tax increase on the people who live and/or work in the struggling county including a new occupation tax.  That request was rebuffed by the House and instead the legislature told the Jefferson County Commission to make do with their current revenue streams.  As part of their resulting austerity plan, the Jefferson County Commission vote to end much of its costly hospital operations in December at Cooper Green Hospital for the indigent in Birmingham.  That move was unpopular with some members of the Jefferson County legislative delegation.

A $250 a day penalty for filing the reports late was stricken from the version of HB 134, which passed on Tuesday the House without opposition.

HB 134 now awaits action in the Alabama Senate where it has been referred to the Senate Committee on Local Legislation.  If passed, the Jefferson County Commission

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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