By Rep. Darrio Melton
In the past three years since the Republican Supermajority took over the state house, we have seen an unprecedented number of resignations and even more “one and done” legislators.
Many of the legislators who have resigned their public office, costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in special elections, have done so to take high-paid lobbying positions with companies like Alfa, the Business Education Alliance or Barton & Kinney.
Others plan to serve out their term before going to work for a lobbying firm, following in the footsteps of former Governor Bob Riley.
The problem has gotten so bad that even the Republican leadership is trying to put a stop to it.
Senator Del Marsh has proposed a new bill that would prevent members of the legislature from lobbying either chamber for two years. If a legislator resigns mid term, he or she cannot work as a lobbyist until after that term would have expired.
The current law is that an individual may only lobby the opposite chamber and must wait two years before lobbying the chamber in which he or she served.
When Marsh’s bill got to the Senate, Democrats were able to modify the bill to include the Governor and the Governor’s family. Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey attempted to block the amendment, but the Democrats won a procedural motion to allow the amendment, and the amendment passed unanimously.
When the bill gets to the House, I plan to support it.
Public service should be just that- a service you provide to the public. It should not be a stepping stone to a better job or a way to use tax dollars for personal benefit.
If you are elected, it’s because the people trust you to represent their families and their needs in Montgomery, not because you were sent to rub elbows and network so you can personally profit.
The Republicans who have resigned to become lobbyists have shown a complete lack of regard for the commitment they made to serve their districts and the tax dollars it costs to fill their seats.
It’s time to return the government to the people and kick the money changers out of the temple. It’s time to close the revolving door.
Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives District 67 in 2010.