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House Committee Pulls Teeth from Revolving Door Bill

By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter

Last week, the House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee considered SB36, the so-called “revolving door” bill spearheaded by Senator Del Marsh. The bill passed the full Senate earlier this session after a chaotic fight over an unwanted amendment proposed –successfully– by veteran Democratic Senator Hank Sanders.

Although it was ultimately carried over by the committee, a substitute to the bill that passed the Senate was proffered by Representative/Chair Mike Ball. Ball first commented briefly on what he said had become a “circus” in the Senate, referencing the events surrounding the bill’s amended passage, which featured a reversal of a ruling by the Senate’s presiding officer, Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey. He then produced what is the House’s first move on the legislation, a substitute for the bill that completely guts the changes included in the Sanders amendment and passed unanimously by the full Senate.

The Sanders amendments to the Senate Pro Tem’s bill include an extension of lobbying regulations to executive offices such as the Governor’s, an increase of so called “double dipping” limitations and a clarification on who exactly is a lobbyist – with the newly proposed definition expanded to include anyone who advocates for an issue in the State House. “This amendment attempts to close every conceivable loophole,” Sanders said on the floor.

It also included language that would apply similar restrictions to family members of the legislature and the executive. Such language, as the Alabama Political Reporter reported here would have prevented those in a position like that of Senator Del Marsh’s daughter, Christine Marsh, who is currently an active, registered lobbyist on Goat Hill, from having such job positions.

After the passage of the bill in the Senate – a bill embellished with the new, strict regulations – Senator Del Marsh took to the lectern, and in a somewhat snide manner informed the body that the new amendment was unacceptable as an add-on to his legislation, although, he said, Sanders was welcome to introduce his proposals as their own pieces of legislation. Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, who has drawn primary opposition this June, told reporters afterwards, “He ruined my bill. He really did.” He also expressed concern about its ability to pass in the House, at one point promising that if the House did not take action, he would push a “clean” version of the bill through the Senate – revolving door round two.

The Alabama Political Reporter’s coverage of the passage of the revolving door legislation in the upper chamber can be read here:

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It includes a video of the heated floor debate.

The House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee may take up a vote on the substitute as soon as this week, at which point the skim milk version of the bill would move to the full House for a vote. All changes would eventually have to be approved by the Senate, either by passage of the House version, or adoption of a conference committee report.

We also post video highlights of all the action on Goat Hill, which can be seen at youtube.com/aprthev

 

Lee Hedgepeth
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