By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The Special Order Calendar set to be heard in the House today, could endanger the political careers of every Republican member of the State House of Representatives.
Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, has forced through a package of tax increases that will test the mettle of House Republicans, and determine once and for all, whether they are loyal to their ideals, their constituents or Hubbard.
House Republicans will face a choice between standing up to Hubbard or risk being labeled a tax and spend RINO in the next election.
Hubbard, who stands accused by the State of 23 felony counts of public corruption, has devised a plan whereby he would raise between $100-$200 million in taxes and gain a potential $250 million from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI). The combined revenue would be near the $541 million Gov. Robert Bentley has asked the legislature to pass.
Sources within Bentley’s inner circle say that Hubbard has lobbied the Governor to accept his deal on taxes, in exchange for granting the PCI an exclusive gaming compact.
Why Hubbard is risking political Armageddon just to pass a tax hike is not easily understood. And no one except Hubbard, and perhaps a lobbyist or a Tribal council member, knows exactly why he is pushing for a Indian-only monopoly.
A recent poll by the Alabama Political Reporter shows that granting the Tribe an exclusive compact for gaming only garnered 13 percent favorability. In a red state like ours, only someone like Heinrich Luitpold Himmler would receive a lower number.
The House is controlled by a Republican supermajority, which, for the most part, has been loath to raise taxes. They surely never mentioned it to the voters during their campaigns. The Republicans won in 2010 and again in 2014 by running against higher taxes and government waste. Now, Hubbard is asking them to put their careers in peril, because he says so, and he has not even tried to offer a compelling argument as to why.
Hubbard has ruled the House with an iron fist; punishing those who didn’t carry out his will. His hold over members is so complete, that even after he was arrested on felony charges, only one, lone Representative refused to reelect him Speaker. Rep. Alvin Holmes, a Democrat, has shown the backbone of a man to resist Hubbard.
But House Republican’s no longer have a good reason to fear Hubbard’s ambient violence, at least in contrast to the wrath of the GOP voters.
If the tax hikes on the Special Order Calendar pass, many so-called conservative Republicans will be facing a challenge from the right in the next election.
Hubbard is scheduled to go to trial in his felony case in October. If he is convicted, these Republican House members will have another vote to defend.
Hubbard thinks he is all powerful, but all I see is a scared, little man hanging on by a very thin tread. He appears desperate, and even unbalanced, because he has lost control. And for a man like Hubbard, control is everything. Without it, he is lost. His strength is an illusion. If Republicans bend to his will, then they deserve to be beaten in the next election.
The “real” tax facing the House is the cost of supporting Hubbard, one that may very well cause some of the members to lose their careers and perhaps….their souls.