By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) has made it clear to the Senate leadership, that no bills favored by the upper chamber will pass the House, unless his “draconian” oversight bill is passed.
The bill Hubbard is demanding the Senate pass is HB27, which was referred to earlier this year by this publication as creating a Star Chamber with unlimited power.
HB27 would create a joint-legislative committee of select House and Senate members, who would have total control to “approve, modify, or withhold” funds budgeted to State agencies, and other government entities. It would also limit the Governor’s power to permit inter-agency agreements, which would further erode the power of the Executive Branch.
Several lawmakers with an intimate knowledge of the bill say, Hubbard wants to use the powers authorized by HB27 to control the budgets of District Attorney, specifically, the Office of the Attorney General Luther Strange.
While Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery) is the face of the bill, the director and cosponsor behind the scenes is Hubbard, who stands accused by the State on 23 felony counts of public corruption.
Hubbard, in a legislative sleight-of-hand, wants to keep a low profile on the power grab, while promising Knight perks usually reserved for Republicans.
As stated in the bill, the committee can “authorize the Department of Finance to modify the planned expenditure of funds by State agencies and other entities and also direct the Chief Examiner of Public Accounts to conduct an audit, review, or examination of any State agency or other entity”
The other entities are not only State agencies, but also, “departments, bureaus, boards, commissions, authorities, or other[s]” This covers the broad spectrum of State government, with central authority given to the committee to dictate where money flows, and also investigate whatever entity they chose.
If enacted, HB27 would create a committee appointed by Speaker Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) that would not only have the power of the purse….
…but the power to intimidate.