By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, November 12, State Representative Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) spoke to the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans (GBYRs) about his effort to be elected by the House membership as the next Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives.
Representative Williams said, “I am here to talk to you about the future because the present is getting on my nerves.”
Williams said that he liked most of the tax plans being presented by the Republican candidates for President in Tuesday’s debate. Williams predicted that there could be a, “Boom like in the 1980s which was very good for me.”
Rep. Williams said, “I am campaigning against the system in Montgomery. I have watched this very closely in 6 years. A lot of people have gone down there (Montgomery) before making their money. I hope that all of you young Republicans get elected to the legislature some day; but make your money first.”
Williams said there are fundamental problems with the system in Montgomery. There is one person in Montgomery who appoints the Committee Chairs. He said that wants to make the committees themselves responsible for picking the chairs, “Very similar to what Daniel Webster did when he was the Speaker in Florida.” Rep. Williams said that it would give power back to the people.
Williams said that running for Speaker is a lot like running for 8th grade class president only the 8th graders get to vote.
When asked what he thought his chances were, Williams said, “If we had a secret ballot I would do very well. Right now we have a top down system. The current speaker has a lot of power and a lot of people are very afraid of him.”
Speaker Williams said, “The members are ready for a change. The current speaker is a wonderfully talented bright guy. He chooses all the committees, he chooses all the chairs, he is a gatekeeper between the candidate and the fundraiser. There is a lot of talent in the House. Downsizing the role of the speaker would empower the members.”
Williams said, “I voted for the current speaker two times.” A lot of information has been released in the last six months that is not good. “I don’t think our current leadership is going to get Alabama to the next level.”
Williams promised that if he is elected Speaker he will take no PAC money. Williams said, “The only W2 or 1099 I will have as speaker will be the $49,999 or whatever it is that we get as a member of the House. We will reorganize the house at the beginning of each session. If the members do not like what I have done they can replace me at the end of the session.”
An audience member asked Williams if the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and the other power brokers in Montgomery are opposing him.
Williams said, “The BCA loves me for my voting record. Williams said he was pro-business and for low taxation. They can support me. I have met with ALFA they are very encouraging. They know that if I am successful my office will always be open to anyone whether they support me or not.”
Williams said that he fought to prevent the House from passing legislation allowing someone to create an unlimited legal defense fund. “That just about made my head explode. We won the legislature in 2010 saying we are the good guys we are wearing the white hats. Mike Hubbard is a friend of mine. He may now hate my guts; but I am not running against him. I am running against the system that put him where he is at.”
Rep. Williams, “I am for doing whatever it takes to get good government. I am not running against the speaker because he was indicted.” Williams said that the lottery and casino gambling are coming down the tracks and he didn’t think the current Speaker is equipped to deal with it.
Williams said that if we put a lottery before a vote of the people he thinks it would be 3 to 1 for the lottery. There is a mile of cars at the Tennessee line waiting to purchase lottery tickets every week. “I will always vote yes for people to have the opportunity to vote. Casino gambling is a lot different than lotteries.”
Williams said that Bridgeport in Jackson County is being looked at as a possible casino site as is the border area near Florida. Casino gambling is different than a lottery because the 1901 Constitution said though shall not have a lottery. Casino gambling the legislature can put that into force. I am a Republican but I have a libertarian streak in me and I think you can do what you want to do and the government shouldn’t get in the way.
Williams said that he mentors startups. Anything we can do to promote startups we will do.
Williams said that there is a program called Forever Wild that spend $15 million a year buying up land, swampland, and now even farmland. If people really understood Forever Wild they would be for using that money to help the State parks. “I hate to see State parks used as political hostages to get people like me to vote for tax increases.”
Rep. Williams said that he expects that the Speaker issue will be decided in February.