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Featured Opinion

The Session’s biggest loser

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The 2017 Legislative Session saw the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) fail to deliver on its stated agenda. The State’s so-called powerful business lobby is the Session’s biggest loser. Only Governor Kay Ivey can give them a win.

BCA’s push for an infrastructure package collapsed, as did the latest Triple-A education giveaway. Its team of lobbyists couldn’t stop the anti-gay adoption Legislation, or the Autism Bill from passage despite their best efforts (They did manage to kill the Gun Bill).

Gov. Ivey can still give BCA another victory by not signing the Monument Bill, which, according to the Governor’s office, her legal team is reviewing. Perhaps this is a chance for her legal advisor, Bryan Taylor, to show his chops (Taylor, who unlike most lawyers, refuses to allow his legal work to be peer reviewed at Martindale-Hubbell Attorney Reviews and Ratings). Surely Taylor can justify giving BCA at least one more check in the win column because to quote Gov. Ivey’s spokesperson Eileen Jones, “he is an excellent lawyer; excellent!”

In 2010, former Gov. Bob Riley, then-Speaker Mike Hubbard, and BCA’s Billy Canary were sitting in the catbird seat, and for six years they ruled the State House as their fiefdom. But things began to change after Hubbard’s conviction on 12 counts of felony public corruption. Hubbard’s fall brought about a reversal of fortune, not only for BCA but Riley Incorporated as well. While this Session demonstrates BCA’s loss of influences, it now appears that Kay Ivey’s ascendancy to the Governor’s office is also a boom for Riley Inc.

The Ivey administration is looking more like Riley 3.0 as this week she will likely add more Riley loyalists to her cabinet (Goodbye Gunter Guy?).

BCA is no longer the dominate force in the State House, and at best, Canary is losing big-time. But here again, the Ivey gang may mean a rebound for the Riley Clan. Canary is damaged goods and his days appear to be numbered as head of BCA. If nothing else, the big power players should watch a replay of Canary and other BCA board members squirming in the witness box, as they tried to explain why it was better for BCA to own Hubbard than someone else.

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So far Canary has survived, but this latest Legislative shellacking should send a message: “It’s time to fly, fly away little bird.”
As one lawmaker stated after Hubbard’s conviction, “Even with Hubbard gone, as long as Riley and Canary retain power, the State doesn’t stand a chance.”

This Session, Senators and Representatives finally stood up to BCA. As for Canary, he mainly lurked in the shadows like a defanged Count Orlok, from the film, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. Kudos really must go to the 2014 Class of Lawmakers, many of whom came to the House not owing Hubbard, Riley, or BCA for their elections.

There was a time when BCA was a respected organization; it can be again, but not as long as Canary leads it. Few respect him, fewer fear him, and unless Gov. Ivey throws him a bone, that dog is going to limp away from the 2017 Session emaciated and hungry.

As for the Ivey administration, things aren’t looking good, so who knows what they will do. I mean, seriously, it took them five days to rebuff our report on her hospitalization. Altitude sickness? That must cause amnesia or a pathetic case of “how to lie badly.”

There was great hope for Gov. Ivey to succeed and do well, a hope which she continues to squander by doubling down on mistakes. Hubris got Hubbard, Bentley too, and it will likely fail her administration as well.

Good news: There are honest men and women who are tired of BCA and Canary. But, if Gov. Ivey, Steve Pelham, and Bryan Taylor think the truth will stay hidden, they are as blind as those who surrounded Hubbard.


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Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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