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House member moves to abolish ALEA

Bill Britt

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The Republican supermajority created the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, known as ALEA, in 2013, as a way to operate public safety in a more efficient, cost-effective way according to the legislation’s sponsors.

However, the efficiency and cost savings have not materialized and now HB210 in the House of Representatives is moving to dismantle the sweeping bureaucracy and return public safety operation to its original form.

“They said ALEA would save about $35 million a year. It hasn’t saved anything,” according to State Rep. Phillip Pettus, R-Killen, who is sponsoring legislation to abolish ALEA.

Pettus who served as an Alabama State Trooper for 25 years, rising to the rank of captain before his retirement in 2013 says ALEA has failed.

“It [spending] just keeps going up. And we have fewer troopers on the road now than we did before ALEA was started,” said Pettus. “That’s the big thing. I mean, it’s just – it’s not working.”

As reported by APR‘s Brandon Moseley, in 2018, ALEA received $182,661,377 in total receipts. In the 2019 fiscal year, the Legislature budgeted for ALEA to receive $204,403,572. Hal Taylor, ALEA’s chief, has requested that the agency receive $214,508,787 for the 2020 fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. That would be a $10,105,215 increase.

ALEA having difficulty hiring qualified State Troopers

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Legislation proposed by Pettus would see the various organizations consolidated under ALEA revert to the previous agency structure.

“We can put it back just like it was,” said Pettus.

Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and others championed ALEA during the 2013 regular session.

“This proposal, like many others we’ll take up this session, will fundamentally change the landscape of state government and we know that won’t be easy,” Marsh added. “But we owe it to the taxpayers to move heaven and earth on their behalf to make sure we’re living within our means. We look forward to working with various stakeholders to address any concerns they may have, but the bottom line is we will be moving forward.”

Senate President Pro Tem Pre-Files Legislation to Streamline State’s Public Safety Functions

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Marsh’s optimism was shared by then Senate Majority Leader Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia, who said at the time, “Senator Marsh has taken the lead in examining all aspects of state government to find ways we can operate more efficiently and save taxpayer money,” Waggoner said. “Our number one responsibility as lawmakers is to ensure we’re living within our means and this proposal is a monumental step in that direction.”

But as Pettus points out, the promises made never happened and according to him, it has also resulted in fewer troopers policing the state roadways.

“There are 200 troopers on patrol right now if you divide that by 67 counties, how many is that in a county? I tell people if you got a ticket by a trooper, you’re very unlucky,” said Pettus.

He notes that currently, troopers are retiring at a faster rate than they are being recruited.

“There’s 100-something in the class that’s fixing to be eligible to retire,” said Pettus. “We could lose 100-something troopers just like that. We don’t have enough – we’re not replacing them – they retire quicker than we can replace them.”

ALEA’s ineffectiveness Pettus believes is mostly to blame for the lack of troopers on the highways and its burdensome top-heavy management has not resulted in the once lauded savings.

HB210 would return the law enforcement functions consolidated within ALEA to their former offices and departments.

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Congress

After aid to deadly rally, Republican Attorneys General Association director resigns

Alabama AG Steve Marshall leads the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which paid for robocalls promoting the rally.

Eddie Burkhalter

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People are seen in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association resigned Monday amid mounting criticism after the group’s policy arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, paid for robocalls urging people to attend the rally that resulted in a riot and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who heads the Rule of Law Defense Fund, in a statement Monday did not address why RAGA’s executive director, Adam Piper, resigned. 

“Every decision Adam made on behalf of RLDF was with the best of intentions and with the organization’s best interests in mind,” Marshall said in a statement. “Adam leaves a void that will be difficult to replace, but we wish Adam well as he pursues other opportunities that will allow him to spend more time with his family.” 

“Serving Republican attorneys general has been the honor of a lifetime and honestly a dream job,” Piper said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. 

Democratic Attorneys General Association executive director Sean Rankin in a statement to APR called for more accountability. 

“The issue here was more than the robocall, and I hope what follows is a move to accountability for actions outside the bounds and for greater civility among state Attorneys General,” Rankin said in the statement. 

Prior to the protest, RLDF sent out robocalls detailing when and where citizens should meet, which was first reported by the watchdog investigative journalism group Documented. 

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“We will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” the robocall says, as recorded by Documented. “We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections. For more information, visit MarchtoSaveAmerica.com. This call is paid for and authorized by the Rule of Law Defense Fund.” 

Marshall, speaking to The Montgomery Advertiser on Monday after a press conference on human trafficking and before Piper’s resignation was announced, said the internal review is ongoing.

Asked by the Advertiser whether he felt Trump bore any responsibility for the violence at the Capitol on Wednesday, and for comment on Trump’s potential impeachment, Marshall declined to comment. 

“I didn’t see anything about the rally,” Marshall said, according to the newspaper. “I don’t know anything about his remarks.” 

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Former RAGA chairman and current member Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton spoke at the Wednesday rally just before riots broke out, criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court, which quickly dismissed his lawsuit seeking to overturn election results in Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Marshall and 15 other Republican attorneys general signed on to Paxton’s failed lawsuit. 

“One of the great things about the state of Texas is that we did not quit. If you look at what Georgia did, they capitulated,” Paxton told the crowd before the riots. 

Prior to his resignation, Piper sent a statement to APR blaming the robocall call on staff. 

“The Republican Attorneys General Association and Rule of Law Defense Fund had no involvement in the planning, sponsoring, or the organization of yesterday’s rally,” Piper said:

“No Republican AG authorized the staff’s decision to amplify a colleague speaking at the rally. Organizationally and individually, we strongly condemn and disavow the events which occurred. Yesterday was a dark day in American history and those involved in the violence and destruction of property must be prosecuted and held accountable.”

Several companies told The New York Times that they were reviewing their support of RAGA, though none said they planned to cut ties, according to the newspaper

Cherokee Nation decided to withdraw its $150,000 contribution to the Republican Attorneys General Association on Monday, citing the robocall as inappropriate, according to News on 6, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, news station.

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Elections

Sewell condemns actions, comments by Republican colleagues

Sewell called for Republican colleagues who shared in conspiracy theories over the election to be held accountable.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, during a congressional hearing.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, in a statement to APR on Monday called out some of her Republican colleagues, specifically Congressmen Mo Brooks and Barry Moore, for what she described as their “irresponsible and inflammatory remarks” regarding the election outcome and statements made surrounding the deadly attack of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. 

Rep. Barry Moore, R-Alabama, on Sunday had his personal Twitter account suspended, and then he deleted his account, after two tweets he made regarding the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol drew criticism. 

“Wow we have more arrests for stealing a podium on January 6th than we do for stealing an election on November 3rd. Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit, would be places I recommend you start; there is video evidence of these crimes as well! #ElectionIntegrityMatters,” Moore tweeted on Saturday. 

Before his account was suspended and deleted, Moore also tweeted in reference to the death of Ashli Babbit, 35, who was shot by a Capitol Police officer when she tried to crawl through a broken window inside the Capitol during the siege.

“@mtgreenee @NARAL I understand it was a black officer that shot the white female veteran . You know that doesn’t fit the narrative,” Moore tweeted Saturday. The tweet has since been deleted, but it has been archived by Pro Publica’s Politwoops project.

At least five people, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, have been killed related to the siege. Another Capitol Hill police officer, Howard Liebengood, who responded to the attack, died Saturday off duty, marking the second Capitol Police officer death since Wednesday. Police did not release his cause of death.

“Since Wednesday’s violent assault at the U.S. Capitol, I have been repeatedly asked my thoughts about the actions and comments of my Alabama colleagues, especially Rep. Mo Brooks and now Rep. Barry Moore,” Sewell said in a statement to APR on Monday. “While the Alabama congressional delegation has had a history of civility, if not congeniality, irrespective of political party, I cannot let the irresponsible and inflammatory remarks of some of my colleagues go unanswered.”

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She went on to say:

“It’s not okay for elected officials to continue to peddle lies and conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud and an allegedly-stolen presidential election.  President-Elect Biden won the election. There are simply no credible allegations of fraud, and upwards of 60 cases filed alleging problems with the election have been heard and dismissed by the courts. There are Trump appointed U.S. Attorneys throughout the country who were authorized by former Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate and prosecute allegations of fraud. Not one case has been filed by any of these Trump appointees.

“It is not okay for my congressional colleagues to use their public platform to incite Americans to overturn our election, storm the U.S. Capitol or assault our democracy. It’s called an insurrection and such seditious behavior must have consequences.  

“It’s not okay to use racial overtones to further spread deceptive narratives that perpetuate the lie that caused last week’s violent events. 

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“Such lawmakers must be held accountable. Their words and actions do matter and their complicity in inciting the vicious attack on our democracy must not go unchecked. I am deeply and personally offended by the outrageous comments and every Alabamian that believes in our democracy should be, too.”

Sewell was forced to shelter inside the Capitol after Trump supporters stormed the building, prompting the evacuation of some and a barricading of others as police tried to get control of an out-of-control siege.

Moore didn’t answer APR‘s questions Sunday about those tweets directly, but his chief of staff sent APR a statement from Moore on Sunday afternoon. 

“Lawlessness is not the answer to our nation’s problems, and every person who acts unlawfully is responsible for their own actions and should be held accountable to the full extent of the law, whether that’s Black Lives Matter, Antifa or Wednesday’s rioters,” Moore said in the statement. 

Brooks was an early supporter of challenging the certification of election results, an action that pleased President Donald Trump and his allies seeking to overturn the election, and spoke to the crowd gathered near the Capitol before the attack. 

“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” Brooks yelled into his microphone. After the riots began, Brooks tweeted an unfounded rumor alleging it was antifa who started the rioting.

The day after the attack, Brooks told an Alabama conservative talk radio host that he had no regrets over his speech prior to the violence, according to The Intercept, telling the host that there was “mounting evidence of fascist antifa’s involvement in all of this.” 

The Federal Bureau of Investigations said on Friday that there was no evidence of antifa aiding pro-Trump supporters in the deadly attack. 

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House

Governor sets special election dates for House District 73 races

Gov. Kay Ivey set the special primary election for March 30 and the general for July 13.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday set special election dates for Alabama House District 73, a seat that was held by Matt Fridy, who was elected to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

Ivey set the special primary election for March 30 and the special primary runoff, if necessary, for April 27. Ivey set the special general election for July 13. 

“The election for House District 73 coincides with the special election for the vacant state senate seat so that we can ensure the people of Shelby County have representation,” Ivey said in a statement. “I encourage everyone in this district to get out and vote. Let’s make sure that you have a strong voice advocating for you in the Alabama Legislature.”

The qualifying deadline for candidates of major parties is Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. The deadline for all independent candidates and/or minor parties is March 30 at 5 p.m.

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House

First Black chief clerk of the Alabama House since Reconstruction appointed

Natalyn Williams is the first Black person since at least Reconstruction to hold the position.

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama Statehouse located Montgomery, Alabama.

The clerk of the Alabama House of Representative, Jeff Woodard, announced Monday that he’s appointed Natalyn Williams as the chamber’s chief clerk.

Williams, who has served more than a decade as an executive assistant in the clerk’s office, will become the first Black person since at least Reconstruction to hold the position, which is responsible for overseeing the entire House staff.

“This is a historic day and on behalf of the entire House of Representatives, I want to offer my congratulations,” said Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia. “Ms. Williams has worked in the clerk’s office for more than 25 years and is well qualified to assume this post. I’m looking forward to working with her in the days to come.”

Williams is a native of Daphne, a graduate of Alabama State University in Montgomery and has worked in the clerk’s office since January 1994.

In addition to her supervisory duties, Williams will be in charge of ensuring House bills are processed and transmitted to the state Senate and the governor’s office in a timely manner.

Gov. Kay Ivey expressed her congratulations to Williams on Twitter.

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