It seems that it would not be a normal legislative session without at least one bill that is considered “very contentious.” Most observers are bestowing this title to HB317 for the session that ended this week.
As I understand it (and I make no promises that I do) this bill calls into question whether folks called “economic developers” have to sign up with the Ethics Commission as lobbyists and live by the same rules that apply to other folks who lobby.
On the one hand there were legislators saying that this was important to make sure Alabama economic developers were not put at a disadvantage to their counterparts in other states. Those opposing the bill claimed it was actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing and would allow some people to thumb their nose at the Ethics Commission.
For the record: Former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard had a contract for $12,000 a month with the Southeast Alabama Gas District to assist them in “economic development.”
The Alabama Political Reporter has a good summary of the give and take. Go here to see it.
As I read this account, here is the passage that jumped off the page at me.
“Do we sometimes have to come back and fix bills?” said Rep. Paul Beckman, R-Prattville. “Sure, because we’re part-time legislators, serve for 30 days and don’t know what the far-reaching effects of a law will be.”
Beckman is not running for re-election. He is running for Autauga County Probate Judge instead. So he won’t be around to “fix” this bill. He was part of the crowd elected in 2010. This is significant because Beckman voted for the A-F school report cards that have been denounced by educators from one end of Alabama to the other and he also voted for the Alabama Accountability Act that has now diverted $116 million from the Education Trust Fund to give scholarships to private schools.
And if there have ever been bills that need “fixing,” I can’t think of two better candidates. But strangely enough, neither Rep. Beckman, nor any of his colleagues, have ever said a word about repealing these bills that I am aware of.
But then, I guess there is a lot of difference in how some folks at the statehouse view lobbyists as compared to students in school.