Bentley not involved in crafting ethics bills, warns lawmakers about unintended consequences
TUSCALOOSA -- Gov.-elect Robert Bentley said he was not consulted or involved in crafting the legislation that lawmakers began considering Wednesday as part of a special session to overhaul ethics in Alabama
He did warn lawmakers, in his first address to them since being elected Nov. 2, to remember the consequences of the bills they pass.
Gov. Bob Riley, who will be in office until mid-January, decided to call lawmakers into a special session that begins today to address ethics after sweeping Republican wins in November.
Bentley had said he would call a special session to address ethics reform at the beginning of the next regular session and that, if Riley did call a special session, he would not stand on the sidelines. He said he would be leading the fight.
But, on Wednesday, he said "I have decided to let the Legislature do its job."
Bentley, a Republican, said he was briefed by legislative leadership on the proposals. He said he had not studied the bills in depth, but had looked at outlines.
Bentley said he would not be critical of the legislation and would not point to any bills he did or did not want included in the proposals lawmakers are considering. He has previously expressed concerns about legislation that would ban lawmakers from holding another state job.
"We have to be fair. We have to make sure everyone is treated fairly," Bentley said Wednesday. "You can go too far. You always have to be careful about the ramifications."
But, Bentley told lawmakers at their legislative orientation at the University of Alabama school of law, "If you don't clean it up and you don't do it right, we're going to work on it again March 1," which is the beginning of the next regular legislative session.
Bentley said he is a simple man and suggested, when addressing ethics, "simplicity is better."
"The people of Alabama want total transparency. They want to know where the money comes from, where it's going to, who gave it to you," Bentley said to applause from lawmakers. " … You can make things simple or you can make things complicated. I'm leaving that up to y'all. But I have faith you can do things and I have faith you can do things right."
Bentley told lawmakers he hopes they can deal with ethics so that they can move on to other issues and work with him on creating jobs.
"Thank you for getting this out of the way," he said of ethics. "Hopefully, we won't have to talk about it on March 1."
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen