Legislature passes bill that could hurt AEA, ASEA
The bill, which would stop the state from taking dues out of checks for organizations like the Alabama Education Association and the Alabama State Employees Association, now goes to Gov. Bob Riley for his signature.
Senate Republicans quickly shut down debate, taking a vote 45 minutes after convening. The House spent 15 hours debating the bill on Tuesday and early Wednesday.
The Alabama House of Representatives passed the bill 52-49 at about 3 a.m. Wednesday.
The bill would stop the state from deducting dues or funds for political action committees from state pay checks for organizations that are politically active including the AEA and the ASEA.
Republicans have said that state resources should not be used to collect dues for organizations that are politically active.
Democrats believe the bill is politically motivated and aimed to hurt the AEA, which typically supports Democratic candidates. The association is a force in state politics and the bill could hurt its financial resources.
Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, said the bill is targeted at the AEA because that organization supported Robert Bentley in the Republican primary instead of Riley's candidate of choice, Bradley Byrne. He said it is one of the most political bills he has seen since he was first elected to the Legislature in 1982.
Paul Hubbert, head of the AEA, agrees with Bedford and believes the bill is retaliation. The AEA traditionally supports Democratic candidates for the Legislature and other state offices including governor.
Hubbert and legislative Democrats are concerned that, if these organizations are not able to automatically withdraw dues from state checks, that it could cut the number of employees who are members and hurt the representation those groups have at the State House. They have said some members of these groups, such as custodians and bus drivers, might not have checking accounts and be able to send in their dues.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen