Riley sets special session for Dec. 8
Gov. Bob Riley announced Wednesday that he is calling a special session to tackle ethics reform and it will begin Dec. 8.
Riley wants lawmakers to stop the transfer of money between political action committees, to ban legislators from holding any state job, education or otherwise, and to give subpoena power to the Alabama Ethics Commission. The package also includes bills requiring those who lobby the executive branch to register as lobbyists and severely curtailing what an elected official or public employee can accept from almost anyone.
Riley has had lawmakers introduce similar bills in previous sessions, but blames Democrats for killing those proposals.
Now, after the Nov. 2 election, Republicans have taken the majority in the House and in the Senate, and Riley wants to move quickly to enact these reforms, even before Gov.-elect Robert Bentley takes office next month.
The governor determines which issues are addressed in a special session, keeping other issues from drowning out those he considers more important. Legislators cannot bring up other issues without approval of a supermajority of lawmakers.
And someone who knows a lot about the kinds of reforms that Riley has been pushing for the last eight years, has been tapped by the new Republican legislative leadership to help shepherd the effort.
Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, said if the package of bills that would be up for consideration during the special session is passed, Alabama would once again have the strongest ethics laws in the country.
Taylor served as policy director and legal counsel for Riley before he decided to run for the Alabama Senate, and he had a hand in crafting the legislation that the governor had tried unsuccessfully to get passed.
This time around not only is he helping to craft the bills, he'll be inside the Alabama Legislature working to get his fellow lawmakers to pass them.
Highlights of the legislative package include the proposed ban on transfers between political action committees that Taylor said is stronger than the original bill carried by former state Rep. Jeff McLaughlin, D-Guntersville. Moving money between political action committees helps hides the original source of the contribution.
"It's the kind of rule that someone would think twice about before disobeying it," Taylor said of the provision regarding spending.
-- posted by Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen