Double-Dipping ban reversed

Written by: Eileen Jones - bio | email
Posted by: John Shryock email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Supreme Court says state legislators who work in the two-year college system cannot take paychecks from both.

The ruling reinforces a policy the state school board put in place to stop so called "double-dipping". The policy had been overturned in a circuit court ruling in November, 2008.

Even though a few of the legislators who worked in the two-year system have retired or quit there are still dozens of legislators who have ties, or relatives with ties, to the education system.

"This once and for all will do one thing," said Governor Riley of the decision. "It will stop, I hope forever, the policy of someone running for office, being elected and immediately getting another job with the community colleges."

It was two years ago that the state board of education voted to ban legislators from working in both the classroom and the statehouse by 2010. Until the 2010 deadline lawmakers were required to take leave or vacation time to serve in the senate or house.

"When you have a principal who is away from his school, serving in the legislature for up to three or four days a week for up to four months, who runs the school?" Governor Riley asked. "You can't have someone serve two masters, and that's what they're trying to do."

Right now, however, the ban doesn't include legislators who work in grades K-thru 12 or those who work in higher education.

The high court sent the order back to the lower court, meaning another lawsuit could be filed in the future.

The Alabama Education Association had no comment on the ruling saying it needs time to study the decision.

As for the governor, he's introduced bills to ban double-dipping across the board from kindergarten through higher education, but those bills never make it out of the legislature. With the Supreme Court's decision in hand, Governor Riley says he will try to get a ban passed once again.