MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama Gov. Bob Riley is calling the Legislature into special session Dec. 8 to address ethics and campaign finance legislation.
Riley announced the special session at a news conference Wednesday in Montgomery.
The session will give the outgoing Republican governor a chance to work with the new Republican majority in the Legislature. Riley had to deal with a Democratic majority in the Legislature through most of his eight years as governor. Some of the bills the governor is proposing died in previous sessions due to Democratic opposition.
The special session will begin December 8. Among the package of reforms designed to fight public corruption are bills that will -- for the first time in the history of Alabama -- require:
- full disclosure of spending by lobbyists on all public officials and public employees;
- an end to unlimited gift-giving by lobbyists and others to public officials and public employees;
- a ban on pass-through pork spending;
- subpoena power for the Alabama Ethics Commission;
- the outlawing of all transfers between political action committees;
- the end of "double dipping" by legislators;
- mandatory ethics training for elected officials and public employees at all levels of government; and
- creation of an online, searchable database of lobbyists' disclosure reports so citizens can see who is trying to influence their elected leaders and how.
DEMOCRATS SAY NEW GOVERNOR SHOULD HANDLE SESSION
Alabama Democrats say that it should be Governor-Elect Bentley, not Governor Bob Riley who should address the ethics reform issue. The Democrats believe Governor-Elect Bentley can call a special session within a regular session in early 2011 to address ethics, saving close to $500,000 taxpayer dollars in the process.
Democrats also say that Governor Riley has had 8 years to call a special session on ethics and has not done it.
The Democratic Party said Bentley openly campaigned on ethics reform and will forfeit his salary until Alabama reaches full employment. "Dr. Bentley, not Riley, has earned the right to quarterback ethics reform in the new legislature," the Party said in a statement.
RILEY MOVING AHEAD WITH SESSION AS ADMINISTRATION WINDS DOWN
Last month's election results that gave Republicans their first majority in the Legislature in more than 100 years should have sent a "resounding message" to politicians that citizens are "sick and tired and embarrassed" of "the corrupt political culture that hurts our state," Governor Riley said.
"Thanks to last month's elections, we have an historic opportunity to not only reform this corrupt political culture but end it. The opportunity to enact real reforms has never been better and the need has never been greater," the Governor said.
Governor Riley said he's spoken with many legislators who are eager to pass anti-corruption reforms during a special session and with Governor-elect Robert Bentley, who he said "supports an immediate special session to pass the reforms that will forever change the political culture of our state."
"They have worked very hard to get us to this point today. The leaders have worked with other legislators on crafting these reforms and gaining support for them, and they've requested that I include these reforms in the call for the special session," said Governor Riley.
Governor Riley said the need for a special session is critical because the momentum for tough reforms may not last.
"Delay does nothing but allow the special interests to continue with business as usual. If we wait until the regular session begins in March to even begin discussing these reforms, we would have accomplished nothing but give the special interests a three-month head start on concocting ways to kill reforms -- and, believe me, they've already started. Delay gives them three more months to hide campaign contributions through PAC-to-PAC transfers. It gives them three more months to deploy their armies of lobbyists to try to influence legislators over drinks, dinner and rounds of golf," said Governor Riley.
"We dare not wait any longer. If we do, we'll squander this historic opportunity to finally put an end to a broken and corrupting political system that gives the special interests too much power."
Governor Riley is putting his administration's fact sheets of the reform measures and the actual bills online. That information is available at www.governor.alabama.gov.