Ethics reforms pass despite Democrats' attempts to stall

MONTGOMERY (WSFA) - Senate Democrats filibustered a measure that would bar state employees from contributing part of their salaries directly to political action committees or any organization that is involved with politics.

"They can set it up through their bank if they want to. But politics shouldn't be done on state taxpayer time" said Sen. Brian Taylor, (R - Prattville).

Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh, (R - Anniston) sponsored the measure that brought out more than 150 members of the Alabama Education Association. If Senate Bill 2 becomes law, then members of the AEA and similar organizations like the Alabama State Employees Association can't have their dues for those groups deducted directly to those organizations.

"This has nothing to do with ethics" said Darryl Traylor, an education maintenance worker for more than 12 years. "This has everything to do with Governor Bob Riley wanting to get back at the AEA. . . If I want to contribute part of my paycheck to an organization for dues or anything, I should be able to just like anyone else."

Republicans stood united against the measure. They let Democrats voice their frustration with a filibuster that started around 11:30AM and ended at 2:30PM.

Senators later passed several bills to the House from Governor Riley's initial call for the Special Session on ethics reform.

Those included:

  • Subpoena power for the State Ethics Commission
  • A ban on "Double dipping" - the practice of holding a state job in addition to being an elected official

The Alabama House voted unanimously to pass three bills to the Senate.

Those were a ban on PAC to PAC transfers, mandatory ethics training for all elected officials, and a ban on "Pass-through pork," the practice of hiding pet projects in state agency budgets.

Senators however couldn't agree on a bill involving lobbyist reform and their daily expenditure spending limit.

Governor Bob Riley released a statement saying, "I am deeply disappointed in the Senate for rejecting real lobbyist reform. This is a bill the leaders of the House and Senate asked me to include in the special session."

Lawmakers will take the weekend off and get back to work Monday.