AEA calls bill cutting off their dues "draconian"; promises fight

The electronic board in the Ala. Senate
The electronic board in the Ala. Senate

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP/WSFA) - Hours after the Alabama Legislature passed a bill that would cut off the main source of funds for the Alabama Education Association and other groups representing public employees in the state, there's reaction from the AEA.

AEA said it was clear that the first priority of the special session was not about ending corruption; it was about political payback for the organization's support of Dr. Robert Bentley and the defeat of Bradley Byrne in the gubernatorial primary, whom Governor Riley supported in the primary.

AEA said the bill, SB2, is "draconian", "broad" and "repressive" and promised to take action to resolve the issue related to the bill. Specifics on how the organization would go about resolving the bill were not given.

The House passed the bill from Gov. Bob Riley's ethics package 52-49 early Wednesday morning and the Senate agreed 22-12 at midday.

The bill stops public employees from using payroll deductions to pay dues and give political contributions to lobbying groups for political activity. Opponents said states that have passed similar laws have seen membership rolls drop because fewer people will write checks to the organizations.

Proponents said the state government shouldn't be collecting dues for political groups.

AEA, which is made up of more than 105,000 teachers, support professionals, administrators and education retirees praised the Democrat minority for filibustering the bill for 17 hours, and even though it ultimately failed to kill the bill by just two votes, AEA said it showed that the "Riley faction in the current Legislature can be defeated."

The bill now goes to Governor Riley for his signature.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.