Teacher liability insurance bill moves forward

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama teacher's union has lost another skirmish with the new Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature.

The House Ways and Means-Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill for the state to provide liability insurance for school workers. The insurance is provided by the Alabama Education Association and gives an incentive for education workers to join the AEA.

"No teacher should be forced to join an organization and pay dues out of fear of being financially ruined by a lawsuit," bill sponsor Rep. Jay Love (R-Montgomery) said. "This is a basic service of state government, and it's something our teachers absolutely deserve."

AEA executive secretary Paul Hubbert said providing the insurance would be an unnecessary cost at a time when money is tight.  Love said the AEA insurance is not available to employees who don't belong to AEA.

Love estimated it would cost less than $2 million a year for the state to offer the insurance. But deputy state finance director Bill Newton said startup costs might be as much as $10 million.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)