By MALLORY MOENCH
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama lawmakers pass a proposed ethics law change that would exempt economic development activity from the rules governing lobbyists.
The House of Representatives approved the bill 78-7 after three hours of heated debate.
State Rep. Ken Johnson, a Republican, said companies are getting scared away from Alabama at the prospect of having representatives register as lobbyists, although none have had to register yet. Under his bill they would be certified by the ethics commission as economic developers. Public officials could not get paid as lobbyists or be certified as developers.
Democrat lawmakers criticized the bill as a rollback of current ethics law and a "get out of jail free card" for lawmakers. Former House Speaker Mike Hubbard was convicted of ethics violations including using his public office to promote clients.