New AL law to help economic developers raises ethics questions

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey recently signed HB 317 into the law and has defended it ever since.

"House Bill 317 does not change, shape or minimize the ethics law in any shape, form or fashion," Ivey said. "House Bill 317 simply brings clarity to the existing law."

The bill deals with economic developers and site selectors. Supporters say companies contract with these site selectors to try to find a suitable location and negotiate potential tax breaks behind the scenes. Under the previous law, it was unclear whether or not these site selectors needed to register as lobbyists.

"The uncertainty among site selectors, they were hesitant to play in the arena in Alabama," according to Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh. "We just don't need that. We need certainty so people know where they stand on these ethics issues."

The new law won't require site selectors to register as lobbyists.

Opponents expressed concern this law would create two classifications of lobbyists, those who are registered and have to obey state ethics laws and those who don't.

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