AL Ethics Commission talks discusses reform of ethics laws

Committee meets, talks reforming state ethics laws

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Reforming Alabama's Ethics Laws - the topic of a lengthy meeting. The Alabama Ethics Commission is working to pull together suggestions for the legislature to consider in the upcoming session to clarify many gray areas of the law.

Alabama's ethics laws have been problematically vague, and the committee made up of the attorney general, director of the ethics commission, public officials, among others are working to offer clear solutions for the legislature to consider in their upcoming sessions.

Tuesday the committee tackled sticky topics that have plagued officials in the past: including the definition of a "principal."

The definition was an issue in the 2016 ethics trial of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard. Coincidentally the Court of Criminal Appeals issued an order in this case late Monday, instructing the legislature to better define those who are principals, stating there are 34 definitions in current state ethics law.

"The court ultimately concluded that there was sufficient facts that those definitions should be clearly applied and there may be others that have constitutional concerns", stated Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

The committee had a healthy debate over how much principals or lobbyists can spend on meals for public officials. The recommendation would cap any meal at $25 or less per occasion, or $50 or less in a calendar year by a provider.

It's a discussion that matters because it's proposing how to hold public officials accountable and away from undue influence.

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