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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Great Stuff from RECKON

BLOGGER COMMENTS:  The folks down at al.com publish a newsletter every Tuesday with updates of the political goings-on in our fair state.  It's a FREE subscription if you are interested.
I've posted a link below:

http://newsletters.al.com/dm?id=3D384B088CF3E99F4BAE0C76AB3935F51A8669F81C0FB086

The highlights or lowlights this week:






State Sen. Greg Albritton, left, sponsored a bill that would gut Alabama’s ethics rules.

Yes, you read that right — the Alabama Legislature is trying to gut its own ethics rules. A new law proposed by 11 senators, including Alabama Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, would make sweeping changes to Alabama’s rules.   Among those changes, according to Reckon’s Kyle Whitmire:
·    Lobbyists and principals (the people or companies who employ lobbyists) can currently not give lawmakers gifts worth more than $25. That cap would be removed.
·    Make theft of government funds or outright bribery under $6,000 a misdemeanor… for public officials and employees. Members of the public would still face felonies.
·    Principals — that is the people who employ lobbyists — won’t do time for giving things of value to public officials.
·    The Alabama Ethics Commission would no longer have authority to field ethics complaints from citizens, investigate potential ethics crimes nor refer complaints for prosecution.
There are other worrying provisions in the law, but that last one is particularly important, as it means enforcement powers would shift to elected district attorneys who often lack the resources or expertise to take complicated and potentially years-long corruption cases to trial.

“If Jefferson County’s district attorney can’t handle a public corruption case, how is a district attorney in Clay County supposed to?” Whitmire writes. “Or Clarke? Or Crenshaw?”

“The lawmakers who drafted this bill know good and well what district attorneys are equipped to handle and what they’re not,” Whitmire writes. “If they don’t know, then they’re willfully ignorant.” According to Whitmire, this bill ensures corruption won’t be prosecuted.

But wait...there's more

What else is happening this week? Reckon’s statehouse reporter Mike Cason writes that these are his expectations:
  • On Tuesday, the House will consider the General Fund budget and a bill to give state employees a two-percent raise.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill by Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, to eliminate the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Allen has proposed that for several years.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will also consider the bill by Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, to prohibit racial profiling and require police to keep records of all traffic stops, including the race of the driver.
  • The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will consider the bill by Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, to eliminate marriage licenses and instead have couples file a marriage document that would be recorded by probate judges.
And this:
The U.S. Department of Justice released a scathing report on conditions in Alabama prisons last week, highlighting problems with overcrowding, understaffing, violence, suicide and mental health.

“The violations are severe, systemic, and exacerbated by serious deficiencies in staffing and supervision; overcrowding; ineffective housing and classification protocols; inadequate incident reporting; inability to control the flow of contraband into and within the prisons, including illegal drugs and weapons; ineffective prison management and training; insufficient maintenance and cleaning of facilities; the use of segregation and solitary confinement to both punish and protect victims of violence and/or sexual abuse; and a high level of violence that is too common, cruel, of an unusual nature, and pervasive,” the report says.

The report, which included shocking details from inside the state’s jails, recommended a sweeping set of immediate changes to Alabama prisons.

Alabama prison commissioner Jefferson Dunn has also come under fire due to concerns his focus on new prison construction causes him to ignore spiraling problems in the state’s prisons. “Part of the problem is that Commissioner Dunn came into his role without any corrections background,” Maria Morris, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC, said of Dunn. “It’s good that he’s thinking outside the box. But he’s also not looking at the things that are in the box.”

Attorney Sarah Geraghty of the Southern Center for Human Rights wrote in an op-ed that the time for an “Alabama solution” to our prisons problem is over.

“The time for negotiation is over,” Geraghty wrote. “The federal government needs to step in, and a federal court order with significant and clearly articulated penalties for noncompliance is the only way forward. How many more people must die before that much is clear?”

And this:
Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville has thrown his hat into the ring for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Doug Jones. Tuberville, a Republican, says he’s running at the urging of his wife, and because he comes from a military family and regretted not serving.

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