Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gov. Bob Riley mulls special session on ethics reform for new Alabama Legislature

Published: Friday, November 05, 2010, 7:30 AM ??? Updated: Friday, November 05, 2010, 7:57 AM
MONTGOMERY -- With newly minted Republican majorities in the Alabama Legislature, Gov. Bob Riley is considering calling a special session on ethics reform before he leaves office in January, his spokesman said.

? Riley Press Secretary Todd Stacy said the governor has gotten several calls from legislators urging him to call a special session to pass ethics legislation, and he is considering the request.

? "They want to show the people of Alabama they are serious about passing these needed reforms and believe it's best to strike while the iron is hot. The obstacles to reform have been removed from office and now Alabama has its best opportunity ever to pass these reforms," Stacy said.

? Both Riley and Gov.-elect Robert Bentley have talked about a special session on ethics reform. A lame duck governor calling a special session would be unusual, but not unprecedented.

? Passing ethics reform in the final days of the eight-year Riley administration would allow Riley to include the accomplishment as part of his legacy.

? Bentley, who during his campaign said he would call a special session on ethics reform in early 2011, said Thursday he would rather tackle ethics reform after he takes office. But Bentley said he would support Riley if Riley chooses to call his own special session.

? "It is Gov. Riley's prerogative to call it. If he calls it, I will race to the front of the parade to help lead that effort. Ethics reform can't happen fast enough," Bentley said.

? Senate Majority Leader Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, said he has spoken with Riley about the possibility of calling a special session.

? "It is seriously under consideration," Waggoner said.

? Waggoner said he didn't have a preference on when a special session would be called.

? "Whether it's late in the Riley administration or early in the Bentley administration, it will send a strong message that these guys mean business," Waggoner said.

? Sen. Del Marsh, whom Republicans picked Thursday to serve as president pro tempore of the Senate, said he would applaud a quick special session on ethics, "as long as we come in prepared to deal with the issue. ... Bills ready. People understand what we're trying to get accomplished."

? However, Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, said he thought Riley calling a special session on ethics would be a "slap in the face" to the governor-elect.

? "Gov. Bentley campaigned on ethics reform. I fully expect him to push it, and I hope to support him," Bedford said.

? "I think it's an insult to Bentley for Riley to try to do something like that," Bedford said.

Charles J. Dean contributed to this report.

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