Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R – Auburn) releases a statement after Rep. Daniel Boman of Sulligent announced that he was switching to the Democratic Party.
It was clear early on in the session that Mr. Boman was not aligned ideologically with the reform-minded Republican Majority. Based on his votes on basic issues we campaigned on and promised to enact, I’m sure he will feel much more comfortable wearing the label of Democrat. If anything, Mr. Boman is to be commended for formally affirming what he has likely felt in his heart for some time now.
As I sit down to write today’s recap of the week, the one thing that overshadows everything else that happened in the Statehouse was Wednesday’s storms. Yes, we passed the General Fund budget out of the House, and, yes, we had a pretty good debate on occupational taxes, but all of that pales in the wake of a storm that scattered death and destruction across our State.
For those who haven’t been to Tuscaloosa since the storm, the entire town has been ravaged. Two elementary schools, University Place Elementary School and Alberta Elementary, have been completely destroyed. Neighborhoods have been completely wiped out. The Alberta City area has been destroyed, and the entire Forest Lake community next to the lake on 15th street is gone. The tornado created a path almost a mile wide from interstate 459 to Holt — cutting a long swath of destruction through the heart of Tuscaloosa.
Yesterday, the Speaker brought the House to order, and, after prayer and some necessary business, he adjourned us. He told us that our work in the House, while important, was not anywhere near as important as the work that lay ahead in taking care of friends, family, and neighbors who are suffering in the wake of this tragic storm. I couldn’t agree more. We must join hands now as Alabamians to lend a shoulder to those who have lost a loved one and to lift up those who are homeless, jobless, and hurting. In doing so, God uses our hands as his to share grace and mercy to help those that need it most.
We have a number of important bills on the calendar in the House next week. Some of them are aimed at helping small businesses get back on their feet in a difficult economy (HB 61), some address important issues like immigration (HB 56), and some simply score political points at the expense of everything else. The question that may well be answered next week is whether the House will be a body of rhetoric or a body of results.
If we are truly interested in results, we would focus on bills that create or retain jobs. The Governor has made that his top priority, and the Speaker has even promised to prioritize legislation that creates jobs. As he told the Montgomery Advertiser in a February 27 article, “Any bill that doesn’t create a job takes a step backwards in terms of importance.” If we mean what we say about delivering results, we will take up Rep. April Weaver’s bill to raise the small business deduction on employee health care costs (HB 61).
Unfortunately, HB 61 may get lost in a batch of bills that deliver more on political rhetoric than results. Take HB 19, introduced by Rep. Kerry Rich, for instance. That bill requires the Department of Public Safety to issue a government ID for every
citizen over the age of 18 voter at no cost. How many jobs will that legislation create? If anything, it will cost jobs. HB 19 requires that Public Safety bear the financial burden of this legislation, all while the department’s budget is being cut. Without additional revenue, Public Safety will have to lay off employees to fund this mandate.
And, what do we get in exchange for these jobs? We get the assurance that a voter is who he says he is. Of course, that’s important, but where is the voter fraud that makes this bill necessary? Surely, a US passport or a military identification card would be just as effective in confirming a voter’s identification (yet both were stricken as a valid means of proving identification). And, no one seems to be asking whether the government should be tracking us with government issued identification cards in the first place.
In November, the people of Alabama sent us a message, loud and clear. They want “politics as usual” put on the shelf. I’m not naive enough to think that there would be no politics in the legislative process, but politics should not be our master. We all answer to the people back home in our districts, and they elected us to deliver results.
Yesterday marked a microcosm of how the next four years could be. We took up a very difficult issue on the House floor with the repeal of the DROP program. At the heart of the controversy was the balance between fiscal responsibility and sound legislative policy. While these two principles should not be mutually exclusive, yesterday’s debate showed that they could sometimes be at odds in the legislative process.
DROP was passed in 2002 with bipartisan support as a mechanism to retain our quality, experienced state employees, particularly our educators in the areas of math, science, and technology. As with any program, it became outdated, and it needed to be revamped to carry out its purpose at little to no cost to the State coffers. The advocates for fiscal responsibility called for wholesale repeal of the program. The advocates for responsible policy proposed modifications to the program that would bring DROP back to its intended purpose and make it revenue neutral. My friend Barry Mask, the sponsor of the bill, even agreed that these modifications were good and should be put into the program. But DROP couldn’t be modified until it was killed, they said.
Initially, no amendments were allowed on the bill. In fact, a bi-partisan amendment put on the bill by Republican Representative Harry Shiver was stripped off by the majority’s leadership. After hours of negotiation, however, sound policy prevailed. Representative Mac McCutcheon proposed an amendment to create a bi-partisan study commission on DROP that would take up many of these proposals to modify the program. By the fifth legislative day of the 2012 Session, the Commission would present a report to the Legislature recommending how to reconstitute DROP to carry out its intended purpose in a fiscally responsible way. This amendment passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support. Yes, DROP will be put on the shelf for a year, but I believe that it will come back better than before. The Speaker has given me his commitment to working with the entire body to rebuild DROP so that it can fulfill its intended purpose. And, in its new form, DROP will carry out that purpose in a fiscally responsible way.
If we continue to work together, not as proponents for our parties, but as advocates for the people we represent, fiscal responsibility and sound policy can coexist. My grandfather always said that in every challenge lies an opportunity waiting to be discovered. Working together, we can tackle the challenges that face our State knowing that we will seize the opportunities that lie beneath. That is our charge.
In email to the Parlor, Speaker of the House (and former state GOP Chair) Mike Hubbard wishes to set the record straight about the effort to have Bob Riley establish a political action committee and campaign organization outside the auspices of the Republican Party.
The answer to the question of whether this effort would have been launched if Love had won the GOP race is an emphatic “yes”.
In fact, this has been planned and in the works since last November and has absolutely nothing to do with who the Party Chairman is. The issue is that the ALGOP cannot get involved in Republican Primary races. In order to protect our majority, we must be able to defend against Democrats and special interests running people against incumbent Republicans in our Primary. To NOT have a plan would be a poor political decision.
I have personally pledged to help Bill Armistead raise money for the Party as well.
I know that some Republicans are in complete agreement while others are suspicious that this is part of an ongoing effort to undermine Gov. Bentley, as I hear from both sides.
A Capitol Republican downplays the idea that the potential new campaign organization and PAC is a sign of any schism among Republicans. “This is money raised to protect incumbents from Democrat subterfuge campaigns. The AEA’s of the world will try to run Democrats as Republicans.”
“Campaign 2010 itself was set up as a separate account also, so Hubbard and Marsh have asked Riley to help set this up. They’ve had conversations with Governor Bentley and Armistead about this. This is not a point of contention. It’s an effort to complement the efforts of the Republican Party, not compete with it.”
“This is not one guy, one girl, or even a cabal of people going off and doing their own thing. This is not a big deal.” Here the GOP’er echoes Hubbard’s assessment, “Would the email have gone out if Jay Love had won the chairmanship? The answer is yes. It has been talked about for a long time. This has to happen.”
First, I want to thank Danny for the honor and privilege of posting my thoughts, here. I look forward to working with Senators Keahey and Ward and Representative Merrill to provide readers of the Parlor with timely and insightful feedback on our legislative process.
Week One certainly got off to a fast start in the House. The number of prefiled bills was cut in half (in large part due to Sen. Ward moving up to the 7th floor), but we have some very good legislation working its way through our chamber. The big issues right now are obvious: balancing the budgets and creating jobs. Other important issues are working their way into the mix as well, such as immigration reform and the renewal of Forever Wild, both of which are generating a good bit of buzz amongst the membership.
I want to also take a moment to comment on the political mood in the House right now. Perhaps the happiest surprise for me as a Freshman was to see how ready most of my colleagues are to put partisan election-year politics behind us. Many of us are working together across the aisle to craft timely and necessary legislation. For example, I introduced a campaign finance reform bill in the House yesterday after visiting with Sen. Ward about his efforts on campaign finance reform. Sen. Ward committed to helping me with the bill in the Senate, and he suggested co-sponsors from his own Caucus in the House. In the end, a number of my colleagues across the aisle co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Ward’s support. Sen. Ward also discussed the bill with the Speaker, who commended the legislation, describing it as “much needed” and “a long time coming.”
This is the kind of cooperation the people in my District expect of me, and I dare say the people of Alabama expect no less cooperation of all of us in the Legislature. We would all do well to remember that the pressing challenges of the day are not Democratic or Republican issues; they are people issues. If we continue to work together and put the needs of the people above the politics of the day, I do believe that we will see a new day in Alabama politics.
The day after Jay Love (of the Bob Riley, Mike Hubbard, and Del Marsh branch of the GOP) lost the state chairmanship of the GOP to Bill Armistead, Bob Riley’s daughter Minda circulated email to the Governor’s Circle (the donor network established by Riley, Hubbard, and Marsh) saying that the Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and Senate President pro tem Del Marsh “have asked my father to establish a political action committee and campaign organization, based on the successful framework of Campaign 2010.”
Is this a plan to move money out of the state Republican Party framework to fight liberals in the Republican primary? Or is it a party power play aimed at providing the Riley-Hubbard-Marsh branch of the party with formidable resources that will be outside the grasp of the party apparatus aligning with new Governor Bentley?
Minda says it’s the former:
It is becoming increasingly clear that Democrats cannot win in November. During the next election cycle, we anticipate that there will be candidates to infiltrate our ranks, supported by the liberal special interests, who will run in the Republican primary and even challenge those we recently recruited and elected.
As you know, the Alabama Republican Party has a long standing rule that it cannot get involved in primaries. Problematically, that very well may be where the battle lies. This organization, however, can support the true Republicans and protect those we previously elected, while trying to unseat current Democrats with new conservative talent.
The Democratic Party makes the case for the latter in its release [.doc] that it distributed with the email:
The e-mail details a plan to encourage a group of Riley’s closest allies and supporters, known as “The Governor’s Circle,” to divert all future contributions from the Republican Party to an organization created by Governor Riley and controlled by Riley, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh. The organization would be independent from the Alabama Republican Party but would exist to keep control of the Party in Riley’s hands.
A member of the GOP Executive Committeee tells the Parlor that the email has been a subject of discussion in GOP circles. “If Jay Love had won the chairmanship of the party, would that email have gone out? I don’t think it would have.”
See the email here. The state Democrats’ release is here in a .doc file.
Bill Armistead is elected over Jay Love as the Republicans’ state Chairman, succeeding Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.
This really is a remarkable time in the legislature. Here are some photos from yesterday.
McDowell Lee swears in Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh
Continue reading “Photos from a New Day”
What are you hearing about the future of our state’s party chairs?
Mike Hubbard is on track to be the next Speaker of the House. Who do you imagine might succeed him when the state GOP elects a new Chair in February?
Traveling rumors say that Joe Turnham has already stepped aside in favor of Interim Chair Mark Kennedy, but the state Democratic Party’s Executive Director Jim Spearman assures me this is not true. Last August the state Democrats changed their by-laws to elect their leadership then instead of this coming January as would have happened otherwise. Turnham was re-elected then to a four-year term, but after last Tuesday’s elections, Turnham and/or the state Democrats might be ready soon enough to make way for new leadership. Who might that be?
Are you hearing anything?
Every Republican in the state House of Representatives this week received the email below from U.S. Congressman Spencer Bachus.
There is a follow-up quiz. Does the email represent:
A) A largely unprecedented effort by a U.S. Congressman to insert himself in the organization of one of our state legislative chambers,
B) the gusto with which Mike Hubbard will reach for the brass ring, i.e. the Speaker role,
C) Spencer Bachus’s efforts to become a GOP player and raise his profile in statewide politics,
D) the assumption that opposing Hubbard means opposing the GOP and siding with Democrats, or
E) a large blow to DeMarco’s Speaker hopes coming from DeMarco’s own Congressman?
Dear Representative [Insert Name],
Last night Alabama Republicans achieved a long elusive legislative majority in both the state House and Senate. More than anything, to build on this mandate by the voters of Alabama to address ethics reform, fiscal responsibility, and educational excellence, unity is required.
Not surprisingly, those who have long opposed our efforts of meaningful reform have been mobilizing for months to dilute and restrain the success that our constituents demand. They wish to divide and conquer our ranks. Foremost in their plans is to deny the Speakership to Mike Hubbard. I would caution any Republican not to join their effort or to associate themselves publicly or privately with this blatant effort by those who could not beat us at the ballot box.
The results of the election last night ought to be a clear message to anyone wishing to give lukewarm allegiance to our principles or to support the efforts of the good ole’ boy system in Alabama.
Joining with Democrats to compromise our united effort may advance one’s own immediate political fortunes but I can assure you that, as with those moderate democrats who thought they could partner with the Obama administration, voters will be waiting with a day of reckoning.
Please remember the clear message we received from Alabama’s voters and support Mike Hubbard for Speaker.
Rep. Mike Hubbard is poised to become the next Speaker of the House as the House GOP Caucus today made him its nominee for the role.
The original motion (by Spencer Collier) was that Hubbard would be the Speaker and that Paul DeMarco would be Speaker pro tem. Governor-elect Bentley, among others, had suggested this as an alternative to a prolonged fight between the two for the Speaker role.
That motion was tabled. Mike Hill then nominated Hubbard for Speaker. No other candidates for the role emerged, and Hubbard became the caucus nominee for Speaker of the House. Expect him to be elected the next Speaker in the organizing session next year as Republican legislative candidates signed a pledge to support caucus nominees. (A legislator is expected to vote for GOP caucus nominees or could otherwise be prohibited from running again as a Republican.)
Multiple contacts indicate to the Parlor that Gov. Riley had been working the phones this week on Hubbard’s behalf – especially with newly-elected legislators – hoping to ensure that Hubbard had the votes for the Speaker’s role. One participant told the Parlor that Sen. Scott Beason hoped to pull a Hail Mary today by having Gov-elect Bentley come in and ask both caucuses (House and Senate) to wait on choosing their nominees. This would allow Beason on the Senate side and DeMarco on the House side time to work some votes for the top spot in each chamber. Word got to Bentley that neither side would go for that, and Bentley did not ask.
Does DeMarco want to be Speaker pro tem? One long time legislator explains that the role can be very important or it can be nothing. “The real power of the Speaker pro tem role comes from the relationship that the person has or doesn’t have with the Speaker of the House.”
The legislator explained that previous Speaker Seth Hammett made sure that Demetrius Newton had some responsibility in the Speaker pro tem role, at least partly because he wished to maintain good relations with the Black Caucus, but before that, House Speaker Jimmy Clark gave Speaker pro tem Jim Campbell little power in the role.
For these reasons, DeMarco might choose to pass on the title especially if he feels Hubbard is unlikely to give real responsibility to his one-time challenger for the Speaker role.
The GOP caucuses for the Senate and the House are meeting today. The Senate caucus has already chosen Del Marsh (of Anniston) as its nominee for the top spot, Senate President pro tempore. Scott Beason (of Gardendale) has been tapped to be the caucus nominee for Chair of the powerful Rule Committee.
Marsh was a major player in the party’s fundraising for Campaign 2010. Beason’s support in the party has been noted in a previous post.
In the other chamber, al.com is reporting that Governor-elect Bentley is trying to work out a compromise between Mike Hubbard (Auburn) and Paul DeMarco (Homewood) for the role of House Speaker.
Some Republican legislators did not foresee that the leadership would be decided today. One House member told the Parlor this week that while the issue of who would be Speaker “will be the centerpiece of our discussion” today, “there is no indication that we are going to elect the caucus nominee” based on the info in the announcement about the meeting. The legislator added, “I hope we discuss strategy and meet our 10 to 15 new House members. I’m not convinced that it’s imperative that we have a vote on Thursday. If that’s a potential order of business, many of us will be surprised.”
Apparently then, many are surprised.
State Democratic Party Chair Joe Turnham has circulated a letter to those attending the State Democratic Executive Committee meeting this weekend that indicates his willingness to serve through 2010. Normally, the state Democrats would elect their state Chair to a four year term in January 2011, but there is a proposed change in the by-laws that would have the state Chair elected this August, not in January. The change will be voted on this weekend and if it passes, the Democrats will elect a state Chair this weekend also. I hear that the change in by-laws is expected to pass.
The letter from Turnham indicates that if the by-laws are changed so that the election is this month, he will stand for re-election to offer continuity of leadership through the November elections into 2011. Left unstated is whether or not he would serve a full four year term if re-elected this weekend, or if he would even run again if the election were held in January. Some who have read the letter believes it indicates that Turnham would step down at the end of 2010, others are not so sure.
Across the aisle, Rep. Mike Hubbard is “most likely” not going to run again for another two-year term as state GOP Chair. I have long heard talk that this would be the case, and state GOP Communications Director Philip Bryan tells the Parlor, “It’s been a long known fact that Mike’s goal was to serve as Party Chairman through the 2010 cycle, flip the Legislature and then turn it over to someone else. We all came on board with that goal.” The GOP will elect its state party Chair in February.
Care to speculate about who else might inhabit these roles?
We took a good look last week at who might be Speaker of the House next quadrennium. On the Senate side there is not as much chatter about who would be Senate President pro tempore.
If the GOP takes over the state Senate, the two leading candidates to be Senate President pro tem look to be Scott Beason of Gardendale and Del Marsh of Anniston.
Del Marsh would be the establishment candidate, having worked closely with state GOP Chairman Rep. Mike Hubbard as the party’s Finance Chairman and with the Campaign 2010 fundraising effort. Beason is said to be the choice of Robert Bentley, the party’s gubernatorial nominee, though many observers have noted to the Parlor that business interests would be unhappy with Beason as pro tem and would much prefer Marsh.
Beason did arrange for the House and Senate GOP Caucuses to meet with Robert Bentley at the BCA Conference last weekend, just days after Bentley nabbed the nomination. One attendee told the Parlor that it went well, adding that Bentley told those present that he wanted to break the stranglehold that lobbyists have over the legislative process, even those lobbyists who were pro-business. This of course was said at a conference hosted by business lobbyists and so created quite a buzz.
Not hearing names so much on the Democratic side… The Dems re-organized the structure a bit in 2007, and if they organize in similar fashion in 2011 then the power is not as concentrated in the pro tem position, but is spread out a bit among the pro tem, Senate Majority leader, and committee chairs. As such, I hear that the Dems are willing to wait to see what negotiations might be involved in securing an organizing majority given that there have been some Senate Democrats who have shown reluctance to commit to organizing with the Democrats. By way of example, last quadrennium the Democrats took the unusual step of committing from the outset to have Hinton Mitchem of Union Grove serve two years as pro tem and Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham serve two years in the role.